“Makk an Yarn”, to any Shetland lass, is second nature. For centuries on end, Shetland women have gathered by the fire and knitted socks, shawls, gansies (jumpers), toories (woolly hats) to whomever they wanted to trade in with for bread or other primal commodities, since they had no money in their pockets (well, until very recently, say the 1970s) … Some even spent their entire time caastin (knitting) whilst walking to and back from the paet bank (peat/turf hill) with kishies (baskets specially designed to carry peat/turf) on their backs. Multi-tasking is not a modern thing at all!
Now, when the National Theatre for Scotland (NTS) approached Creative Scotland and Shetland Arts for a very special project, Ignition, friend and playwright Jacqui Clark accepted a creative challenge: that of coming up with, literally an army of knitters to come together and produce 50-stitch squares in order to knit a car (cosy), since Ignition explores our relationship with the car. Shetland could not be rivalled, since it is the home of the Sullom Voe terminal – or a nordic version of Dallas (by the sea!) ever since the very first gash of oil turned the archipelago on its head economically.
So Jacqui called in a few knitters and “Makk an Yarn” (“knit and chat”) emerged from her imagination earlier on this autumn, with sessions at The Shetland Library (first floor) and Shetland Arts’ Mareel throughout the dark season.
“Can du caast?” (“Can you knit?) asks Jacqui when you come around. My humble answer made Jacqui smile, “yes, wi wirds an metaphors,” I mumbled. Jacqui invited a poet into this amazing project. So we gathered and sat with needles & wool, supplied from local brokers & suppliers, Jamieson & Smith. And what a wonderful time we’ve had! Jacqui ensured cake and other fancies would garnish our evenings! Whether at The Shetland Library or Mareel, we have been fed with a myriad of delicacies – food (largely cake, tea/coffee), stories, verse and laughters!
..And if you think this is reserve to ladies, well, think again! Jacqui’s welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, as knitters unite for the project!
Jacqui is ambitious: not only will the car be knitted, but a small (glove compatment-size) book with thematic recorded stories about our relationship with such motor should be produced later on in 2013. Her makk and yarn will stitch itself onto a much bigger celebration of music and dance next March.
SO, WATCH THIS SPACE!