The magic of having a yarn

NOW in its sixth magical year, Maleny’s Knitfest has grown to become a beloved household name nationwide. From July 1-3 over 10,000 people are expected to attend the yarn and fibre extravaganza and in what has become a season of joy and creativity that fills the hearts of locals and visitors alike.
Despite the financial challenges faced by free community events, Knitfest has defied the odds, with its longevity a testament to the support and backing it has enjoyed over the years.
While funding has been limited, the festival has found solace in the incredible backing of the Sunshine Coast Council, especially the dedicated support of Councillor Winston Johnston. This year, Knitfest received grants totalling $8,000, with additional contributions from local businesses such as Season’s IGA. The event’s positive impact on the local economy is evident, with businesses experiencing a remarkable 40-60% increase in revenue during Knitfest.
Knitfest not only nurtures a vibrant community of fibre enthusiasts but has also ignited the growth of the fibre industry on the Sunshine Coast. What was once an unnoticed sector has transformed into the fourth largest industry in the region. Traders, suppliers, and artists who once operated out of their homes or garages are now expanding their businesses, creating jobs, and supporting the local economy. The festival’s workshops, taught by some of the country’s finest fibre artists, have empowered individuals to pursue their passion and turn it into a viable source of income.
One of Knitfest’s unique characteristics is its commitment to sustainability and community involvement. They have fostered a culture of recycling and reusing by accepting donations of yarn and unfinished projects. Items that can be finished are either sold or donated to those in need. Nothing goes to waste, with even small contributions finding their place in the festival’s dazzling decorations. The sense of ownership felt by the community is heart-warming, as both children and adults take pride in seeing their creations displayed for all to admire.
While challenges have arisen, such as rising costs and the heart-breaking loss of decorations during a yarnbombing project in Brisbane, the spirit of resilience and determination has prevailed. The Knitfest team – led by the amazing Debs Swain – with their resourcefulness and support from the community, has overcome obstacles and continues to bring smiles to the faces of everyone who visits Maleny during the festival.
As Knitfest approaches its 2023 edition, Debs says she is contemplating retiring from her full-time volunteer role. Her dedication, expertise, and passion have been the driving force behind the event’s success. However, discussions with interested groups who are eager to carry on the festival indicate that this may not be the end. Knitfest has become a powerful force for good, and its legacy is poised to continue, embracing new leadership while honouring the remarkable foundation that Debs has laid.
This year’s Knitfest promises to be a celebration of community, creativity, and growth. From the captivating yarnbombing displays to the taster workshops and trade stalls, the festival offers a diverse array of experiences for all ages. The centrepiece of this year’s event is Miss Scarlet, a handcrafted mannequin riding a yarn-bombed motorcycle—a symbol of the festival’s ingenuity and artistic expression.
Knitfest is not just an event; it’s a testament to the power of community, the beauty of craftsmanship, and the transformative impact of creativity. It has woven together the threads of the Sunshine Coast, sparking economic growth, inspiring artistic endeavours, and fostering connections that will continue to flourish long after.