- Comment: Let the knitting carpers go cold
- The Pulse Live: Politics from Parliament with Stephanie Peatling
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has posed on an armchair knitting a toy kangaroo for the royal baby in an upcoming spread in The Australian Women’s Weekly.
Purl one, knit one
Labor senator Louise Pratt says the PM's knitting is perfectly understandable and a community activity no less valid than Tony Abbott's publicised sporting passions.
The photograph, in which Ms Gillard is surrounded by balls of wool, knitting needles and accompanied by her cavoodle Reuben, contrasts with the way the Prime Minister has presented herself in public life.
Ms Gillard, who has spent her career eschewing feminine cliches, was reportedly encouraged to be photographed knitting by her advisers, according to the magazine.
Fairfax Media has contacted the Prime Minister's office for comment.
''If there is something I hope I have done for the image of women in public life is that we can go into an adversarial environment like Parliament and we can dominate it and conquer it,' Ms Gillard told the Women's Weekly.
''But that's not all of me. (Knitting the kangaroo) is an opportunity to show a side of me. I can't imagine Laurie Oakes saying: 'hmmm, knitting patterns. What are you working on at the moment?' ''
Ms Gillard, a republican, said she thought that knitting for the royal baby would be a ''cute project to work on''.
''In terms of knitting for Kate's baby — I knit for babies — in part, because they are smaller projects,'' Ms Gillard said. ''I've got not that much time in my life. You can get them done and there's a sense of satisfaction in having completed it.''
The picture was trending heavily on twitter on Tuesday morning, with many questioning the strategy behind the photograph.
Paying homage to the political story of the morning, Labor senator Louise Pratt was crocheting a scarf in the Fairfax Media studio as National Senator Fiona Nash criticised Ms Gillard for carrying on a stunt.
''I think the general view out there will be why on earth would we have the Prime Minister there with some knitting needles?'' Senator Nash said.
''It really shows the lack of connection the Prime Minister has with the people.''
Senator Pratt rejected this argument, saying if it was OK to have Opposition Leader Tony Abbott posing on a bicycle, then why could Ms Gillard not be photographed doing one of her hobbies?
''I've just recently learnt to crochet and I kind of agree with the Prime Minister, it's quite a relaxing thing to do,'' Senator Pratt said.
Senator Pratt said there were a ''few closet knitters out there'' and that the Prime Minister was an ''authentic knitter''.
While Ms Gillard's leadership has been under pressure from supporters of Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister has been trying to maintain pressure on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Since making global headlines for her speech in Parliament last year in which she accused Mr Abbott of ''misogyny'', Ms Gillard has prosecuted a gender strategy, framing the Opposition Leader as a threat to women.
She raised doubts about whether Mr Abbott would withdraw abortion rights and criticised the ''men in blue ties'' who would marginalise women under an Abbott government.
At the March funeral of Australia's first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Joan Child, Ms Gillard praised the feminist trailblazer for refusing to succumb to requests to be photographed cleaning or baking.