Streetwise Knitting

Bad Ragaz

Bad Ragaz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.)

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6 thoughts on “Streetwise Knitting

  1. Hello,
    You have touched on something close to my heart – Knitting! In North America it is called Yarn Bombing. Or the often less legal yarn graffiti, the difference being that yarn bombing is often harmless and artistic in intent, yarn graffiti leans towards social commentary. (like covering a tank overnight.) These are totally distinctions I am making, and may not reflect other’s ideas. There was an interesting article in NY about a studio apartment completely covered in crocheted items created by a yarn artist known as Olek, (http://nymag.com/homedesign/spring2011/agata-oleksiak-2011-5/)
    I am so pleased that this trend is capturing a younger generation of knitters! And making the world a bit more colourful in the meantime!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Best,
    – S.

    • As a very poor knitter myself, I was very touched by the photograph in close-up, showing at least one dropped stitch – like the spirit of the Olympics, it’s taking part that matters!

      • I completely agree! Although I love to knit I don’t have the required patience to perfect knitted items. There is always a little ‘oops’, my boyfriends calls them Sarah Spots.
        – S.

  2. I come from a family knitting women. I myself am not a woman OR a knitter which involves me in a riddle, a paradox, but not, I think, an oxymoron. One of my favorite oxymorons comes from the comic Rodney Dangerfield, who said: “We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations. We’re doing everything we can to keep our marriage together”.

    My mother-in-law was an extraordinary knitter. We have several sweaters she made 45 years ago that are as good as new and were used by my grand-daughters now. They’re all moth-eaten by now, but she insists on wearing them whenever she comes over. You’d have to meet my mother-in-law to understand.

    My mother herself was an wonderful knitter. We have a photograph with my daughter at age 10, being taught knitting by my mother while they are sitting on the New York City Subway. This daughter took a brave move by dropping her professional career to open a knitting shoppe in Burbank, California. She lives in Denver. which makes commuting a bit difficult. But she is quite committed. Her husband WANTS her committed, but that’s a story for another time.

    This hand knit weave of fact and fiction, this purl of wisdom, was brought to you by UnwindYarns.com, my daughter’s establishment..

    TD

    • Hi TD – I’ve only just found this comment, accidentally spammed by WordPress, so I’ve opened the tin and let it out! I enjoy all your purls of wisdom and will pass on your daughter’s URL to my daughter at The Little Wash House – not a compulsive washer but a bit OCD when it comes to knitting!

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