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Craftageddon: @AlexiDuggins attempts giant knitting

Posted at 5:15 pm, January 26, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment

Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins is at your mercy… So you had him get play with some giant needles:

It’s hard to argue against the benefits of craft. It’s creative, it’s individual and it’s practical. But, erm, is it getting a bit silly?

Take the trend for classes where you colour in pictures of sneakers. Perhaps nothing says ‘I love hobby craft’ like celebrating something glued together by a toddler in a sweatshop. And maybe taking a course in making soap is a great idea. After all, Google says the process is only ‘mildly caustic’. So your new skincare hobby probably won’t leave you looking like you’ve replaced your skin with jam.

Nah, sod it. Crafting has got out of hand. Literally. Because the giant needles that Broadway Market’s eco textile shop, Fabrications, uses on its macro knitting course are so big you have to rest them on the floor. ‘Welcome to my imaginarium,’ says shop owner Barley Massey as we step into a bright, chic basement. In the corner is a pair of knitting needles so long they could skewer you from scalp to bumhole.

‘They’re very creative,’ says Massey. ‘They’re a good way to reuse things that would be harder to knit on small needles.’ We start by cutting up plastic bags and old T-shirts to make our own yarn. Then she demonstrates a French knitting wheel. After winding yarn around pegs for a few minutes, I’ve made a knitwear tube. Given that I’m a novice, I can’t help but feel that this is advanced stuff. It is complex and impressive.

‘I taught some five-year olds to do this a while ago,’ says Barley. We move on to the giant needles. Turns out they’re brilliant: way less fiddly than normal ones. But I do have to balance their ends on my lap. ‘Yeah,’ says Massey. ‘Notice how the balls control the movement.’ Erm, sorry? ‘The ones on the end of the needles.’ Oh, right.

We use my T-shirt yarn to knit a belt with an even larger pair of needles . They’re so big I put the ends on the floor and position them in a sort of knitwear teepee. When I start a new stitch, I have to swing the whole caboodle to the left, then back to the right. There’s a satisfying rhythm, though. And it’s way easier than piddling around with tiny stitches. Plus, in 15 minutes, I’ve made a belt. But is macro knitting craft gone daft? Is it make-do-and mend for  loons? Not at all. After all, our yarn came from an old T-shirt. Which means we stopped something being wasted. And that’s exactly what craft should be all about.

Next macro knitting class Sat Feb 16 2-4.30pm. £30. For info, see fabrications1.co.uk.

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