Spinning a yarn for the Duke of Cambridge

On April 22, Tura Beach spinner and knitter Jenny Manley watched the telecast of the royal visit to the National Indigenous Training Academy based at Ayres Rock Resort with keen interest. 

An official gift to the Duke of Cambridge of a camel hair beanie was her own creation. 

The specially crafted beanie was presented to Prince William by Sherelle Young, a trainee at the academy. She is from the remote APY lands community of Amata in northern South Australia. Sherelle explained to the prince that the beanie was knitted from camel hair and that it would keep him very warm in the cold weather.

Jenny spent many hours preparing the camel hair fibres and then sat in her garden spinning and getting ready to knit. A small sample of camel hair was dyed to a charcoal grey as a contrast colour for kangaroos to be knitted in fair isle pattern around the beanie.

The soft handcrafted beanie was then sent to Marea Moulton, formerly of Merimbula, and now the general manager of the academy, ready for the presentation to the duke. 

In 1936 Jenny Manley’s great grandmother Emma Manley knitted a blanket for the coronation of King George in 1937. The Manley family received a letter from the royal family and Government House acknowledging the blanket had been received at Buckingham Palace.

Emma knitted to two small kangaroos on the blanket for the king so Jenny recreated this design on Prince William’s beanie, giving it a special intergenerational link.

Emma Manley was a prolific knitter and there are many samples of her work still in the Manley family; knitted rugs, scarves, socks, cushions covers, potholders, jumpers and even a hot water bottle cover. 

She incorporated patterns of fair isle animals, letters, and messages into her knitting. The rugs and blankets were knitted in small sections and then sewn together. 

Emma knitted with a fine 3 ply wool and used bicycle spokes for her needles. The bicycle spokes were sharpened at one end so that she could knit with them.

A copy of the beanie will be on show at this year’s Merimbula Breakfast at Tiffany’s fashion parade that will feature original Indigenous design fabric and other textiles.

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