Wool Week UK: A Guest Post

Today’s post is written by Allison Thistlewood, knitter and Torontonian relocated to London. Alison threw herself into the UK knitting scene, and was lucky enough to be involved in the UK Wool Week Festivities held this past October.

Kate and Knitty were kind enough to help spread the word about Wool Week (and a special yarn bombing project) – a weeklong series of events started by the Campaign for Wool in the UK and I’m happy to report back on how it all came together.

Every year sees Wool Week try something different to capture people’s attention (such as last year’s giant ball of wool and knitting needles affixed to the front of high-end department store Harvey Nichols) and this year’s Wool Week was no exception. This year John Lewis (another major department store here in the UK) donated one of the windows from their flagship store on Oxford Street in London to be dedicated to the Campaign. It was to be set up as a sparse, white living room, and slowly gain more colour as the space was yarn bombed over the course of the week.

The yarn-bombed window, getting woolier...
The yarn-bombed window, getting woolier…

Yarn bombing is one of those crazy things that’s really organic and fluid – you can’t plan for it and you can’t know what you’re going to get. Even with a picture in my mind’s eye of how the space might look, it was completely different and made even better by the creativity and talent that came together to take over the space.

The almost 130 yarn bomb bits collected from knitters and crocheters who responded to the call through Knitty and various friends’ blogs were woven into the larger installation of the window as it slowly evolved over the course of the week. Most bits were from the UK but two lovely cabled pieces came all the way from the States, and a friend from Canada coming over for a visit brought more from Toronto in her suitcase. One woman even went so far as to hunt up bits of gauge swatches she’d knit over the years and sent me a huge bundle, which I loved seeing turned into bits of book covers and “clothing” for the old patterns used as pictures on the living room wall of the display.

UK model Daisy Lowe in the wooly window
UK model Daisy Lowe in the wooly window

Various UK celebrities and crafters also knit and crocheted in the window during store hours that week – also contributing to the evolution and leaving it a little more colourful than when they arrived. One woman even crocheted a whole slipcover for the couch whilst in the window for a couple of days! And tastefully at one end of the window was a calendar of the week’s events happening in store, to let passersby know how they could participate in Wool Week.

I was lucky enough to take two classes during Wool Week, one with Rowan and one with designer Erika Knight – whose love of colour and enthusiasm was infectious – and from chatting with organisers, all of the classes sold out and the drop-in knitting circle was full every day. Conversations overheard ranged from experienced knitters helping newbies, to lapsed knitters slowly coaxing the skill back into their hands, to the delight of new knitters creating something where before there was only string.

Knitting in the women's wear department, very comfy!
Knitting in the women’s wear department, very comfy!

Wool Week may be only a week to some, but to the rest of us it’s a lifestyle, and one I’m happy to share with so many. A big thank you to everyone who contributed and helped spread the word!


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