As Australia battles one of its worst bushfire seasons on record, killing more than 25 people and destroying at least 2,000 homes, an unlikely hero has emerged — knitters.
Volunteers for the Australia-based Animal Rescue Craft Guild have been working their nimble fingers to ensure the wildlife being affected by the fires are being helped. What was once a group of about 1,000 crafters has now ballooned to more than 175,000 people across the globe, according to the latest member toll on its Facebook page, after the guild put out a call for help last week.
So how exactly can a craft guild help with the fires in Australia? The fires have been burning for months, scorching about 18 million acres of land and killing more than 1 billion animals, according to one expert's estimate.
But while many animals have died, even more are left to cope with the aftermath. These animals are left without shelter, making them easy prey. But with their natural habitats destroyed, they don't have many options.
That's where the sewers and knitters come into play. In lieu of trees, their mother's pouches or nests of twigs and leaves, many animals can now curl up in knitted pouches, sewn wraps and crocheted nests.
Tons of groups and individuals have already joined the effort from all over, including the United States. The Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in North Carolina and the Westchester Congregational Church in Connecticut are sending knitted nests. Individuals and business owners in Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Ohio are sending kangaroo pouches, blankets for bats and more.
If you're a craftsman ready to lend a hand, here's how you can contribute, according to the group's Facebook page.
WHAT CAN I MAKE
Sewers: Joey pouches, hanging joey pouches, bat wraps, quilts and blankets. No hand sewn items.
Crocheters: Birds nests, blankets, joey pouch outers, animal jumpers.
Knitters: Blankets, joey pouch outers, animal jumpers.
You can find full instructions, tutorials and sewing patterns on the guild's Facebook page.