December, January, February. If you are like most of our members, this means winter weather with cold, darkness, snow, blizzards, and weather that can best be described as “blah.” But not so much for our Australian members, since it is summer for them. Today’s Member Spotlight features one of our friends from Down Under, Cynthia Mulholland.
Let’s start with the question all of us want to know—how the heck did someone in Australia hear about the Greater Boston Knitting Guild, much less decide to join? Cynthia Mulholland says she doesn’t remember exactly how she came across our guild, possibly looking for presentations or classes she was interested in. But once she started seeing everything we were doing and the quality of the speakers the guild was bringing in, she immediately became interested, especially when she realized how much of what the guild had to offer was on-line and digital. But first she checked with GBKG to make sure overseas membership was allowed—YES!
Cynthia started knitting when she was a teenager. She credits her mother (sewer and knitter) and her father (tapestry/needlepoint) with their interest in crafts. Her mother had attempted to teach her knitting multiple times when Cynthia had said she had wanted to learn, but gave up after Cynthia’s interest dropped since she couldn’t start out being a professional knitter (ah, yes, those teenage years!). When Cynthia insisted one time, really, she wanted to learn, her mother rolled her eyes. The timeframe was the 80’s so big fuzzy big-shouldered jumpers/sweaters were all the rage. Cynthia persevered and made her jumper/sweater and it stretched, and stretched, and stretched some more--down to her knees. She still wore that sweater with a belt around the waist and boots, “just like Madonna!” A knitter was born!
She picked up knitting again when she had her children and enjoyed knitting for them. The wonders of yarn had evolved during the time she since first picked up knitting to include yarns such as merino being widely available. Her two boys never expressed much interest in her knitting when they were younger but are now catching on and asking for queen size bed coverings, intricate jumper/sweaters made with fingering weight or lighter weight cashmere, etc. They are also the first to point out, if she seems stressed, that she obviously hasn’t knit today.
Her interest in all things knitting took a big leap after a yarn store where she had worked for years was being sold by the owner. She realized this might be an opportunity that would not come up again. When she talked to her husband about it, he sighed and said, “Looks like I am losing the garage.” She bought the shop, moved it, changed its name, and now runs it on the weekends. Her store, Hunter Valley Wool Store [https://huntervalleywoolstore.com.au], is attached to her house on the outskirts of town with kangaroos and echidnas running through the yard, as well as the occasional snake. While owning a yarn store can be a challenge (how do you know what the next big fad is and buy the appropriate yarn six months ahead of time?), she also says it is lovely being surrounded by yarn and receiving big boxes of it all the time. As a new yarn store owner, she said it helped once she realized she didn’t have to do what every other yarn store was doing since her store was unique.
So, back to Winter. Christmas and Boxing Day for her family meant a meal with cold meats, cold salads, cold desserts, then a dip in the pool. The temperature was 36 degrees Celsius that day (almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit). (By the way, Boxing Day sounds like so much fun—why don’t we celebrate it in the US?) Where Cynthia lives, snow is a bit of a novelty and we had great fun doing a show and tell with me using my Ipad to give her a tour of my snow-clad neighborhood and answering her questions about it.
Under Covid the lockdowns were extreme in Australia. She had to close her store to everything except on-line orders and the occasion “yarn emergency” from locals who would come pick up their yarn from her mailbox. She has missed hanging out with friends in Sydney (4 hours away) and taking over a corner of a restaurant/pub, watching the yarn come out and take up more and more room. She has also missed yarn festivals where it is the only time you feel comfortable having total strangers coming up and petting some lovely hand-knit item you are wearing.
As to the time zone difference between Boston and New South Wales, it is 16 hours. That means when our meetings occur at 10 am EST, it is 2 am in New South Wales. Cynthia says it is a good thing she is a morning person, but there are times when she is unable to attend due to something she has to be doing for work that day. Her work is running the Digital Media/Communications program for a local religious order. Still, Cynthia, 2 am? She is one dedicated knitter and guild member!
Cynthia said to share with everyone that even though she is a half a world away, she is still very much a part of the knitting community. “Knitters are knitters!” She enjoys the sense of community from the GBKG and has been absolutely overwhelmed with positivity and welcomeness from everyone.