Launch of Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern Monday 5 May 2014
In commemoration of Sir Douglas Mawson’s birthday (5 May 1882) Artlab Australia, the South Australian Museum and the Adelaide City Council launched Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern created by Kristin Phillips, Principal Conservator, Textiles at Artlab Australia and Master Knitter, Lianne Gould on 5 May 2014.
The launch took place at Mawson’s monument on North Terrace, in front of the University of Adelaide with Artlab conservators and Lianne donning the balaclavas knitted by Lianne, a fitting site for such a ceremony.
The knitting pattern was created by Kristin Phillips, Principal Conservator Textiles, Artlab Australia and Lianne Gould, Master Knitter with thanks to Mark Pharaoh, Senior Collections Manager (Mawson Centre, Australian Polar Collection, and History of Science Collection), South Australian Museum. The idea to create this pattern came during Kristin’s treatment of Mawson’s original balaclava for the South Australian Museum collections, one of Artlab’s major clients.
Douglas Mawson’s epic adventures in the Antarctic in the early 20th Century and his ongoing contribution to science in South Australia have ensured his place in the history books. The iconic image of Mawson wearing a knitted balaclava resonates with the Australian psyche. It is instantly recognised by most Australians and not just because it was used on the first $100 note (1984–1996).
The famous balaclava has come via the Mawson family into the collection of the South Australian Museum. Examination of the balaclava has revealed it to be a most interesting and evocative garment. It is clearly a one-off, hand knitted from a variety of different colours of grey and blue flecked wools, the crown even featuring a small amount of pink mixed. The stripes are random and without pattern – such as you might expect if you were using up scraps from your wool bag – and although it follows the general shape of many of the balaclava patterns available before WWII the ribbing is an unusual 7 stitches wide.
It is unknown who made the balaclava but we can speculate. In Paquita Mawson’s biography of Mawson she mentions a number of brightly coloured bags that she made for the 1911 trip which were used for packing food and marking food caches. They were known by the expeditioners as “Paquita bags”. She later tells of Mawson waiting for her to arrive as he has many socks that need darning. She also writes the story of sitting on the side of the road in outback Flinders Ranges knitting whilst waiting for Mawson to return from collecting specimens. These brief glimpses of her life clearly show she was a needle-woman of some skill and it is very likely that she is the maker. Perhaps she used the quirky repetition of 7 for luck and the little bit of pink to remind Douglas of her!
Sale of the Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern
The pattern can be purchased from the South Australian Museum Shop. Please follow this link below and email the Museum Shop:
Further information about The Mawson Gallery at the South Australian Museum:
Lianne Gould, Master Knitter and Kristin Phillips, Principal Textiles Conservator at Artlab Australia donning the knitted balaclavas at Sir Douglas Mawson’s monument on North Terrace, Adelaide at the launch of Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern on 5 May 2014
Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern created by Kristin Phillips, Principal Textiles Conservator from Artlab Australia and Lianne Gould, Master Knitter
Front of the knitted replica balaclava knitted by Lianne Gould from the Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern
Newspaper article featuring the Sir Douglas Mawson’s Balaclava Knitting Pattern Launch on 5 May in Adelaide from The Advertiser 5 May 2014