Tonietta Mackin, a woman with a heart as warm as the garments she makes, has become a shining light for families of small and premature newborn babies born at Goulburn Valley Health.
In 2021, Mrs Mackin’s granddaughter was born small — too small for any newborn-sized clothing pieces, which sparked the idea of knitting beanies and jumpers for small or premature babies.
Mrs Mackin found solace in the company of a knitting group called ‘Stitch and Chat’, a gathering of like-minded women who share her passion for creating warm clothing and blankets.
“I would go to a craft group that we had, and I’d be knitting and most of them would be crocheting, and they said, ‘what are you doing’ and I said, ‘it’s for the babies at the hospital’ and they said, ‘we will do it too!’” she said.
Mrs Mackin said each garment created was a testament to her belief that every baby, regardless of their size or circumstance, deserved to be swathed in warmth and tenderness.
“Every time I knit, I think of my granddaughter and I know there’s people out there who can’t afford a lot of clothes, so as I knit I always have that in the back of my mind,” she said.
Clinical director of obstetrics and gynaecology Associate Professor Sinead Barry said it was wonderful to have the community’s input at the beginning of a baby’s life, and she appreciated the efforts of Mrs Mackin and her knitting group.
She said the garments not only served their purpose of clothing the babies, but were also a great keepsake for the parents.
“The parents and babies love the knitted creations, pretty much all of their babies wear their woolly jumper or woolly hat until they leave the hospital, and it’s a very special thing for each family to keep when they leave,” Prof Barry said.
“We have women come in and have their baby unexpectedly, so the clothes that they plan don’t fit because their babies are a lot smaller, so it’s lovely to have something that is size appropriate when the baby comes that is a bit unexpected.”
Mrs Mackin said the group members knitted the garments with spare wool they owned or from donations within the community.
If you would like to donate wool to be made into babies’ clothing or wish to donate to GV Health Foundation, call 5831 0160 or visit https://gvhealthfoundation.org.au/