I get knocked down but I get up again

It’s not often that you get to make a link between the lyrics of an anarchist punk band hit from the 90s, the spirit of hand knitting, and a shop window display.

Perhaps this is a tenuous one but hear me out. There’s this thing that happens with our knitting – especially sweaters, and especially in the rows and rounds at the start of the project – we make mistakes that can only be fixed by ripping the whole lot back.

From joining the round with a twist, to casting on the wrong number of stitches, to not realising it was supposed to start with the contrast colour instead of the main colour, to misunderstanding the increases along the raglans, there are no shortage of opportunities for catastrophic errors that result in having to go back to the beginning again.. and again.. and sometimes even again. It’s a thing about knitting. The row/round construction means that the journey back to sort out a mistake like that, has to go back along the same route – no shortcuts. But however much time, focus and effort gets unravelled as you slide back down the snake, knitters will still pick up their needles to start all over again. And this is all the more remarkable when you realise just how many knitters’ projects go through a process like this. In my experience, it’s about, well.. nearly all of them. In fact I’d go as far as to say that just about every sweater-knitting story I get told involves at least some unravelling at some point.

But just like Chumbawamba’s lyrics in their 1997 Tubthumping hit, we get up again, in the full knowledge that we’ve got the same slow ladder to climb, the same distance to retrace our steps. And yet most days of the week, it’s my privilege to be shown the finished sweaters that knitters have made with the help of supplies from the shop. Whatever the ups and downs of the journeys they took, the sweaters get there in the end. And isn’t that kind of remarkable? On so many levels? This no-shortcuts-back-up-again isn’t just at odds with just about every effort-saving lifestyle message and technological trend in the world right now, it’s also about the indominatable spirit of knitters – or perhaps better to say it’s about knitting helping people discover the spirit they never knew they had.

And witnessing that has been a joy and a highlight of running the shop for the last ten years. So what better souce of inspiration for our latest “Climbing Wool” window display..

celebrating the stitch-by-stitch progress we make along yokes, bodies, sleeves and feet, and the precariousness of our work – how easy it is to fall and end up starting from the beginning again.
We know the only way is back up the way we fell, but we carry on climbing anyway.

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