Reading windows, knitting stories

A baby sleeps under a corriedale moon as he dreams of Jumperweight sheep jumping over a knitting needle stile.. A yellow icord Circle Line frames a London Underground map of knitted tubes.. Knitting needle rain pours down over 2 bunnies sheltering under an umbrella swift… A yak-merino mouse potters about its diminutive cardboard box house.. 2 sweaters break all the rules and have a hug under a shower of knitted blooms…

The unlikely comings and goings of the woolshop window have been interrupting people’s thoughts as they stroll down Lower Clapton Road for the best part of 7 years now. I watch from inside the shop as they stop and stare in and point out to each other, reading the window like a picture-book with no words, and I wait for the smiles which appear like a kind of collusion with the woolly daydream behind the glass.

Now for a change, we have a window that tells its story in actual words, but as is the way with these woolly windows there’s more to the story than just the words…

This window was made by dozens of nearby and faraway knitters last year over the locked down months, overwhelmed by the effort they could see being made and carried by NHS workers. They sent in hand knitted rectangles with their letters and their love. We laid them all out on the floor and divided them into 13 separate bundles, which we posted and cycled around to knitty sewer-togetherers who made them into columns, and returned them to Barley who sewed all of them together into a single mighty banner which now hangs from Barley’s extraordinarily enormous and strong knitting needles. 

The passers by look and see the message knitted into the banner. They don’t know about the dozens of knitters or the sewer-togetherers or Barley’s beautiful finishing, but I think they almost do. I see them  look again and see a knitted version of the clapping, saucepan banging, ululating and cheering that we used to do on our doorsteps on Thursday evenings. The thoughts, fears, losses and rages of the knitters who made them are all there in the stitches of the rectangles that carry the letters that hold the message from us all that says thank you and I think the passers by see that too. I hope that one day soon the nurses and cleaners and junior doctors and receptionists and consultants and radiographers and porters and cooks and sisters and midwives will see it too, as the banner moves onto its final home at the hospital.


Leave a Reply