Time to update about the most fun you can have legally with knitting needles and wool on a train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh and back. I’m talking of course about the “Clicketty Click on the Clacketty Clack” Wool Train which was organised by The Campaign for Wool to celebrate Wool Week this year.
27 knitters drawn from across the spectrum of the wool community got together to knit Marie Wallin’s fabulous Union Flag from Rowan’s British wool. She was there of course along with a team from Rowan, another from the Royal College of Art, Nottingham Trent University, the various Knit magazines and then groups of Artisan knitters including the fabulous Ruth and Belinda!
This was an eclectic mix. Some of us knew a few of us but none of us knew all of us – to paraphrase an American who probably never knitted a stitch – but, with a real goal and sense of purpose, we all set to and began knitting furiously.
We each had 10 oblong shapes to finish of about 7 x 10 cms in a variety of stitches, gauges and natural colours and for those like me who were slow and hampered by a sheep-bitten finger, it was daunting!
East Coast mainline trains staff, who had treated us to 1st Class Lounge facilities at Kings Cross, realised the needs of knitters instantly and kept us well supplied with tea, coffee and chocolate cake until we got to Doncaster when, maybe sensing we were flagging, brought out the gin and tonic! Instant revival and we were off again!!
The journey passed so fast and what struck me was how wool just brough all of us together. We worked with Art students, designers, bloggers, ordinary knitters in a common love for and use of our combined skills. It was really quite moving at times to see the young students heads next to the older, but not necessarily wiser ones of “good plain knitters” – both of course learning all the time from each other.
At York we were joined by Wool Board staff to talk to us about the Campaign For Wool and they brought Celia along for light relief! She journeyed all the way to Edinburgh for a night on the town with some Scotch Blackface friends and returned next day to York with us a little the worse for wear! Here she is at Edinburgh dressed for her night out with the girls!
And here is the WIP by the time we got to Edinburgh!
I didn’t manage to take a pic of the final finished flag when we got back to Kings Cross because of the scrum but you can see just how amazing it was ,even only at the half way stage.
The return journey the next day was spent sewing all the remaining strips of squares together and then assembling the remaining pieces. This photo just makes the point. 5 people sitting rond a table for 4, working quietly, skillfully and cleverly together with hands going under and over yet never getting in the way. It was a real tribute to our skills as an Artisan community.
It was of course, also an amazing amount of fun! We really enjoyed it and while we had a project to finish and were time-pressured, there was never any doubt, looking round that laughter filled carriage, that we would do it. I was immensely proud when we stood up at Kings Cross with the finished flag and unfurled it – to the obvious puzzlement of rush hour commuters ! It was an amazing achievement celebrating yet another characteristic of wool – its ability to bring people together.
So, if you see the flag at shows etc over the next year, give a though to those on the train who knitted it and remember the pride and quiet satisfaction it gave us all. That wool flag is SO much greater than the sum of all its many parts.