Knitters wanted as War Memorial plans to unveil handmade poppies display

Knitters wanted as War Memorial plans to unveil handmade poppies display

Knitters wanted as War Memorial plans to unveil handmade poppies display

Updated 20 August 2017, 23:45 AEST

The call is out to knitters from around Australia to help create 60,000 poppies to mark the centenary of the end of World War I in November 2018.

The call has gone out to knitters from around Australia to help create 60,000 poppies to mark the centenary of the end of World War I in November 2018.

It is hoped the poppies will carpet part of the grounds at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in time for commemorations.

Each poppy knitted will represent an Australian life lost in World War I, with the Great War remaining the costliest conflict to Australia in terms of deaths.

Out of the 416,809 men who enlisted, 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.

To help the poppy project, a growing group of Canberrans with a flair for fabric regularly meet to add to the growing haul of poppies by knitting, crocheting and felting more creations.

School teacher Kelly Turner is learning to knit so that she can teach her students in time to involve them in the project.

"I'm super passionate about educating kids about the Anzac legend in particular, and why it's still relevant today," Mrs Turner said.

"They would say it's old-school or it's pretty vintage, but anything they can do to contribute positively to our community sets them up to be really positive citizens in the future."

Keen knitter Kerry Apted is helping to organise the project and said she marvels at how enthusiastic people are about the idea.

"People from all over Australia knit these poppies and post them in," she said.

"It's about being of service but it's also about remembrance.

"If these people hadn't gone to war, lost their lives and served, then we wouldn't be sitting here."

Knitters meet at Poppy's cafe

Fittingly, the knitters meet at the War Memorial's cafe, which is named Poppy's not after the flower, but in memory of Trooper David 'Poppy' Pearce, an Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan.

"We're sitting in a building that is named after somebody to commemorate him giving his life and his service," Ms Apted said.

And the handmade project is a family affair for Meredith Atilemile, who crochets while her mother, Kath Schroder, knits.

Ms Atilemile's grandfather was an original Anzac and her brother is currently serving in the Defence Force.

"Just about everybody who got involved at the beginning had someone who they wanted to remember," she said.

"It might have been an individual in their family or it might have been the names on their local community's war memorial."

She said people often mailed in poppies with dedications attached.

"People wrote the story of Great Uncle Fred or someone who might have come home but not been the same," she said.

"People also wrote dedications for their son who was currently serving."

The knitters meet fortnightly on Sundays and Thursdays in Canberra, and there is also a group in Melbourne, as well as people around the country who post in their creations to the 5000 Poppies Facebook group coordinating the project.

The group also makes sure the many patterns for the various poppies are available online.