Addicted to Wool
As knitting grows in popularity around the world, the NSW Knitters’ Guild has not dropped a stitch in teaching new techniques and innovations.
Knitting and crochet are far from moribund crafts. New techniques and ways of creating fabrics are being invented constantly by designers around the world, and the NSW Knitters’ Guild is at the forefront of these developments. The Guild is a not-for-profit organisation promoting and encouraging the skills of knitting and crochet amongst its members and the wider community. Established more than 30 years ago, the Guild provides the opportunity for members to learn both traditional and modern techniques, and to keep up with innovations in material and design in Australia and internationally.
Cynthia Mulholland, a Singleton resident, has been the President of the Guild for the last three years and was on the executive for three years prior to that. “Our 800 plus members, in 26 groups, have the opportunity to attend local group meetings, workshops, and classes. They can also take part in the many social and educational opportunities we offer,” says Cynthia. “We have responded to this international surge in skill development by offering skills-based workshops at least monthly, in locations around the state. These are taught by local experts and are tightly focused on specific techniques. Members have priority in booking for these quality learning experiences,” she adds. The Guild is presently re-developing its suite of certificates to increase knowledge and skill within the community. The new introductory certificate will be available soon and will be followed by a series of modules for specific skills in both traditional and modern techniques. These modules will be free to download with a small fee for the assessment and certification process.
“We are also keeping the links to our history, and the history of craft in NSW alive through the work of our Archives Committee,” says Cynthia. “They aim to preserve and exhibit the examples of knitting and crochet and patterns from the past that have been amassed since our founding. These will be available for teaching and exhibition and will form a link between the times when knitting and crochet were largely hidden and domestic crafts, and the much more open and public practice of today,” says Cynthia.
Knitted and crocheted garments are in high demand and there are many charities in Australia who would be very happy to receive them. “Some of our Guild groups ‘adopt’ a charity and send garments all year round, while others knit for a particular charity when they see a specific need arising. The Guild also gratefully accepts donated yarn and you can be assured that it’s going to be put to good use providing items for a very wide range of charities,” Cynthia says. Knitting’s popularity is clearly growing.
Ravelry, an online community and social networking site for knitters founded in May 2007, now connects knitting and crochet enthusiasts around the world. Initially available by invitation only, it had over 6.21 million registered users by 2016. FibreFest 2018 in Singleton was a popular local event, with more than 1,300 visitors on the Sunday alone. It also saw the advent of the FibreFest shawl challenge. The shawl design had been commissioned by the Guild, and knitters were encouraged to show off their creativity by applying different techniques and colour combinations to the base pattern. The pattern is available through the Guild’s website.
In 2019 a new concept is being launched, with an inaugural bi-annual conference to be held from 12 – 14 July at City Hall in Newcastle. It promises to be an action-packed few days with workshops covering many diverse topics, such as colour work theory, modifying patterns, shadow and brioche knitting, and informative talks on different subjects, including the process of design. International speaker Bristol Ivy, a knitting designer and teacher from Maine in the USA, will give talks and run workshops after the conference. Bristol’s work focuses on the intersection of innovative design and classic tailoring, and her classes cover creativity, technique and understanding the nuts and bolts of knitting. She is well known in the knitting universe and will be signing her book Knitting Outside the Box, which is considered essential reading for the adventurous knitter. Bristol has 198 designs on Ravelry and has more than 33,000 followers on Instagram.
Further information is available at https://www.knittersguildnsw.org.au/
Read more in issue 94 of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine
Story by Maxine Throll, photography courtesy of NSW Knitter’s Guild