Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Knit your own social network

About three hours ago I got back from my first visit this trip to the local Knit and Natter group.  We meet a couple of miles away from where I’m staying, in the home of the founder in another tiny, north Scottish village, looking out onto glorious views of coast and hills.

Usually there are between six and ten of us there, spending every Wednesday morning over coffee and cake, surrounded by yarn, needles and patterns, and setting the world to rights as we knit or crochet. It sounds dreadfully cosy, perhaps even a bit twee, when put down in black and white like that, but I think it’s actually something much more positive.

Of course there’s some gentle gossip over the coffee-cups, but it’s kind gossip, rooted in a genuine concern for the well-being of the inhabitants of these tiny, scattered, remote communities. We learn who is ill or in hospital and might need a friendly visit or a bit of help. We share news of the local schools and other organisations, find out when this or that social activity is planned and what help may be needed to put it on.

We also share our skills, with the more experienced happily imparting their knowledge to the beginners or the returners to the craft. We decide what we’re going to make to raise money for the local church and other good causes, and also where members might be able to sell their other beautifully-made items to raise money for more yarn.

The trouble with being a truly addicted knitter - and we all are (or soon will be) - is that you have to find a home for what you make and there are only so many sweaters, scarves and hats our families and friends can use. You also have to buy yarn for further knitting and good quality yarn doesn’t come cheap nowadays. That’s why, as I've written about here, I love making socks. They are small, cheap to make, and everyone needs socks. J

It’s a pleasant, sociable way to spend a Wednesday morning and I really enjoy going there. But I also think we make more than just our knitted items as we knit and natter our way through our three hours together. In our own small way I think we make our communities a little stronger with our exchange of information, our interest and our concern. In addition, we find that working together, even if only once a week, is better than always working apart, better for ourselves and also better for the causes for which we work.

So whether I’m knitting socks, or tiny sweaters for premature babies, or just admiring the amazing skill of those busy creating a lacy scarf or gossamer-fine shawl, I find knitting and nattering is as good and productive a way of spending some of my life as I can think of. That’s my craft addiction, do please tell me yours.


  1. I do admire people who have such skills as your group. If I were to embark on knitting a garment for someone who was old and cold it would be midsummer before it was finished. To say nothing of the lack of skill evident in every dropped stitch.
    In fact, I fear the nattering would be the only bit I'd be much good at.
    You sound a very close-knit community!!!!

  2. I am absolutely with you on knitting though I only ever did it on my own - even in Yorkshire - and very few folk knit in Andalucia! I buy my wool from ebay - am just awaiting some gorgeous Araucania yarn in oranges and reds - exciting!!
    My true craft addiction was making chocolates and if we ever find a home with a cool kitchen, I'll make more!
    Love your socks! It's the one thing I haven't tried and mean to as soon as possible.

  3. Hello Ray and thanks for visiting. I really wouldn't worry about your skill level. In any good knitting group you'll find everyone from complete beginners to the amazingly expert. Today we had a young woman who was just starting to learn, being shown how to cast on by one of the best knitters I've ever met.

    Yes, it is a close-knit community, and one I really enjoy being part of when we're here. We've been coming up for some years now and feel very much at home during our visits.

  4. Hi Annie, it's always great to meet a fellow addict :-) If you ever get the chance to knit in a group, do try it. It's such fun and really helps to kick-start whatever you're working on as well as giving you some very expert advice if you need it. Your yarn sounds wonderful. What are you planning to make?

    The socks are the first I knitted for DH. You should have seen his face when he tries them on and realised how comfortable they are.

    Home-made chocolates! Yum! I'll tell you what - if you give me the recipe for those I'll give you my sock pattern :-)

  5. In my french group I find that I can't knit accurately and participate in the conversation. Practically every time I have to undo most of what I have done :-(

    But I still wouldn't miss it.

  6. Rosie, I guess you'll have to have a special knitting-group project that's so simple that you can't go wrong. Your French-conversation scarf, perhaps?

    I do admire you for joining a French-speaking group. A wonderful way to get to know people and improve your French. Unfortunately the only one I've found so far in our bit of Normandy is entirely English-speaking, even though it didn't set out to be that way.

  7. That's a good idea. I don't think the group will last much longer. There have only been a couple of people for the last couple of weeks. The trouble with it being on a Sunday is that french women have too much to do clearing up the lunch!

    I tried to introduce the possibility of courses but didn't get very far.

  8. oh, that would be a shame, Rosie. I must admit I've never heard of a knitting group meeting on a Sunday and it surprises me that it ever got started, given the stress in France on Sunday as a family day. Would it not be possible to find another day to suit everyone?

  9. We have a knit and natter - although it's called Finish the Row - that was a spin off from our WI Lite. It's mainly younger women and they meet at the pub. I am in awe of their talent as I can't even knit a square. You can never underestimate the value of any of these social groups to rural communities. Great socks too!

  10. Yes, Wylye Girl, knitting groups meet in all sorts of places - private homes, pubs, coffee-shops, even public libraries. Get a few knitting addicts together and they'll knit anywhere and teach anyone! I bet they could have you knitting socks one day :-)

    I agree that social groups of this (or almost any) kind are increasingly important as a kind of social glue, especially in small communities, where people can often live in remote and isolated spots.

  11. Is anyone in your group knitting the Royal wedding characters? A friend of mine is doing that at high speed. I'm useless at knitting but I think Knit and Natter groups are a great idea for those who can. I do somthing similar in a group, but with watercolour paint. Pleased to have discovered your blog.

  12. Hello Nancy and pleased you've found my blog. No Royal Wedding characters here and interestingly not a mention of the event in the whole three hours. London seems so far away up here. I've seen knitted crib characters at DD's church (not sure if she made them) and they work amazingly well. I may try them sometime.

    If you can't knit, I can't paint or draw, though I wish I could. There's something about working in a group which enhances the experience and it's a great place to learn.

  13. My addiction at the moment is patchwork, and although I have been to a group and learned the basics I really prefer to work on my own, even though I enjoy company. As it is now spring the garden has been calling for attention with a very loud voice, so my sewing machine has not been out recently. However after much thought, and reading your blog about knitting socks I decided to invest in a pattern and some yarn and they are coming along very nicely, but I have only got as far as the first heel. I can knit and listen,so here's to the socks ready for the winter.

  14. Lovely to see you again, fellow pilgrim. Glad you can spare time from the garden to experiment with sock-knitting as a change from your lovely patchwork. I love knitting, but am a real incompetent with a sewing machine and can just about hem by hand.

    Good luck with the socks. The only problem with knitting them is that when you finish one and feel very pleased with yourself, you have to cast on and do it all over again!


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