You think knitting in Spain is only for abuelas with no better way to spend their time? Well, so did the madrileñas until a couple of years ago, when the city experienced a renaissance in the DIY department.
It’s a way to tell the world that wool can easily be used to make beautiful items that have a stronger connection to imagination rather than consuming.
A new generation of knitters has hit town and can be found knitting on the Metro, meeting at local cafés for a cuppa yarn and even yarn bombing the Calle Serrano in Madrid’s exclusive Salamanca area.
Traditional craft classes were mandatory for women during the Franco era, but ever since the shift to democracy some 40 years ago, knitting didn’t rank high on the top 5 of pastime activities. Now many young women are learning how to knit for the first time and craft shops offering weekly classes for the new Martha Stewarts of Spain can be found almost anywhere around the city.
But what’s the fuss about? Why spend time, money and energy on producing your own knitwear, when stores are booming with sweaters to provide you with a cheap yarn fix?
“Because of the recycling movement and the current state we’re in, we are forced to change our way of thinking a bit,” says Sandra, a dedicated knitter who writes about her world as seen through knitted stitches on El Punto Bobo de Chantal. “You don’t attend knit gatherings just to knit a scarf. You also do it to forget whatever worries you have at your job or at home and meet new people at the same time.”
The social aspect of knit gatherings certainly plays a large part in the yarn boom. From weekly classes at stores with a handful of students to organized street events with over 150 participants, knitting is a great way to meet new people.
“We started out as a group of 9 and in less than one month we were 100. Now we are more than 300 people worldwide,” says Clara Montagut of the Madrid-based international knitters network Lana Connection.She and her fellow knitters meet up regularly to organize knit happenings. Their most recent event included covering the exclusive shopping area around Calle Serrano in knitted and crocheted oversized figures that had taken them almost half a year to produce for Semana de La Lana. “It’s a way to tell the world that wool can easily be used to make beautiful items that have a stronger connection to imagination rather than consuming,” says Clara of the stark contrast between the high class boutiques in Serrano and the yarn installations.
But what engages the group of more than 150 volunteer knitters to spend almost six months preparing an event like this? “I think the main drive behind this comes from the urge to unite and produce. We are constantly chasing after the clock in this busy world and in recession times it has been the perfect motivation for meeting up with others to create something beautiful,” Clara explains.
And knitters do seem to make friends across parameters like age and profession, and general hierarchies are easily broken down when yarn is the common denominator. Even language barriers seem to be only a minor detail when the stitches are in focus.
Knitting also helps you relax: Once the needles are in your hands they require your full attention, leaving no space for stressful thoughts or worries. When you’re knitting, you’re knitting. And that’s it. When you understand the difference between a knit and a purl stitch and you can “spell” your way through a knit pattern, a new world of endless possibilities opens up.
Care to give knitting a go in Madrid? Here are some links that will help you start up.
Knit classes in Madrid in English:
I am an anthropologist turned music producer turned full time knit and craft nerd, for business and pleasure. I love exploring cities in quirky manners and hope to guide you through hidden treasures and adventurous paths in Madrid.