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Toasty Textiles Brimming with Love

Get your beanie on for this cosy celebration of craft and community, showcasing thousands of textile creations from remote communities and across the world.

By Betty Sweetlove

On a winter’s day in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, there’s nothing like popping on your favourite beanie – and the whackier, the better.

“It’s like wearing love on your head,” says Chief Beanieologist of the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, Jo Nixon.

“Creative souls spend hours designing, knitting, crocheting, felting … people from all around the world. And all those beanies come together with their stories.”

Now in its 28th year, the festival attracts entries of over 7,000 beanies. ‘Listen to the Land’ is this year’s theme, a place-based celebration of creativity and Country.

“I was sitting at the NT Writers Festival last year, and I thought, ‘I’d love to see what a beanie maker could do with that theme.’ And with gusto, the beanies and their stories hit the spot. They tell stories of our great country, the good and the bad.”

The finest and most unbelievable headwear is on display in the exhibition, opening festivities with a bang at the grand Gala Opening Night.

“The competition beanies are always such a delight to unpack. Such imagination and so jaw-dropping. This year, a young man has made a beanie from the hair of camp dogs – how far can this go?,” asks Nixon.

In the lead-up to the festival, beanie joy is spread across the central desert.

“We’ve had workshops in Santa Teresa, Titjikala, Ali Curung, Murray Downs, Tennant Creek, Yirara College, Braitling School and the Steiner School, old hands and new. The results are stunning.”

After rummaging at Beanie Central, festival-goers can get crafty themselves at workshops running all weekend.

“This year, 13 Indigenous artists will travel from the remote communities and run workshops where visitors can sit with them, learn how to make a beanie, hear cultural stories, learn a bit of language and have a bit of a giggle.”

With dedicated opening hours for those who require more space and quiet, grab your own woolly wonder to treasure for years to come.

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

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