Knitters all over the world have knitted 63,000 woolly jumpers for Australia’s lambs weakened or orphaned by drought.
The colourful, miniature jumpers are an incredible, global display of love and compassion* for Australian farmers and their sheep battling through drought.
NSW farmer Marie Knight posted a request on social media platform Facebook last year for donations of little jumpers to keep lambs warm.
When a mother sheep is sick or dies she can’t care for her lamb or lambs. Farmers adopt the lambs and bottle feed them and keep them warm until they’re big and strong enough to eat grass like adult sheep do. In the first two or three days of a lamb’s life, it is very hard for them to keep warm without their mother’s care.
When there is only one or two little lambs to look after, old baby cardigans and jumpers work well as a lamb jumper.
“I even use my husband’s old work socks,” Mrs Knight said.
But in drought, there are far more weak and orphaned lambs to care for than there are old baby cardigans or old socks.
Mrs Knight’s request attracted an incredible response.
“I had no concept* of what would happen,” she said. “It just went wild.”
Jumpers started piling in from all over Australia and from around the world.
A group of New Zealand shedhands — who work with sheep and wool in shearing sheds — sent her 200 jumpers. A grandmother taught her seven-year-old granddaughter to knit and they began sending them to Mrs Knight. A 103-year-old lady named Violet from NSW sent beautifully knitted jumpers. There were even jumpers arriving in the mail from the US and from Belgium, 15,000km away.
Since that first call out, Mrs Knight and helpers in the CWA*, Rotary Club and other community groups have posted out 57,000 jumpers in total to anyone who has asked for them.
Now, across every state and territory of Australia — apart from the Northern Territory, where there aren’t sheep — there are little lambs running about rugged up in mulitcoloured jumpers.
Mrs Knight said that although the jumpers are very useful, the most important part of the whole project is the thoughtfulness and good wishes behind the effort to knit and post every jumper.
“One woman said her husband came in with a big a smile on his face and said, ‘Have you seen the colour in the paddock?’”
When Kids News spoke to Mrs Knight she had just come in from feeding sheep, a time-consuming daily job during drought, when there is not enough grass growing in the paddocks for the sheep to eat.
Her farm, just south of Coonabarabran in east-central NSW, is going into its fourth winter in drought.
Mrs Knight still has 6000 jumpers available to anyone who needs them and believes that will be enough to meet future requests, as jumpers can be reused after a few days when the lamb gains strength.
She asked anyone who would like to help to consider knitting beanies instead and send them to a local CWA or Rotary Club branch to distribute or to choose another drought charity and find out how best to contribute.
“And if you know a farmer, give them a call. It breaks their monotony*.”
- compassion: sympathy and concern for the suffering of others
- concept: idea
- CWA: Country Women’s Association, a non-profit organisation that helps rural communities
- monotony: lack of variety, same boring thing over and over again
- Where have the jumpers gone to? Why not the NT?
- How many jumpers have been posted out already?
- Who is Violet?
- How many jumpers does Marie Knight have left?
- Do farmers need everyone to keep knitting lamb jumpers? What could we do instead?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. A new nursery rhyme
Choose a nursery rhyme you know well. Rewrite the words of the nursery rhyme to make it about the woolly-jumper-wearing lambs. Practice your new nursery rhyme and perform it for a friend or your class.
(to the tune of Frere Jacques)
Li-ttle la-amb, Li-ttle la-amb,
Are you cold? Are you cold?
Here’s a woolly jumper, in lots of rainbow colours,
Now you’re warm, now you’re warm.
Here are some nursery rhyme suggestions you could base your new rhyme on: I’m a Little Teapot; Mary Had a Little Lamb; Incy Wincy Spider; Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill; Baa Baa Black Sheep; Old McDonald Had a Farm; etc
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Music
Create a woolly-jumper-wearing lamb cartoon character. Draw and name them. Choose colours and a design for their jumper. Write a list of personality traits for them.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Art
The acts of kindness and compassion demonstrated in this article are heartwarming. In most cases an act of kindness can also be free: a smile, a hug, a helping hand, etc.
Can you come up with 3 acts of kindness you or your community could do to help the farmers or the animals in their time of need?
HAVE YOUR SAY: Can you or any of your friends knit or crochet? Would you like to learn? What else could you do to help farmers?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.