WHEN she was seven years old, Melva Husband made her first pair of khaki socks for an Australian soldier.
It was World War II and she was a little Brisbane schoolgirl knitting under the scrutiny of a patriotic teacher.
This year – more decades than she cares to count since her classroom days – she found herself knitting for the Australian Army once again.
This time it was skull caps to be worn under the helmets of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Mrs Husband, along with more than 20 members of the QCWA Border Division Handcraft group, has knitted 100 skull caps at the request of the Australian Defence Forces.
Made from pure wool, in muted shades of brown and green, the carefully made skull caps were yesterday packed up and posted to Canberra.
For Mrs Husband it was a solemn, yet satisfying moment.
“My husband Graham was once in the navy so I have had a long association with the defence forces,” she said.
“While I never knitted parts of his uniform I did make him woollen pieces to take with him.
“So there is something very special about being involved in this project.”
It was a sentiment shared by Gail Mason, whose husband Mark was a regimental sergeant major in the Australian Army.
As a fellow QCWA Border Division handcrafter she was moved by the chance to do something for our soldiers serving overseas.
“These woollen skulls caps are worn to keep heads warm and cool under helmets, so they play a small but important part,” Mrs Mason said.
“My husband actually asked why I never made him one while he was serving.”
QCWA Border Division handcraft chairman Michelle Wilson has overseen the project on a local level.
She said the enthusiasm of the division’s knitters was matched by the support of the local RSL sub-branch and the generosity of the Bendigo Woollen Mills.
“It took me about a day to make one skull cap, but other members were able to do two or three a night,” Mrs Wilson said.
“But it was a small way to say thank you for the brave and selfless job our troops are doing in Afghanistan.”
In keeping with tradition, the QCWA Border Division sent their woollen offerings with a poignant letter, addressed to those who will end up wearing the skull caps on the frontline:
“As some of us are old enough to be your grandmothers or great-grandmothers, we felt that our pride in you could not only be knitted into these skull caps;
“But that you may feel a little of the love and appreciation, which Australians hold for you when you wear them.
Mrs Wilson said the knitted skull caps were not the only cause her handcraft offsiders took up needles to help.
She said they also made beanies for the Mission to Seaman Project as well as for babies in Africa.