Being of Nordic persuasion, it was perhaps inevitable that I ended up working at Knit Works in Edinburgh this past weekend.
Knit Works was a collaboration between the National Museum of Scotland, The Danish Cultural Institute, Edinburgh Fashion Festival and local yarn shop McAree Brothers with Rowan Yarns donating a sizeable amount of yarn to the event. I helped supervise and cheerlead a staggering amount of knitters as they worked on a collaborative project celebrating Scottish and Nordic knitting culture. Although it was a very busy weekend, Knit Works was also a nice change of pace for me. I had spent the previous weekend working at Unwind Brighton and I could not help but marvel at the differences between the two events.
I think we talk a lot about the knitting community – making it sound as though it is a monolithic, homogeneous entity with similar tastes, attitudes, and interests. I would suggest it is better to talk about the knitting communities as knitters are very diverse with very different approaches to knitting, tastes and lifestyles.
While Unwind was very much about physically consolidating a pre-existing online community, Knit Works felt like giving various communities the chance to meet however briefly. It attracted a lot of knitters who were seasoned knitters-in-public, who wielded charts with ease, and who were comfortable going off script. Being in the middle of the National Museum, it also caught the attention of tourists: people who were unused to following English-languaged instructions, people who knew how to knit a little and people who were just excited to get into crafts for ten minutes. We also got a lot of people who were seasoned knitters but had never knitted in public before, people who discovered the pleasure of meeting other knitters, and people who found it a challenge to talk and knit at the same time. I found it incredibly interesting to watch this merging of communities and seeing people finding common ground through knitting.
(I will never tire of watching knitters’ hands work, incidentally.)
Carol Meldrum, Heather Peterson and I worked out a design based upon the squares knitters had handed in on the day. Originally the plan had been to have a giant Norwegian-style snowflake on a neutral background. We received so many colourful, vibrant, and interesting squares that we revised the plan significantly.
Instead we devised a colourwash design (I was briefly accused of having colour OCD, thank you Carol) which allowed a lot of beautiful squares to shine. We also had a pile of swatches donated to us by the machine knitting girls from Brora, pom poms were donated by kids who had been yarn-bombing the museum, and we were given pretty crochet squares from an Arne & Carlos workshop (totally hyggelige guys in that very special Scandinavian way).
Within ten hours of starting we went from a pile of yarn to a big, colourful blanket that will be touring Scotland over the next few months. It helps when you have a lot of happy knitters on hand to help you. I found it really nice to spend time among Scandinavians (we had a good turn-out of those, tak!) and just chill out with knitting for once.
However, after the last two weeks, I am seriously shattered. I’m a textbook introvert and the next few days will be spent recharging my batteries. As much as I love meeting knitters & getting all excited about making other people excited, I’m going to enjoy my own company and some blessed solitude with a dash of knitting. Hopefully it will rain.