DOES a good feminist knit? Should a Prime Minister knit? Julia Gillard has been criticised in some quarters for posing for The Australian Women’s Weekly midway through the creation of a woollen toy kangaroo for the new Windsor baby, balls of yarn tossed whimsically in the foreground.

Reuben the First Cavoodle – the PM’s stoical hound, who stands fluffy yet firm amid the nation’s political tumult – guards her feet.

Both Reuben and the Prime Minister have been beautifully styled for the shoot and it is an arresting image, imbued with a sort of well-lit, camp staginess, that could see it hanging in the National Portrait Gallery one day.

But knitting? Isn’t crafting, in all its forms, the hobby of the 1950s’ housewife? Knitting is something nannas do, right? Therefore, it must be lame? I mean, it’s not as if she’s achieving anything, like, say, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott when he sets up his photo opportunities.

He rides bikes. He volunteers for the Rural Fire Service. He strides. He is active.

“It really does seem a bit of a stunt,” Nationals Senator Fiona Nash said yesterday.

“I think it just really shows . . . the lack of connection the Prime Minister has with the people. They want her to talk about policy. They want the Prime Minister to run the country. They want the Prime Minister to be competent in the job she is doing and what do we see? A story about the Prime Minister knitting.”

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham, speaking on Sky TV, expressed a similar sentiment.

I mean, she’s not actually doing anything, is she? It’s a pose! How dare she!

Actually, knitting is a great pastime for the efficient working woman. There is a reason our mothers knit – because it is the best hobby for the multitasking female who has a lot to do and little time to do it in.

The knitter can create something practical that is useful to her loved ones and importantly, she can do other things while she’s engaged in it. Prime ministerial things, like receive a briefing on the Syrian crisis, or listen to a topical radio program, or watch a Four Corners report on the live export trade.

Sometimes it’s the only hobby a time-pressed woman can get away with – because if you’re the Prime Minister, or a working mother, or a chief executive, or a nurse or a childcare worker, you have a lot going on. You probably don’t have time for long bike rides.

Apart from its efficient, practical charm, knitting has gained an achingly cool retro-hipster status in recent years, in keeping with the general revival of the arts and crafts movement.

When she names knitting and watching Game of Thrones as her favourite pastimes, the Prime Minister could be copying her interests from the resume of the average 20-year-old.

But what of the staginess of the photo? It’s so posed; she looks so unnatural. Perhaps the Prime Minister should have consented to a photographer capturing her in situ at the Lodge, in her ugg boots in front of Midsomer Murders, which is probably a more realistic knitting environment.

But it’s not exactly unheard of for politicians to massage their own images, is it?

Abbott has also appeared in the Weekly, with his wife and daughters, styled and posed and lit beautifully.

Reportedly, the Prime Minister’s media adviser, John McTernan, approached the Weekly to set up the shot. How unseemly – a spin doctor pitching a photo to a magazine editor that portrays the boss in a soft and sympathetic manner. That’s never happened before. Especially not in the lead-up to an election.

Knit on, Prime Minister, and let the anti-knitting brigade carp. More to the point, let them go cold this winter.

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