Pair of knitting needles used in the 1950s by Anna Fantini in Italy when she was 11 years old to make shawls, scarves and socks, under her mother's supervision and teaching. The padding at the end of the needles was applied by Anna to avoid wearing out the clothes. In Italy, knitting is done with longer needles than those used in Australia. One of the needles is firmly held under the right arm, while the one held in the left hand is moved to do the stitches.

Anna Fantini, nee Improta was born in Torre Annunziata, a town near Naples, Italy, in 1943. Her family was very poor and they were forced to take her out of school when she was around 10 years old. Soon after Anna completed an apprenticeship in dressmaking with a local dressmaker for two years. Anna migrated to Australia with her husband and children in 1981. They were granted entry on humanitarian grounds as they were victims of the 1981 earthquake that devastated the Campania region. Anna had two sisters in Melbourne, one of whom had arrived in 1954.

Physical Description

The knitting needles are of a fine gauge shiny steel. At one end of each needle blue and white material is wrapped and tied with string to form the protection needed against damage to clothes whilst in use.


This pair of knitting needles is part of a small but evocative collection which represents poverty, resilience and childhood skills. It also represents the importance of material culture in maintaining connections to childhood memories, memories that can be both reassuring and painful. This is particularly significant within the context of migration narratives where people are not only disconnected from possessions but from homeland as well.

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