An Australian woman has channelled her passion for knitting into a powerful force for koalas. Inspired by a deep love for Australian wildlife and a desire to make a difference, her heartwarming journey is now capturing the attention and support of her community.
Meet Kayleen, a compassionate Australian who started a personal project for koalas, dedicating thousands of hours to knitting unique shawls to support native wildlife.
“I’ve always knitted,” says Kayleen, “It’s my peace-zone, to knit. I used to make things for my family, but there are only so many knitted pieces that they can all have.”
“Then I met Janine on a bird-watching weekend in Mallacoota and learned about her work at Koala Clancy Foundation. Like Janine, I love the environment and I’ve always been a bit of a tree hugger. I wanted to continue knitting, so I contacted Janine and asked if she’d like my support. She said yes, let’s try it.”
Kayleen began knitting and selling shawls under a name that pays homage to the wonderful animal that her work supports; Koala Cuddles Australia and all her profits are donated to Koala Clancy Foundation’s tree planting projects. In 2023 her following on Facebook has grown to over 1200 and Kayleen has knitted and sold 29 of her exquisite shawls. As a result of this work, Kayleen has donated thousands of dollars to Koala Clancy Foundation.
Janine and Kayleen are both members of Women Birders Australia, a Facebook community for women and non-binary birdwatchers. Many of her loyal supporters come from the birding community.
“I never really expected it to be as successful as it was,” she said.
Kayleen had long hoped to support a local organisation, and the response she received is a testament to Australia’s love for koalas. We’re grateful for her support to help plant new and much-needed habitat.
“I just wanted to knit, but I was fussy about what cause I wanted to support,” Kayleen said “I knew that donating the profits from my knitting to Koala Clancy Foundation meant that they would actually be used for trees. I wanted people’s money to truly go into a product that will put trees in the ground.”
One of Kayleen’s shawls will plant five trees for koalas, and recently she’s begun finetuning and expanding her skills in the art.
“I’m not young; I’m a retired ex-teacher. When I was looking after a family member in Orbost during the pandemic, our bird-watching hobby was curtailed and I felt like my mind was going to mush. That’s when I started working on some really complicated lace pieces, to put my brain to work.”
Recently, Kayleen has tackled the intricate art of illusion knitting. An impression is created, within the texture of the stitches, that can only be seen at certain angles. It is stunning and dynamic. When we saw her latest piece, one that took her over 200 hours to make, we knew that we had to do something really special with it.
The piece is a 100% Australian Merino Yarn, illusion-knitted shawl featuring a koala portrait and eucalyptus branches that can only be seen from a certain angle. It’s a magnificent 2.8 x 1.8m that is the centrepiece of our first ever raffle fundraiser.
On the 10th of January, 2024, we will be drawing the name of the lucky winner who will become the owner of this special piece. It’s much more than a shawl; it’s a handmade, Australian work of art that represents the nation’s passion for saving koalas. This shawl represents a future with koalas in it.
Every ticket sold in this raffle plants one tree for koalas. Even if you don’t win a prize, you’re still a winner by knowing that you’ve contributed to a new koala forest to help save the species from extinction. Plus there are exciting 2nd and 3rd prizes up for grabs too – a limited edition koala art print by Janine Duffy and a Koala Clancy Foundation merch pack.
There are only 390 tickets available in this raffle and we’ve already sold over half! Tickets are $10 and make for fantastic holiday gifts for those who love koalas. Click here to buy your ticket now.