Needles clack in Maleny

A typical Thursday meeting of Busy Needles

A typical Thursday meeting of Busy Needles

by Dale Jacobsen

Writer Dale Jacobsen recently went along to a Busy Needles morning to find 25 women gathered around tables chatting about this and that, all the while their needles clacking as if on automatic. No need to watch in case they dropped a stitch. Dale realised she could certainly learn a thing or two.

Sixteen years ago, Dorothea Ekert was part of the CCC (Cuppa, Craft and Chat) group at the Baptist Church as a means of bringing together the women for a convivial morning tea.

“When it folded, the Maleny Senior Citizens offered us the use of the Senior’s Verandah Room,” said Dorothea. “We’ve been meeting there once a fortnight ever since. We are now an independent arm of the Senior Citizens.”

Along the side of the room, a table loaded with rugs, beanies, scarves, socks and hug-me-tights (capes with gloves incorporated) awaited distribution to those in need, such as Blackall Range Care, Salvation Army, Erowal Aged Care Facility, Maleny Hospital.

“And Prince Charles Hospital,” laughed Dorothea, “because that’s where a lot of us will end up”. They also provide beanies to a Cancer Clinic in Maroochydore.

On another table at the back of the room Ronne Wildman and Bev Smith were sorting through bins of wool stock selecting yarn for their next project. “

We either purchase the wool from our fundraising or it is donated by people clearing out their cupboards,” explained Florence Woods, who featured in the July edition of Hinterland Times.

Florence has been a member of the group since it began. “After the Yarn Bombing Festival is over, a lot of the pieces find their way to us to be reused.”

They provide all the yarn, needles and patterns needed. People supply their busy hands. There are also “phantom knitters” who take the wool away and return with finished articles.

Always keen to encourage craftwork in others, Busy Needles Maleny sponsors two categories at the Maleny Show: Hand Knitting and entries for 70 Years and Over. Their work is on display, and for sale, at a stall at the Show.

Surprisingly, Busy Needles raise a considerable amount of money from their fortnightly sessions where they hold a raffle and each person makes a donation to cover morning tea.

This year, they donated $2,500 to Careflight – Australia’s most trusted rapid response critical care service.

One special need is for premi babies. “We knit some very tiny baby clothes to support the parents of premi babies. Once a year, in April, Eileen Cooke comes up to Maleny to receive the goods on behalf of PIPA (Preterm Infants’ Parents’ Association).

They support families of infants in Intensive Care Units and Special Care Nurseries, both emotionally and practically. Last year, Eileen brought a photo album with her showing some of the premis now grown up to young adults. It was so rewarding to see this. Each one tells its own story.”

In 2014 Dorothea’s husband, Ross, passed away, and for health reasons she had to leave her home at Witta. “I was married for sixty-two-and-a-half years to Ross who came from a dairy farming family.”

She proudly announced that she has six great-grandkids. Dorothea now lives in Brisbane with her daughter, Lorraine Van den Brink, who was born and bred and went to school in Maleny.

Lorraine has become part of Busy Needles and mother and daughter drive up to the meetings every fortnight. Lorraine has assembled three albums of all the articles and events of the group. A valuable social historical resource.

I asked Dorothea if she considered herself the leader of the group, to which she replied, “Sort of, but we are really a co-operative”, which seems appropriate for Maleny.

In 2009, her work, “helping the needy across Queensland”, was recognised with a Fisher Community Australia Day Award.

Busy Needles meet every second Thursday at Verandah Room, Senior Citizens Rooms, Maleny Community Centre.

Contact: Florence on 54 942115 or Dorothea on 33 498969.