A stitch in time. Crochet, knitting and the Sydney Royal Easter Show
Posted on : 24 October 2016
WORDS: Jennie Smiedt
Crochet and knitting have long been exhibited at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The first explicit mention is in the 1870 Show Catalogue. The competition section for 'Furniture and Other Objects for the Use of Dwellings', mentions a Miss A Campbell of Gladesville as has having submitted 'a set of crochet antimacassars (a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs to prevent soiling the permanent fabric) and a Spanish point lace crochet collar'. Unfortunately we don't know if she won a prize, but you have to admire a gal who can not only dress herself, but her furniture as well.
From those early days, knitting has grown into an immensely popular category attracting hundreds of entries every year across hand knitting, machine knitting, crochet, and felting as well as spinning and weaving.
While the competition has expanded and introduced new technology, according to Mary Hollingworth, Sydney Royal Arts & Crafts Show Steward, the driving force behind those wielding a needle has essentially remained the same.
"The recurring theme from competitors regarding entering the knitting and crochet sections of the Sydney Royal is a reminder to them of the importance of family, home and community," she said.
Familial love may be a motivation, however winning a Sydney Royal ribbon is what all workers of wool aspire to after putting hours, if not weeks and months, into creating something incredibly special with their hands.
"I have spoken to many competitors after the Show and there's no mistaking the sheer joy and delight at being recognised at this level of competition," Mary said.
"One competitor told me that when she saw her Sydney Royal ribbon placed on a shawl patiently created over 12 months tears of joy flowed. Another competitor asked me to photograph her in front of her ribbon-winning matinee jacket, saying it was the proudest moment of her life."
The grandchild intended for that jacket apparently had to make do with another one as the jacket and ribbon went straight to the framers and sealed under glass.
See demonstrations from The Knitters Guild NSW and the Machine Knitters Association in the Arts and Crafts Pavilion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Information sheets and membership forms are available for those interested in picking up their needles and hooks again, or learning the craft for the first time.