In a quiet corner of St. Mary’s church in Rye on a Monday morning you will find an intrepid band of creative ladies beavering away with knitting needles and crochet hooks (and even some cross stitching too). They come from all walks of life including one lady who was a professional knitter for The Black Sheep in the Mint, in Rye. Each person has her own style and expertise but they come together united in the desire to create garments which raise money for charity. They are a welcoming group and are happy to pass on advice and skills to those not quite so proficient.
Sandra Lanigan, who has been with the group the longest, told me, “The knitting group began seven years ago initially to support Janet Waddams, who was organising the town to collect clothes to go to Syria. The Brighton-based charity called Samara’s Aid Appeal oversaw collection and distribution. Knitted squares and donations of wool flooded in, some from as far away as the US, as well as blankets and knitted sweaters of all sizes. Sadly, Janet and other founder members have died, and the Syrian government decreed that everything had to go via them, so for the last five years the main focus has been on knitting things that can be sold and donations being given to charities.“
I received a warm welcome when I dropped by to meet them all and to see what projects they were working on. Many things are for sale and the nativity set captured my attention. The detail in every piece was exquisite. There are baskets of church mice in various colours and they have sold over 300 of them so far. There was a lot of interest and a few sales from the visitors to the church whilst I was there. The group gels together and all enjoy the companionship and friendship offered whilst working away on their individual projects.
Knitting has gone through phases of popularity in Britain. During the first world war there was an upsurge of knitting because men, women and children knitted socks, scarves, balaclavas and hats for the troops on the front line. A booklet was produced by the British second world war government, Make Do and Mend, which encouraged knitters to unpick old unwearable woollen items and to re-use the wool for new garments. A blogger known as Yarn Harlot challenged knitters to a project during the 2006 Winter Olympics. Each participant had to cast-on during the opening ceremony and have the project finished by the time the flame was extinguished at the end of the games. 4,000 people rose to the challenge.
Knitting is such fun and it is so wonderful that these lovely ladies and all those who were members in the past have raised so much money for charity and given so much joy to others with their creations. I would love to hear from other knitting groups and other crafters in the Rye area.
Image Credits: Kt bruce , Kt Bruce .