Riccarton High School ANZAC poppy blanket

After hearing about a display in Australia created using crocheted and knitted poppies, the library team at Riccarton Community and School wanted to do something similar. Library Manager, Sally Blake explains.

Inspired by this wonderful story, we decided to do something like this ourselves. The Poppy Blanket project was born.

The Upper Riccarton Community and School Library is a joint use library. This uniqueness brings wonderful opportunities like the Poppy Blanket for the school and the community to work together.

A Knit’n’Stitch group meets in the Library every week, made up of students, teachers, members of the public, and a librarian or 2. We gave ourselves about 6 months months to prepare, a little longer than the usual preparation for a display, but we needed to collect a lot of poppies.

Gathering poppies

We created a flyer to advertise what we were planning, with patterns on the back. At the weekly Knit’n’Stitch anyone could pop along and learn how to knit or crochet a poppy to add to the blanket. The flyer also went out to other public libraries, and some of their knitting groups sent in poppies.

The poppies came from far and wide and are many different shapes, sizes and shades of red. A friend in London even sent a few poppies. Some even have buttons in the middle from original Army uniforms.

As we sewed on the poppies, people would share their memories and stories of family members who fought in one of the wars.

Creating memories and conversations

The display is stunning in its simplicity, and the response has been awesome.

Students and members of the public stop to take pictures and talk about it. It's quite the topic of conversation. It’s all about remembering, and has become a wonderful trigger for many conversations about this event in our history.

We are also displaying First World War themed books, including non-fiction, fiction and children’s.

Related content

An unidentified New Zealand outside his dug-out in a trench during World War I. A sign above the door reads Whangamomona which may be where the soldier hails from.
An unidentified New Zealand soldier outside his dug-out, 1914-1918. Ref: PA1-o-026-22-5. Please check copyright before reusing.
First World War resource guide for schools ​Access online First World War and WW100 commemoration resources you can use at school, including the experiences and perspectives of New Zealanders.​