Right now, the Opening Reception for Shetland Wool Week 2016 is taking place. From previous experiences of the opening of Shetland Wool Week, I am sure this is a very jolly gathering with many wondrous knitters, an astounding collection of Crofthoose Hats, traditional Shetland music, and an inspiring address on the value and specialness of Shetland Wool. It is always a great night out and I’m sending a massive woolly hug to all my comrades there!
This time last year, at the Shetland Wool Week Opening Ceremony, I shared an idea that had been rolling around in my head for a long time: Knitting Punditry. Today I want to tell you about Knitting Punditry so that if you ever find yourself knitting alone, you can imagine the cheers and company of other knitters, and perhaps even visualise a jolly pundit commenting on your mad knitting skillz, (especially if you ever find yourself doubting them).
So, what is Knitting Punditry?
Good question. I feel that knitting is incredibly important, but that it does not receive the same level of blanket media coverage as, say, for example, Football, and I am interested in exploring how this might be changed or challenged.
Now, I will not knock Football here.
But I will say that it would be good if, as well as all the Football on the television, there could be some equivalent knitting-related programming. I’m not talking about some patronising, sad little low-budget craft special every now and then: I mean SKY KNITTING as the serious knitterly equivalent to SKY SPORT. I’m talking about stadiums filled with thousands of knitters. Pundits commenting on the nuance of each knitters’ work. Endless re-runs and multiple camera angles to showcase the technical accomplishments and techniques of knitters. Opportunities for knitters to cheer on heroes and roar for joy when faced with knitterly excellence; that kind of thing… to me, that is Knitting Punditry. It is about pundits, but it’s also about love and dedication and commitment and enthusiasm; the pundits in Football are part of an infrastructure of awe and unchecked collective appreciation… I like the idea of a similar cultural framework for knitting and I say, it’s 2016, why not.
For quite a while I had been wanting to make sound pieces that demonstrate the amazing world where this dream is real; I asked my magnificent pal Louise Scollay if she would help me and in a flurry of texts, we wrote a sketch drawn from our collective knowledge of football and knitting. We borrowed ideas from the esteemed pundits of football, and we egged each other on.
However, what gives a live Football match its magical atmosphere is the sense of a present and engaged crowd urging the players onwards. I can think of no crowd more able to supply the sounds of a rapt knitterly audience than the one assembled for Shetland Wool Week, and so last year, to bring Knitting Punditry to life, I recorded this wondrous gathering.
A year ago today myself and Louise got up on stage in front of that audience and presented our vision for SKY KNITTING. We set our digital recorders up and then painted some scenarios involving a knitting foul; a knitting goal; a knitting victory etc.
The audience were AMAZING!!! We left with an incredible little set of sounds created by a mass of enthusiastic and generous knitters; oohs and aahs and cheers and whoops and the occasional low boo (when visualising a terrible knitting foul being committed). We later re-recorded our script to make it much clearer, and then we mixed the magnificent sounds generated by the audience together with our words. A dodgy accordion rendition of the theme for “Match of The Day” and my recording of Hazel Tindall knitting with a belt at fiendish speed brought our Knitting Punditry mix to its completion. I feel this is a truly collective and collaborative sonic enterprise and I really hope that when you listen to it, you can hear all the fun of its creation.
I also hope you agree that everyone who is binding off a second sock should have this much cheering and accordion music.
All the sounds were recorded in Shetland and if you were whooping and clapping and whistling and shouting at the opening ceremony for Shetland Wool Week 2015, then YOU are here in the mix somewhere.
Thank you to everyone who helped bring Knitting Punditry to life; I have the feeling that Mucker & Comrade have only just begun…
…and thank you to the lovely Jeni Reid for taking these wondrous photos, which are used here with kind permission.
YOURS IN KNITTING PUNDITRY,