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Issue 58 - Knitting Together

Scotland Magazine Issue 58
August 2011


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Knitting Together

The Editor aims high starting a new hobby.

Scotland has a long tradition of crafts, from weaving to woodwork, knitting to needlecraft, and as a nation is justifiably proud of its artisans.

It is really the knitting side of things that have got me interested at the moment. I have always fancied owning a lovely Fair Isle kep (hat) or even one of those glorious sweaters, but they are like gold dust to get hold of.

Knitting was so integral to the crofters living on the Scottish Isles during the 17th and 18th centuries that whole families were involved. Fair Isle techniques were used to create elaborate colourful patterns. Sweaters were essential garments for the fishermen of these islands because the natural oils within the wool provided some element of protection against the harsh weather encountered while out fishing.

So, with that as my ultimate goal, at the weekend I took up some needles and made my first faltering steps into the knitting circle.

I was inspired to start after a chat with a friend who knits. She told me that many psychologists and psychiatrists advocate knitting if you are feeling stressed or worried about things; after about four rows and a little help from my wife I am not too sure about that. I was certainly quite tired, but am not sure that the amount of swearing as I dropped stitches, missed loops and generally got my needles crossed would be acceptable to any knitting circle; apart from one perhaps in prison or on a Royal Navy vessel.

However I am now five or six rows into my scarf, knitting not purling as I think I should crawl before walking, and I am quite proud of myself.

Over the weekend I spoke to the owners of my local wool shop and they were fascinated I had decided to start. Apparently while knitting is viewed as a female pastime, some of the best knitters in the world are men, and in the past it was the men who did the knitting. It was probably the First World War that ended the male dominance of knitting. In fact in recent years the art of knitting has declined in general, probably due to the skills not being handed on. My Gran was a prodigious knitter, but it was not passed down the male line.

So I feel I am doing my part. I realise I am several years away from attempting anything Fair Isle style, but once I finish I will wear my first creation with pride; even if it is full of imperfections and holes where I have messed up

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