They’re holding a short exhibition called ‘words and stitches’ – “a weekend of hand knitted delights & to explore the act of knitting” displaying such things as this cushion:
Not being particularly interested in knitting, I’d instead turned up for the ‘Words and stitches: creative writing workshop’ – “a free 90 minute creative writing workshop using knitting and fibre for our inspiration”. The ‘free’ bit sounded good and I was sure that if I couldn’t be inspired to write anything then that would be a good sign that I should try something else.
First exercise (after free coffee and cake) was 5 minutes of continuous writing. Not something I’d ever tried before – just putting open to paper without stopping, without too much thought on what you are trying to write, as a way of loosening up. The workshop leader started us off with “I tugged at the loose thread and…” Soon I had an A4 page of untidy sci-fi drivel and an aching hand that hadn’t written so much in a loooong time.
Next was writing using a restricted vocabulary – each of us has a photocopy from a novel and could only use the words on the pages to describe a woollen item chosen from a pile of such objects. Appropriately, I had “Alice in Wonderland” and some weird thing to work with. I didn’t manage too much output as it took a while to scan the text for usable fragments but the end result wasn’t too bad.
“What can all that green stuff be?” I thought. There is nothing graceful and I am more and more puzzled. I shook it a good deal rapidly but could not see its meaning. Leaves must be an idea, or hedges.
Third exercise was to write something from a particular perspective. Another woollen item and a randomly selected view – in this case a ‘knitwear model’ (could have been ‘sheep’ which may have been more of a challenge).
Colin was in a hurry. The photographer was waiting but had nothing to shoot and I had nothing to be shot in. The ball of rust was getting smaller and smaller as Gavin rushed to replace the cardigan, the machine whizzing from side to side. Soon it would have disappeared and I could get to work and, more importantly, get paid. I felt myself becoming annoyed with the wool even though it should be Colin that I’m glaring at. “Come on, faster,” I thought, “but don’t get knotted again.” Red/brown lines flew above the knitting machine and I gave up trying to follow them. Such a boring colour. It’s spring outside and I wanted to wear something bright and light but it’s the autumn catalogue we’re shooting for. If we ever start. I need something to take my mind off the clock. “Coffee?” The photographer agreed and followed me out to the little kitchen attached to the slightly larger studio. “Done,” called out Colin and we strolled back to the machine, steaming cups in hand. The ball was barely the size of an egg now. Almost gone.
Finally we had a chance to rework what we had already written or try again so I opted for the lucky dip. Quite a dark result. Luckily the other person reading out their effort described an amazingly vibrant and active ‘yarn shop’ which ended the day on a much more positive note.
That’s not going to work. The colours clash terribly. I desire to create beauty. How can I breathe life into the wool with red and orange? Give me creams and greys, ochres and a pompom of charcoal. I don’t want boisterous shades – I demand calm solemnity. I am here to lend peace to the world through my being. I dread that my work will be used by the tribes on the terraces, shouting fiercely at others in woollen headwear just as bizarrely coloured. Why so much red or bright blue? Or red and blue! It pains me to be so misused. If only I could find a way to unravel my design, to remove myself. If I cannot make the world a better place, maybe I should not be in it.
For a first creative writing workshop, I thought it went really well and most of us seemed to enjoy the experience. Thanks to Jelly for putting the event on.