9.24.2008

Book Cosies (Art as Evidence)






It is mainly knitting that goes on at the St. Ninians Craft Group meetings every Tuesday afternoon. Well actually, it’s mainly talking. One woman announces with surprise in her voice, “I’ve done 6 rows today!” The group is the only one that does not take a summer break, but continues to meet all year round. Sitting around the table with them and hearing the right good blether going on around me, I instantly understood that the knitting is purely a vehicle for companionship amongst the women who attend.

Most had a hand in knitting the cosies for this book, and a few made it their mission to produce them. I was told, “Every time you ask what she’s knitting it’s another cosy, she’s made hundreds.” The task to construct each cosy was often shared between people, with each woman’s forte used in collaboration. There are knitters and sewers in the group, and when squares were created they were often passed to those who got the satisfaction of sewing up the end product and popping on the button.

I spoke to one woman who had not long started coming to the group. She was on her own and found meeting each week a great source of friendship and company. She had knitted a cover for the book, but shawls were really her thing. She knitted away with lilac-blue wool as she told me about the Prayer Shawls that the group knitted. This is particularly impressive to me since I relearned to knit not that long ago, and keeping a pattern in your head, counting stitches, remembering which row you are on and talking all at once is way beyond me. Every few weeks the group gathers in a semi-circle and a prayer is said to go with the shawl to whoever receives it. Each member holds each shawl and sends their thoughts with it also. The shawls go out into the local area but they are also sent to Malawi. She seemed very proud of this connection to such a far-flung place - a little piece of Abbeyview’s creativity and community spirit travelling the world.

On the mention of being creative, however, the woman said that no, no she wasn’t, her friend was arty and chose all the paint colours for her flat because she wouldn’t have a clue what would go. The suggestion was that knitting is different to drawing or painting, but I disagree. The connection between brain and hand to produce or reproduce something is a fundamental act of creativity. It seems to be our perception of being creative that limits us. Society and upbringing moulds people into labelling themselves as ‘arty’ or not. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to point out the creativity involved, to show the person the evidence, and so give them the confidence to create. The knitted cosies of this book are evidence, both of creativity and of community.

Carol Lambie



Nicola Atkinson Does Fly

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