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  • ginnykoppenhol

I Can't Knit!

I can’t knit. I’ve tried but failed (several times).

That said, if I found the time to try again, I’m sure my knitting fortunes would turn around by joining Melanie McKay and the amazing community she’s built in and around her fabulous shop Ethel & Em (New Street, Lancaster).

On Saturday, some of these people (all at different stages on their crocheting or knitting journey) gathered for ‘World Knit in Public Day’ and she asked me to come and document it.

I particularly love this first image of Melanie sitting at the centre of the group looking into camera whilst everyone is looking down at their projects, a lovely natural moment.

That said, mostly people were chatting and learning from each other, just hanging out. And if you had an image of a stereotypical knitter in your mind, I hope these images challenge that immediately.

Melanie is definitely a ‘people person’. Even the shop name is proof of that, representing two important people. I love this piece on her website:

“ So, who are Ethel and Em? Ethel was Melanie’s mom, she died when Melanie was a little girl. Ethel rocked crazy bright hair colours long before it was socially acceptable – all while being a card-carrying PhD and communist during the McCarthy era. She was a rebel and she had a clue. Em, is Emily, Melanie’s second friend in England who she met in 1992, and one of the best friends a girl could have ever asked for. Sadly, Emily died of cancer a few years ago. The girl crocheted her way through cancer and I have great memories of binge watching Netflix while she crocheted and I sat there marvelling at her unfolding creations, thinking I’d never be able to do that. These women, along with many others continue to be an inspiration.”

The conversations are one of the most important things about days like these, and I loved seeing peoples expressions as they walked by the shop, smiling at the sight of people making clothes and blankets, not something we see as much as we used to perhaps.

My mum was an excellent knitter, making beautiful cardigans for my children. My mother in law is too. My sister can knit as well, taking up the mantle for our generation. I hope these skills are experiencing a revival amongst young people too. Saturday gave me hope that they are.

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