South African Knitting Rules!
Posted by laurapurlprincess on July 1, 2007
When we put out a call to all worldly knitters to help us with our London Lion Scarf project we did not expect the generous and overwhelming response we received from all corners of the globe. But perhaps the most enthusiastic and plentiful replies to our call came from S&B Johannesburg.
In a wonderful exchange of knitting group experience, group leader Gail e-mailed us to tell us a bit more about how their group started and has grown since its conception.
“Our S’nB group was at long last started in May last year. An ex-pat, called Miriam, from the Netherlands, and I had both been separately trying for a year to get a group started. I’d escaped Corporate Life and wanted to find others to share my hobby. We finally found each other via the International S’nB site in April ’06. Miriam had been involved in starting two S’nB groups before moving to SA. Miriam also found another interested person through the Internet and so we started with three of us.
We now have about 60 people on our database. Our S’nB get-togethers vary from 8 to 20 people at our Wednesday meetings, which we hold at the coffee shop in our LYS, Arthur Bales, in one of Johannesburg’s suburbs. (It’s a family business that’s been going since 1906. They have been fabulously supportive of our efforts to get knitters “out of the closet”). We do have a large yarn manufacturer in South Africa – Saprotex – which produces yarns under the “Elle” brand. Their biggest market is the Northern Hemisphere and so it’s hard to get them focused on promoting knitting on home turf.
Our sessions have ended up being a little complicated because we have people who only want to knit during the week in the morning. Others work, but are only available on certain nights (seldom on the SAME night). We try to do an evening session twice a month and then we do a Saturday morning once a month. The evening sessions are held at Seattle in Exclusive Books – our equivalent of Starbucks in a Borders Bookshop – at an up-market Mall in another suburb, which has movie theatres and several restaurants in it. On Saturdays we head back to our LYS which incidentally holds the agency for importing both Rowan Yarns and fabrics in to the country.
Part of the problem in arranging sessions is that we don’t have a convenient system of public transport. Several people travel ±40km to come to the sessions. One person, who, like you, is in remission, drives 150 km to come to a monthly knit. Georgia then spends the night at her daughter’s before heading home again. We look forward to the time when other groups start up so that people don’t travel so far.”
We wrote straight back to compare the similarities and differences between our two groups. It truly was an enlightening experience to know that people so far away were also meeting up for their regular dose of knitting solidarity – in this way we all shared a common bond.
When we received a huge package through the door baring the post markings of a South African delivery we instantly knew that Gail had fulfilled her promise to contribute to the scarf as much as S&B Johannesburg possibly could.
When we broke into the booty we found beautifully knitted sections including ones emblazened with the South African flag and colours, one fluffy pom-pom creation and the most amazing beaded piece.
These made our scarf a lot longer and colourful – so a huge thank you to Gail and S&B Johannesburg for all your hard work and help.