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Knitting a Better World

Knitting a Better World

A Letter From Isabel

Knitting ‘is the simplest and most ordinary of activities, yet somehow it mysteriously contains within itself the potential for expanding our conscious awareness‘ Ilene Cooper in Booklist describing the collected essays of Susan G Lydon, in her book, The Knitting Sutra, craft as a spiritual practice.

Knitting a Better World

The Prince’s Foundation is encouraging knitters and knitting novices from around the world to contribute to a colourful art installation set to be unveiled at its headquarters ofDumfries House estate in Ayrshire later this year.

The installation will take the form of a patchwork mosaic, made up of thousands of hand-knitted squares which will be draped over the estate’s historic Adam Bridge, creating a kaleidoscope of colour and textile which is joyous to observe and symbolises the personalities of the individuals from all over the world who have contributed it construction. The bridge dates back to1760 and was initially designed by John Adam to give travellers an early sight of Dumfries House on their approach. Once the installation is dismantled, the patchwork will be cut into smaller blankets and distributed to charities in need.

The Prince’s Foundation are appealing for beginners and experienced knitters alike to take up their needles to knit 20cm squares to be included in the patchwork mosaic, urging all valued contributors to — where possible — get creative in a sustainable way by using up ends of yarn or unravelling unworn knitted garments. The end goal is to receive thousands of squares by June 2021, and for those who have the capacity, submissions of pre-joined squares are greatly appreciated.

The installation will celebrate knitting as a traditional craft form, as well as the associated benefits to the mind and body that practising the skill can bring. Knitting is known to have multiple benefits such as reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing a sense of usefulness and inclusion.

“It has reawakened my rusty knitting skills and is really good for relaxation and positive mental health, especially in the wonderful setting of Dumfries House”, says Christine Burns, 69, a retired medical practice receptionist who signed up, with her daughter Sam, for regular classes a year ago. “People there were of all standards,” explains Christine, from Kilmarnock. “One lady learned to knit there and others were very capable and could show us how to do things. It was great, and there was such a nice atmosphere and a feeling we were getting involved in something useful and pleasurable. My daughter and I can’t wait to go back. We get to spend time together, doing something we enjoy, and be in an oasis of peace away from any hassle or worries.”

It also offers a sense of pride to think that, by being part of this project, contributors are doing their bit to help rebuild the foundations of a hand-craft industry that had its roots in the west of Scotland to revive and revitalise something beautiful, practical and valuable.

This project forms part of a wider collaboration between The Prince’s Foundation andThe Joseph Ettedgui Charitable Foundation which aims to recreate communities of hand-knitters in the local area with an interest in turning their hobby into a viable business proposition. The objective of the Knitwise initiative, which began early last year, is to train and develop a small team of locally based hand-knitters to a high standard to help future-proof the industry and create much needed employment and income in a deprived area of Scotland, at very low outlay and with great flexibility in working environments and practise.

Knitwise, the community knitting programme based atDumfries House, isn’t your average craft class. It may encourage lapsed knitters, as well as those new to the skill, to pick up a pair of needles and blossom under the guidance of expert tutors, but the social interaction and mental health benefits it offers are, for many participants, more important.

ThePrince’s Foundation provides holistic solutions to challenges facing the world today. It champions a sustainable approach to how we live our lives and build our communities, runs a diverse programme of education and training for all ages and backgrounds, and regenerates and cares for places where communities thrive and that visitors enjoy, The charity works nationally and internationally but at the heart of the organisation is the heritage-led regeneration of the Dumfries House estate and its wider community, where its principles and philosophies are explored and put into practice.

Ashleigh Douglas,Future Textiles manager for The Prince’s Foundation, said: “Over the last few months, we have received a steady stream of contributions for the installation sent to Dumfries House from knitters all over theUnited Kingdom and the world including Portugal, Belgium, United States andTasmania. We appreciate every single donation and will take the time to write and thank every one of our knitters, who have formed part of this wider community.”

There’s still time for keen knitters to submit their mini masterpieces towards the art installation.

Contributions should contain the name and hometown of the knitter and can be posted to “Knitwise”, Dumfries House, Cumnock, KA18 2NJ.

Squares should be a minimum of 20cms x 20cms and knitted-together blankets of squares should measure no more than 120cms x 150cms.

Deadline for submissions is June 30, 2021.

To help inspire creativity, The Prince’s Foundation has created an easy-to-follow video tutorial, which is suitable for beginners and can be found on the Dumfries House social media channels (link below).

The easy-to-follow knitting tutorial can be found via the following links: