WHO WE ARE
Knit for Life is a registered charity providing an income to a community of women artisan knitters in the Chatsworth area of Masvingo Province of South East Zimbabwe.
The skilled Zimbabwean knitters work with pride and attention to detail to create a bespoke range of cotton knitwear that has been designed in Australia for the Australian market.
The knitters use their income to alleviate their extreme poverty and improve their living conditions through their ability to access food and shelter education and healthcare services for themselves and their families. You can read more about the knitters on the Knit for Life blog and under Meet the Knitters in the main menu.
Empowering the community to help themselves is Knit For Life’s guiding purpose.
Twin sisters, Mally and Jackie Ellis started Knit for Life, then known as Grasshoppers, in 2000 after immigrating to Australia and recognising a gap in the market for heirloom quality, handmade cotton knitwear, cotton being an ideal knitting fibre to use for the Australian climate. The sisters set out to supply a range of baby and children’s knitwear, whilst supporting the impoverished Zimbabwean community near where they grew up.
Growing up, we had always admired the skills and talents of the artisan knitters from the rural areas close to where we were born in Zimbabwe. My mother was living in Harare at the time and would open her house to a group of knitters who travelled to Harare from the Chatsworth area near Masvingo to spend the day knitting under her guidance. Under her guidance, our first group of knitters were trained to meet Australian standards. Some of the women had HIV, and this was their therapy during their illness. They looked forward to their trips to Harare where they knew they would be treated to a wonderful lunch and cups of tea whilst knitting and chatting together. Soon after, my mother Lily appointed Stella Nyathi to manage local operations. Stella quickly proved herself invaluable and is still with us today.
In Zimbabwe, Stella now manages Knit for Life’s ever-growing team of knitters, which today, number almost 100. Stella also supplies each knitter with yarn, checks each product for quality assurance, packages up the orders ready for shipping to Australia and works together with a group of experienced knitters who themselves have become team leaders, training up the new, inexperienced knitters.
In 2016, Grasshoppers evolved to become Knit for Life, and in 2017 became a registered charity with the ACNC, (Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission). In 2018 Knit for Life was accepted by the ACNC as having Public Benevolent Institution subtype status which now enables us to accept tax deductible gift donations. ( See “Donate Now” tab)
Knit for Life is now managed by a dedicated team of women in Sydney, Australia, including Mally, Sarah, Alexis, Anni and Eleni. This small team, together with Stella in Zimbabwe are working harder than ever to positively impact this community in one of Zimbabwe’s poorest and most disadvantaged regions.
All profits from the sale of Knit for Life products are directed back into the Knit for Life community.