Here’s a lovely convergence of events. I’d been meaning to cover Little Sprouts for Do Good Thursday for a while, and then the whole idea of New Zealanders knitting for charity kind of became international news:
I was introduced to Little Sprouts a while ago by my grandmother, who can whip up a gorgeous cabled cardigan-and-booties matched set over the course of an ODI innings. In addition to goods like nappies, eating utensils, breast pumps and strollers, Little Sprouts baby boxes contain clothing and blankets often handmade and donated by a massive network of crafters. They work with groups like Barnados, Women’s Refuge and the Neonatal Trust to provide for:
- Families with premature or unwell babies,
- Women escaping from domestic violence,
- Refugees starting a new life in New Zealand,
- Young parents without support networks,
- Families where one parent is terminally ill or struggling with other illness,
- Families where the key earner has been made redundant,
- Families with multiples (twins or triplets),
- Single parents (mums, dads, grandparents and other caregivers) who are struggling,
- Mums battling post-natal depression,
- Families living in an ongoing cycle of poverty,
It’s amazing work, and one of many fantastic organisations who could use our help. I have a bag of goodies to send them myself – though I don’t think I can really use #knitforJacinda as they were done before the news broke!
I don’t normally make a lot of additional comment on DGT posts, but this one warrants it. There has been some unfortunate sneering, by men, at the notion of people wanting to knit for Jacinda Ardern’s baby, and knitting in general.
“Let’s not pretend those booties are anything more than a diversion to [sic] far bigger issues,” opined a certain leftwing man whose blog is entirely built on the unpaid labour of superior women writers.
But here’s the thing about the ~diversion~ that is knitting items for charity: it can literally save babies’ lives. The Neonatal Trust explains:
100% wool is a beautiful natural fibre that importantly is breathable – unlike synthetics and acrylics which can cause a baby to sweat and overheat. Babies born early cannot regulate their own body heat and the use of wool is key to ensuring their body can focus on growing and developing.
Now, we can keep premature or sick babies in hospital in an incubator. Or, with some booties and merino singlets, they can go home with their families that much sooner.
If that’s not enough for you – because you’re a Very Serious Person who wants to focus on Real Issues – consider how legendarily cold and unhealthy New Zealand housing stock is, especially for families on our equally-legendary low wages. Think what a difference it makes to those families being able to keep their babies and children wrapped up and warm when it’s simply too expensive to turn on the heater (or too pointless, because your windows don’t close properly.)
And we cannot underestimate the value of knitting or other crafts for the people doing them. The Neonatal Trust, again, points out:
• It can help with managing stress, anxiety, and depression
• It keeps your brain healthy
• It can help your motor skills
• It is a meditative act
• It instils pride upon completion
Knitting requires patience, dexterity, creativity, dedication and a whole lot of aroha. Making a few pairs of booties may not bring on The Revolution, but it’s doing concrete good in a world which feels out of control and terrifying right now.
If the Prime Minister’s pregnancy means more people get involved in a community effort to provide for those in greatest need, it’s socialist enough for me, comrades.