Every month we spotlight one of our fabulous members! This month we have been getting to know more about Alison from Woolaston! See our previous blog post for a written interview with Alison. Alison runs Woolaston from her home in Kirkintiloch near Glasgow. You can find out more about Woolaston on her Knitting For All teacher page and on her own website. We are delighted to share this blog post written by Alison about her experience and passion for working with community groups. This is an area she is very passionate about and you can read about her work with DeafBlind Scotland specifically here.
Knitting with Community Groups. By Alison McKie
In addition to knitting items for sale, running KidsKnit classes, teaching knitting, running workshops and volunteering with the DeafBlind, another aspect of the work of Woolaston I am particularly passionate is facilitating community groups. I originally became involved in this a few years ago by replying to an advert placed by a community worker stating that she had secured funding for a local knitting group and was looking for someone to run it. This contact then led to another - a group which was being required to move online during lockdown, and was struggling to see how this could work. Then post-lockdown to a weekly gathering of fledgling knitters.
“Combating loneliness” and “enhancing self esteem” are often the taglines community workers use in their funding applications and this is exactly what these groups do. Making knitting accessible to those for whom a paid leisure activity is an unaffordable luxury is a very rewarding experience.
Knitters are hugely appreciative of one another’s work. I have yet to come across a knitter who looks at anyone else’s work and says “oh, look there’s a mistake”! Instead they genuinely admire the piece, appreciative of how much effort and time has been invested in its production. Ideas are shared, borrowed, and copied. The satisfaction one knitter felt at completing her first ever jumper last week, was enjoyed by all at the group; as were her proud tales of the incredulity of her friends and family that she “really knitted that herself” when she returned this week. She is now actively looking for wool to start her second jumper! All in all, very much an enhancing of self esteem.
Knitting in a group is such a sociable activity, allowing much time for chatting, and drinking tea or coffee, while working away on project. Sometimes it can be easier for folks to chat at a group like this than in another setting, as working on, and talking about, a project can be a distraction from a hesitation to speak. A desire to find out what others are knitting, discussing the colour being used, or sharing about a similar project, can open up a discussion topic for those normally reluctant to speak up. And for those who prefer to keep quiet, there is always the option of knitting and listening to what everyone else is saying. Either way, a knitting group can be a valuable opportunity for someone to be out of the house, sharing in an activity with other people in the community. And when we know that loneliness can be a very real problem for so many people, a knitting group can be one of the ways this can be addressed.
“Enhancing self esteem” and “combating loneliness” can appear to be no more than just “buzz words” for what might once have been known as a “knitting bee”, but, in fact it is exactly what these groups achieve, something I consider it a privilege to be involved in and something in which I would relish more opportunities to be involved.