Famous Knits: Julia Gillard

Written by Sarah on July 9th, 2013 Posted in famous knits, knits, life

Remember how Kate Middleton was looking for knitting tips when she picked up her new hobby? Perhaps she can look down under for some advice! Australia’s MP Julia Gillard is an avid knitter who is reportedly making a little stuffed kangaroo for the royal baby that’s due any day now!

Gillard, the first female Prime Minister, was photographed for The Australian Women’s Weekly with needles in her hands, surrounded by yarn! She says that she likes to knit for babies since she doesn’t have much time to complete big projects. It’s hard enough for me to squeeze in a few hours of stitching after work, I can’t imagine doing the same while running a country!

julia gillard


I’ve read some criticism of the spread, some speculate that the photographs were meant to draw in female voters while others go so far as to blame them for the results of last month’s election. There seems to be a lot of opinions on this and it makes me sad that there is controversy here. I won’t pretend that I’m up on Australian politics (I read her Wikipedia page) so I can’t say whether or not I could support Gillard (I mean, there’s definitely points for knitting. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t sway me). But I think it’s absolutely great that she is knitting and that she is open about that.

You have to be kind of a badass lady to help found Emily’s List Australia, lead the Labor Party and become the first female Prime Minister while being an unmarried, childless atheist. Showing that she is a yarnsmith makes her even more courageous. Because a lot of people saw those photos and balked at the idea of a woman knitting baby sweaters being their Prime Minister. The domestic arts have such a stigma, it’s really frustrating. Why should knitting be anything less than fishing or playing football or drinking beer? I doubt there would be so much criticism if she said she liked to take time off and play a few rounds of golf. Maybe the photos did cost her the election but I’m glad she wasn’t afraid to be herself or challenge stereotypes about women in so many ways.

Women can lean in and wear pant suits and run the world. But I think it’s important that while doing these things, we aren’t ashamed or afraid of being women. So we knit and we sew and we cook? In the western world, those things are considered feminine and things that are feminine are silly and undervalued and down-right disrespected. It’s time the world saw that some ass kicking and being a lady goes hand in hand.

Enjoy that stuffed animal, royal baby! It’s truly a special gift!

Would you do a knitting photo shoot if you were running for office? But seriously, what would you knit for the royal baby?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Comments (10)

  • July 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

    Yay, you said yarnsmith!

    • July 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

      I’m really trying to make it happen! 🙂

  • Anna
    July 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

    I love your enthusiasm but sadly there are many inaccuracies in your article that space won’t allow for a proper response but a few points:
    – gillard was a union stooge who deposed a democratically elected Prime Minister in his first term. I wonder how that would go down in the US.
    – used gender as a wedge to divide the public (said “women would be banished” if she wasn’t elected)
    -knitting spread in AWW came out a day later and was seen for what it was, a cynical twee sugar coating ploy, it was not knitting per se.
    -prevented highly qualified capable women from being preselected for Labor seats which of course was against all the principles of Emily’s List, the group that supported her in her political career.
    -a litany of bad judgements, broken promises and huge mistakes

    Election is to come, which, if she was still leader would have taken the Labor party to the biggest loss in its history.

    Just saying.

    • July 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

      Thanks for pointing those things out! Like I said above, I’m ignorant when it comes to the politics there. Guess I got carried away! But I guess it goes to show that knitters come in all shapes and sizes.

  • Kate
    July 9, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

    Sarah, Anna clearly has a political opinion. What she has said are points to correct your inaccuracies are her opinions which show her political bias.

    In terms of your inaccuracies, what you describe as an election was a leadership ballot, where only elected members of the Labor Party are entitled to vote. At that time, the Labor Party selected Kevin Rudd. The Labor Party is entitled to change its leader in this manner (as is the other major political party in Australia).

    What can be taken as a fact about Ms Gillard’s time as prime minister was that the parliament passed a very large number of pieces of legislation – which means that those things were supported by more than just the Labor Party.

    Finally, it is my opinion that if Ms Gillard was a man she would not have been treated in the same way as she was. For example, a male prime minister has never been asked about the sexual preferences of his partner (google Howard Satler sacked for details). Nor has a male senior politician been as derided for his hobbies (see for example, Mr Howard’s power-walking or Mr Abbott’s triathlons). Last example of poor treatment is contained in Anna’s post (as an example), when she refers to the former Prime Minister as “gillard”. Male prime ministers have always been given the honorific “Mr” and in my opinion, not using “Ms Gillard” is another example of the disrespect and sexism faced by Ms Gillard which was not faced by former male prime ministers.

    • July 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm |

      Thanks for shedding more light on things, Kate! I wish I was more well-versed in the issues! It looks like I got in the middle of a political debate but I’m glad to hear different points of view. From some of the things that I’ve read, it sounds like Ms Gillard got some unfair treatment. Despite the differing opinions, I still think it’s kick ass for ladies to embrace their interests in spite the stereotypes.

  • Anna
    July 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

    Thanks Kate.

    It would be nice if you could address the points rather than sweeping them aside as ‘political opinion’. I actually think I was being generous.

    I’m actually old enough to remember Prime Minister Howard being called ‘little Johnny’. That wasn’t very respectful either. He was lampooned endlessly as a small child with an exaggerated jaw and enormous lower lip. Could it be that Australians are quite cynical towards Prime Ministers of any gender perhaps?

    Lets just stick to the facts:

    – broke her written promise on gambling reforms
    – cut $100 per week from single mothers
    – watered down a mining tax that raised almost no money during Australia’s biggest mining boom in our history
    -over $3 billion cuts to universities
    -broke her promise to bring in a carbon tax to get support from Greens to form government and more importantly bungled its introduction by putting in a set price 4 times higher than the world price.
    -stubbornly refused to acknowledge that she would not put Budget in surplus as promised, even though Blind Freddie could see it.
    -installed a mysogenist in the highest position in Parliament for political gain and then continued to support him when disgusting texts were made public (mysogeny speech).
    -made enormous concessions to union paymasters while reneging on promises to business (promised a tax cut pre election)
    -staff instigated a riot on Australia Day by claiming Opposition leader made derogatory remarks about them, which he didn’t.
    -supported loudly and repeatedly a Member of her party who is facing hundreds of charges of corruption.

    I could go on.

    The biggest piece of legislative reforms, DisabilityCare and Better Schools were largely supported by the coalition.
    And most shocking of all is your claim that parties can change leaders any time. Are we some crackpot third world country? Parties can change leaders but not Governments. That is why it has NEVER happened before in a first term and why Australians felt denied the right to have a say on who will or will not be the Prime Minister of this country. Call me old fashioned but I believe in my rights even if you don’t.

    Kate I am not saying that gender did not play a part in her downfall but you cannot use it to explain away all these problems she herself created. Remember, when she took power initially there was a wave of public enthusiasm but when the mistakes started to pile up the public were unforgiving, hence the looming catastrophic election predictions.

    As a result of being deposed history will be kinder to her as a result.


  • Kate
    July 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm |


    This is not an Australian blog, nor is it a political blog. In my view, this is not the forum for a debate about politics in Australia.

    My note to Sarah corrected the only inaccuracy in the original post (describing a leadership ballot as an election).

    I am interested in having a well informed debate about policy before the election, and am happy to discuss facts. If you have a blog (I don’t) I am happy to take the discussion there.

  • July 16, 2013 at 8:03 am |

    Very interesting – thanks for sharing! I don’t know anything about Australian politics (but it sounds like it is exactly as much fun as US politics). It’s difficult for me to imagine a female politician here coming out as a knitter, although, as a knitter, I think that the traits and habits we practice regularly would be useful to all politicians. Well, everyone, really.

    • July 16, 2013 at 8:23 am |

      The world would be a happier place with a little more knitting!

Leave a comment