News & Star - Part of Your Daily Life
11:25 - 25 February 2005

Knitting.....the new rock 'n' roll

KNITTING is no longer the mumsy pastime of the blue-rinse brigade – it is sexy, stylish and taking Cumbria by storm.

Madonna, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Zeta-Jones are all doing it and now women across the county are stitching the latest celebrity craze together.

And instead of making jumpers, gloves and socks, the new generation of twenty-something clickers are creating thongs, Y-fronts and scarves. Sales at wool shops are soaring as producers reap the benefits of an international upsurge in interest 40 years after knitting’s heyday.

Yards of Yarn in Wigton has seen business grow since about October last year.

Owner Sue Pigg said: “It is definitely the in-thing at the moment. The fashionable things that are quick to make, such as scarves, are especially popular. People are knitting something in a night which they can wear the next day. Some people are coming back to it after years of not knitting, but there are a lot of young people too.” This is affecting all ages.”

A proliferation of trendy websites dedicated to the craft – such as www.knitchicks.co.uk – have also encouraged people to pick up their needles.

Ruth Lee, of Gillsland, a lecturer in hand knitting at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts, is exhibiting some of her work at the Craft Council’s Knit Together exhibition in London, from tomorrow, and written has a book on the topic – Beautiful Boas and Trendy Scarves – which is due to be published this year.

She believes new quick-to-knit yarns and internet shopping are some of the factors which have led to people taking up the hobby.

Ruth said: “Knitting is relaxing, tactile and hands-on – an antidote against the stress of modern-day living in the fast lane. The availability of new, inspiring fashion yarns with the wow factor in wonderful colours and textures, appealing across the generations, is encouraging younger knitters to take up their needles.”

In Penrith, Cumbria’s first-ever knitting cafe at the Blue Bell bookshop in Angel Square, has been set up. in the midst of the craze, meeting weekly.

Textiles historian June Hall, of Newbiggin, is spearheading the group and has not been surprised by knitting’s revival.

She said: “When it gets into the popular magazines, young people are going to latch on to it. High-profile followers only help the cause.

“I have always regarded knitting as a useful way of fidgeting because I do not like to be sitting with nothing to do.

“It is a very sociable thing to do. You can knit and chat or when families are sitting together in the evening.”

Life-long enthusiast June is a member of Cumbrian women’s co-operative Wool Clip, who are holding a ‘Wool-fest’ in June, including a 'knit-in' on June 24 in Cockermouth.

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