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Knitting brings comfort - Ruth Potter is a lady on a mission, armed with a knitting basket and a whole lot of love



By Victoria McGuin


A crisp, sunny day found me at a hinterland café recently, where I met with Ruth Potter, who is gently determined to create a knitting revolution, all for those in need.


Ruth Potter moved to Flaxton with her late husband Ron 25 years ago, after years of travelling due to his work as a Uniting Church Minister.


“We’ve been all over, from Caboolture and Townsville, to Canberra and the Pacific Islands,” shared Ruth. “We enjoyed living that way, and our three girls were educated through Queensland Correspondence, along with the education travel brings. The ship would come by every six weeks with their lessons and results.”


Ruth and Ron’s daughters settle on the coast, and the couple soon followed. “We love the area, the quiet of the hills, the greenery, so we bought a block of land. It’s a special place with a real community in the street and everyone supporting each other.”


So, how did Ruth come to be sitting in local cafés, with her baskets of wool, tempting visitors to knit (with permission from the café owners)?


“My daughter was in Bli Bli and she saw people knitting in a café there, with a sign saying anyone could join in. The purpose was to knit squares to help create blankets for those in our community without homes,” Ruth explained.


“She said, ‘Mum, it’s just your kind of thing!’ as I’ve always volunteered, but I’m not keen on having specific days each week - I like being adaptable.


“So, I’m at Priscilla’s in Montville regularly with a couple of friends, Virginia and Lauri, and we knit. I leave a couple of baskets and instructions on how to knit your own ‘granny square’.


“Knitters cast on 45 stitches and work to 45 rows cast off, roughly a square of about 20cm x 20cm. People can make as many as they like!”


Ruth started in April 2023 and now she aims to spread the word so more and more blankets can be made.


“I collect squares every second Thursday and when I have enough I sew them all into a blanket. Last year I took them to The Shack in Nambour, and this year I’m giving them to the Suncoast Christian Care shop in Howard Street, Nambour.


“I like to give them to those organisations who don’t receive any government aid, they are doing the work out of love and they need our help. Love is the main ingredient in this.


“It’s such a simple thing, people can sit and do a few rows, and they don’t even need to finish a square as someone else will. It’s relaxing and social.


“I know a lady out in Ningi near Bribie who lost her husband and she came here with her sister, and now she fills her spare time making me beautiful blankets.”


Montville Market has come on board with the initiative and, on my last visit there, I saw various people casually knitting while enjoying a pot of tea and a chat. The Homegrown café in Palmwoods is also welcoming the baskets, so it appears the idea is taking off.


“We even had a 15-year-old boy knitting at the Montville Market,” smiled Ruth. “A lady came over and showed him how to knit and he sat and knitted a square.”


I asked Ruth, how long does it take to knit a square?


“It all depends on how creative people are,” she replied. “Some make simple squares, others knit different patterns, which is lovely as it brightens the blankets up, so anything from 20 – 45 minutes.”


Ruth is keen for cafes in every town to have these knitting baskets, as the need for blankets is sadly growing.

On ABS Census night (2021), over 122,000 people were estimated to be experiencing homelessness in Australia. The number of people accessing homelessness services in Queensland has risen by 22 percent in just four years. This is the fastest rate nationally and the second highest increase after Western Australia. In regional Queensland,

homelessness is up 29 percent.


Vulnerable women over 55 are one of the fastest-growing groups experiencing homelessness due to financial and housing insecurity. The death or serious illness of a spouse, or divorce, or escaping abuse, can push a woman into homelessness.


We discussed the Maroochydore Sleepbus® as Ruth sat knitting. “It’s a wonderful initiative,” Ruth said. “The bus has up to 20 secure sleep pods each with a lockable door and toilet. There is overnight security and storage for the person’s belongings.”


There is currently one Sleepbus® on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, and a second ‘pink bus’ for women and their children, is coming soon. (For details of more Sleepbus® projects and how to donate, please visit sleepbus.org)


“The more our community knows about the problem, the more we can help,” added Ruth. “And yes, many of us are struggling financially, and can’t do big things to help other people, but the little things we can do have a ripple effect.”

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Garold Rafa
Garold Rafa
12 Ιουλ

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