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Massey graduate weaves blanket as NZ gift for royal baby

Press Release – Massey University
One of three main gifts sent by the New Zealand government to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following the birth of the royal prince is a woollen blanket woven by College of Creative Arts textile design graduate Christine Brimer.

Ms Brimer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Design with Honours in 2015, was approached by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to submit a design on behalf of New Zealand for a baby blanket that featured the country’s flora and fauna.

After her design was selected, Ms Brimer’s set to work weaving the New Zealand wool natural cream Corriedale blanket grown and spun by Anna Gratton Yarns Ltd from Feilding . It showcases Manuka as a versatile and adaptable nursery plant that enables regeneration of native forests.

“I wanted to move past the expected fern and pohutukawa and present another important member of New Zealand’s diverse flora,” she says.

She also made a second blanket should something happen to the first.

“I ended up weaving two blankets in case of a coffee crisis or something!”

While Ms Brimer originally studied as a plant physiologist, it was working as a mature student studying textile design at Massey’s Wellington campus and weaving wool where she believes she found her niche.

“I was drawn to weave as a technique to design and build cloth incorporating complex patterning,” she says.

She credits textile design staff including Associate Professor Sandy Heffernan, lecturer Natalie McLeod and former staff member Flora Waycott, with equipping her with the skills to undertake the sampling and research necessary before starting a weave.

Using a 24 shaft weaving loom, she says her woollen products are created through “a wonderful interface” of mechanical and digital technologies.

“Like the musical instruments they resemble, these looms require care and tuning to play at their best and they have become an extension of my thinking and my hands.”

Reaction among family and friends is that the blanket was made using safe hands too.

“My initial excitement was all about being able to promote strong New Zealand wool and to show what naturally coloured wool can become in the design process,” she says. “All babies are special and I find weaving New Zealand wool blankets is a satisfying and functional gift for keeping a baby warm.”

Other official gifts included a selection of New Zealand children’s books. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also added a gift of a baby romper made by the sister of her partner Clarke Gayford.

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