Christina writes of further developments in Fremantle:
Thursday 1st November
The Yarns Workshop is a community arts project that has been developed in conjunction with the Fremantle Festival, as well as being a part of the International Arts and Health Conference, which happens at the end of the month. As a part of the conference The Fremantle Doctor Bus is going to be yarn bombed.
The Knitting Hub is a pop-up shop in the center of Freo where anyone can come in and knit or crochet a square to help cover the bus.
This was a personal challenge for me as I am left-handed and no one has ever successfully taught me how to knit. (Not from the lack of trying.) I had a go at both crocheting and knitting. I gave up on the crochet immediately. (I’m assured it’s easy but I couldn’t understand what I was doing.) After a lengthy time of casting on, (and one evening of doing nothing else), and some great instructions from Minaxi, I successfully managed to get going and I have now finished my first ever piece of knitting!!
The knitting hub was a great social experience. It was all ladies, but they were there to catch up with each other, make new friends, find knitting circles to join. It is such an inviting place, with all of its sofas and carpets, that anyone can come in, pick up some crochet or knitting needles and join in. As I was sitting there fighting with my knitting, a lady came to sit next to me. After offering her a cuppa and having a good chit chat about knitting and what each other was producing she started opening up to me about a traumatic experience that had just happened to her. I felt that this was very special as she had come, done a little knitting and then felt comfortable to open up and to talk about her problems to me. Maybe it was the only place she felt she could come to and not be judged, or perhaps she just felt so comfortable that she could speak. Whatever the reason I felt blessed she chose me to speak to. The benefits of a community art project really shone through here for me. This lady had come in just before closing the day before. After finding out about the project, she had taken some knitting home and brought it back in the next day to carry on with. It was as if the knitting hub had given her a sense of purpose and something to do and be a part of. (As she was new to the area and didn’t know anyone.)
This in my opinion is where community arts projects really shine.
Thursday November 8
After a brief conversation with Simone about my experience at the Knitting Hub last week, and the impact I felt this community project is having, she had suggested gathering information on iPads. So today I was sent with iPad in hand to document proceedings – recording conversations, and the range of people who came in; taking photographs of people working together, and showing each other what they were doing. People coming together to help each other learn a new technique. I held conversations with people in the knitting hub, asking why they were there etc.
The Guerrilla Granny from the Fremantle Festival popped into today, which was fabulous and mad! It was wonderful to sit and chat to her and listen to her as she slipped in and out of her character, interacting with everyone who came into the Hub.
I didn’t get much of a chance to document in the afternoon as a family of four children came in and I sat with them and taught them how to make god’s eyes. Their ages ranged from 4-10 years old. Having to demonstrate and explain to them all in a slightly different way each time was a cool experience. It was really fun working with them and encouraging their parents to join in and learn how to make one as well.
Another great aspect of the Knitting Hub is that it brings together different generations. From senior citizens to young adults, children and babies – all able to engage in the project. If it’s making a pom pom, making a god’s eyes, or just playing with a basket of wool or knitting like a pro. The one main downfall of a knitting hub is that it doesn’t seem to engage many men. Men have come into the knitting hub and have expressed interest, however knitting isn’t a process associated with the male. I think if this was to happen again a way to engage men needs to be more carefully considered.
Sunday 11th November – Flash Mob Knitting
Today we did a knitting flash mob. To encourage more people to come and get involved in the knitting hub and to raise wider awareness of the project. It was great fun!
The Fremantle Guerrilla Granny sat on her scooter (gofer) in the middle of the street and we went to sit around her and everyone just started knitting. The response was great. Tons of people stopped to watch and to take photos as well as joining in the knitting or asking for information if they weren’t able to knit there and then. It was a fun afternoon!
This week I have even had a chance to put my new left-handed knitting skills to good use. One Tuesday afternoon, Lex and I popped into a school to do a lunchtime workshop to encourage children to get involved with the knitting hub too.