bestway knitted lace jumperKnitting has taken Britain by ‘yarnstorm’, as younger generations grab their wool and head to the pub for a late-night knit. Knitting patterns aloft, modern knitters clear their local pubs’ bars to make way for the 21st century twinset and defy bemused locals with their handcrafted wonders. Swapping their spray cans for knitting needles when no one is looking, they also cover statues and landmarks with their creations. This is the new breed of knitter. Their craft, so long associated with grannies and hippies has been reinvented and revived for the contemporary palate thanks to groups such as Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, Knit the City, Guerrilla Knitting, and more. Jasmine Phillips takes a look at the modern knitting revolution.

Popping up in every town and city you would be hard pushed not to find a knitting circle. Open to all and mostly free to join, they promote good old-fashioned fun and a sense of community whilst remaining fuddy-duddy free. With meetings in quirky pubs and cafés, members purl with a pint or cast-on with a coffee, working on projects from scarves to phone box cosies.

A number of these groups engage in the strange art of knit-graffiti and embark on large-scale projects clothing statues, decorating railings and keeping London’s phone boxes toasty warm:  an act they affectionately call ‘Yarnstorming’, or across the pond in America, ‘Yarnbombing’.

The most prominent knitting group for the scarf-makers out there is Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, although there are, of course, a multitude of groups to be found operating independently as well.  Stitch ‘n’ Bitch began in America, taking its name from Debbie Stoller’s  light-hearted knitting books. Her new and fun way of approaching the formerly stagnating craft inspired people and the club really took off. Groups sprung up everywhere and it is now very much international.

“It seems everyone wants to get creative!” says Julia Knight, leader of the East Dulwich Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group, who has noticed an overwhelming increase in people interested in knitting and sewing. Groups average at about 10 people, but can include anything from 6-30 people, with new faces at each weekly meet.

Katherine Hepburn KnittingKnight puts the growing enthusiasm down to the changing times and suggests ‘we are looking to the past for inspiration’.  “We seem to have lost our sense of community.” she says, which is something of the past that her group eagerly hope to regain. “It is such a great way to make new friends and meet people,” Knight told QueensOfVintage, “and I certainly don’t feel as anonymous as before.”

Often misunderstood, the pensioners pastime finds a new lease of life in these groups and Kate Buchanan (West London S’n’B) values the solidarity of the knitting circle: “We gain mutual appreciation for our projects as friends, hubbies and boyfriends don’t always understand.” For Rowan Benjamin (Hammersmith S’n’B) it’s all about passing on her skill:” One of my favourite things has been showing a complete beginner how knit.” It is important to her that the knitting know-how that allows such a creative and individual activity is not lost.

Collectively modern knitters suggest that other reasons for the knitting boom are tied with the turbulence of the economy. People are desperate to save money and the knitting groups provide both a cheap and enjoyable evening out whilst teaching a skill enabling you to make your own clothes, accessories and presents. In such consumer-lead times they also proposed that it is desirable to be able to produce something with that personal touch; “It creates something that everyone can enjoy”, says Kelly Joseph (Manchester S’n’B).

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