My Swiss village is unique in several respects. Apart from a very up-market spa, it has literary connections with “Heidi”, historical connections with the crowned heads of Europe who used to come and take the waters, sporting connections with internationally known football teams who come and train at our grand hotels, as well as top-class golf, hiking and, naturally, winter sports facilities. But it also hosts a triennial art event, when the entire village is the setting for hundreds of sculptures, while classical musicians perform in the streets.
This year, there is something more. The local schoolchildren have joined in to brighten up the streets with plenty of colour in an unusual way: knitting.
Knitting is an integral part of the handicrafts curriculum in Swiss schools, as it helps develop motor skills and coordination as well as encouraging creativity. It just has that sad reputation for being boring. Or at least, it did. Thirty years ago, you risked injury to life and limb in Swiss trains as knitting needles were brandished feverishly by passengers making good use of the time spent travelling. Then gradually, instead of socks for soldiers, sweaters for sisters and scarves for brothers, mobile phones and iPods appeared. Knitting was “out”. But suddenly, a few years ago, it made a comeback and now everyone seems to be knitting again.
The idea of joining in the Bad Ragartz festival by knitting and crocheting colourful articles to decorate trees and street furniture really grabbed the local schoolchildren, and they have not only been knitting till their fingers are sore but have also organised a “Knitting Bar” with drinks and snacks, where anyone interested can go and swap patterns and get help with the tricky bits.
Seems to me to be a great way of getting young people involved in their community, and I hope the many international visitors coming to Bad Ragaz this year will appreciate their work and efforts. Tree-huggers certainly should! (Click on the links for a glimpse of the results.)