The Knitting Room

31 Aug 2010


"This same Miss McAloon it was...who commenced her great work, dedicating her life to a vision,...who divested herself of all impediments to her vocation ( husband, son, household duties) and began the real work of knitting; knitting partitions for the barn, rooms of wool;she created knitted ceilings, coffered, domed and pitched ceilings to suspend from the rafters, whole walls she knitted, with ribbing round the doorways and windows. She breathed the air of wool...She repaired and embellished the rooms, even knitting pictures of the outside world to sew on here and there as reminders, a window, with the exact scene outside rendered in four ply and glorious full colour, and because of her loneliness in the service of this talent she knitted life size bodies of people and sat them on the chairs so that she always had company and somebody could watch her in progress while space in the building gradually dwindled to cubbyholes in the musty cells of plain and purl.  The wool wound once round the little finger of her right hand, her needles flicking and clittering..."

                                                        Just Relations by Rodney Hall 1982.


Almost thirty years ago I read these words and they fired my imagination.
The thought of knitting not only things to go in a room but coverings for the walls and floors, a completely knitted environment was something I always wanted to see.
 They have never left me.
I remember little else from this book but this lonely woman knitting her world is forever with me.

pictures from here

Today when I looked at the Knitting Room I couldn't help but think of  Miss McAloon. 
Not that the Knitting room was created by one woman and  it certainly wasn't musty but it surely was her vision in all it's beautiful woolly colour.

Such a wonderful undertaking, such a treasure.
Truly a celebration of colour and  the wonderful domestic creativity of women.


I must say though, the Blue Room which highlighted the prevalence of depression 
among the older generation coupled 
with my underlying channeling of Miss McAloon 
made a huge impression on me
and left me
a little sad.

Having worked in geriatric medicine for some years I know  that this problem of depression is a sad fact  for many and often not acknowledged or treated. 
So if you can, spend some time with the older people in your life, 
treat them with respect, 
listen to their stories, value the life they have lived and the life they are living.
Old  age is a time of loss for everyone, 
loss of independence, 
loss of loved ones,
loss of physical strength
and some can cope with it better then others but everyone can cope better if they know that the people they love really do care.

There was a rule of No Photos in the Knitting Room but the Town Hall was decked out in all her woolly finery .


7 Responses to “The Knitting Room”

  1. Jenny how long will the knitting room be in your town? Do you know if it is coming down the NW coast at all?

    Thanks Kate

  2. Kate, they are packing it up tomorrow at 1pm and then I presume it goes back to Hobart.

  3. What a great idea! I wish more residential care homes would have projects like this. For residents to produce knitted items representing the 1950s must have stirred many memories. Lovely story.

  4. oh well maybe some other time then.

    cheers Kate

  5. I couldn't agree more about caring for our old people, Jenny.
    My youngest daughter does voluntary work on a Saturday afternoon at a local home for the elderly.
    I am so proud of her and she has learnt a lot from the experience.
    Today, she and her older sister are taking their grandad to town for lunch and I know how much he enjoys the day,
    Susan x

  6. Hi Jenny,

    Completely amazing! It was wonderful to see. Thank you for sharing.


  7. Jenny, I absolutely love the first photo of the old post office clock (and the knitting of course.) Childhood memories, I can hear it chiming now.



Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.