Monday, 16 June 2014

How to knit an aeroplane

When I wrote the title to this post I couldn't help but be reminded of Holly Golightly's line in Breakfast at Tiffany. 'I might be knitting a ranch house...' I may be a keen knitter but I usually confine myself to garments and accessories. However, when English Heritage asked me to run a knitting workshop during World Wide Knit in Public Week to help raise awareness for the Britain from Above digital archive of aerial photography I was intrigued.

The RAF Museum at Colindale has kindly offered to host an exhibition of this important archive which   makes available to everyone thousands of aerial images of Britain taken by the Aerofilms company between 1919 and 1953. 

To provide an extra talking point and to get people involved with spreading the word about the archive, Britain from above decided that a knitted aircraft was just the thing! When I was first told about the project I have to admit that I imagined a full sized plane. I was somewhat relieved to see that our plane is a replica, kindly made by students at the University of Hertfordshire. Even so, our needles needed to get flying! (Sorry...)

With the assistance of lovely volunteers Laura, Yvonne and Maggie, Sandra from English Heritage and I spent a busy and enjoyable day encouraging people to come and sit down and knit a few rows. We also taught lots of children to knit and finger knit. Special thanks to Rachel, a mum who came with her husband and son and happily settled in with us for the day, producing metres and metres of knitting and finger knitting while they spent the day looking at planes. She thinks that the Museum should have a permanent knitting corner - of course we agreed!

It was sometimes a little disconcerting to look up from our crafty corner to see ourselves and our little woolly biplane dwarfed by planes of all shapes and sizes.

The smallest plane in the building has to be this little blue one - but it has a very important role in the project and is one that everyone can join in with.

Britain from above has produced a knitting pattern for this little aircraft and is inviting people to knit one, or more, and using their photography skills and imagination, choose a photo from the archive and attempt to recreate it and send it in to the team at Britain from Above. They will upload the photo into their gallery. This is a chance for the whole family to get involved. The pattern is really simple so even a beginner knitter could make one. After that, everyone can bring to bear their creative and photographic skills to make the most spectacular and imaginative image that they can (without of course risking life and limb..). We talked to families, Scout Troops and Brownie Packs who all took away leaflets and planned to have a go.

Why don't you have a go too? Let me know if you do. I'm planning to knit a plane and take it on my summer travels!


eight by six said...

great photos x

Mairead Hardy said...

What a lovely project! I'm sure you have inspired a whole new generation of knitters!