The proposal to axe the knitting curriculum in Shetland’s schools is the easy way out to cut the education budget. It also seems short-sighted, given the ongoing struggles of the local industry, the hard work to promote Shetland crafts and tourism and the renewed interest in knitting across the globe.
We receive queries regularly from educators who are keen to establish a knitting curriculum in local authorities across Britain and knitwear and knitting-related products are best-sellers in the Museum and Archives shop. Knitting has recently experienced a huge revival, especially among younger generations, with the advent of new knitting magazines, books, blogs, global networks, social networking sites, knitting cafes, pubs and clubs.
Knitting is also a large part of the burgeoning “textile tourism” industry with international tours, courses and cruises specifically for knitters. Shetland is excellently placed to take advantage of this renewed interest, given its knitting heritage and manufacturing processes across the board (local wool and yarn production, designers and expert knitters).
As part of the regeneration of hand knitting, and to highlight Shetland’s role in the history of knitting, Shetland Museum and Archives is hosting In the Loop 2, a five-day international conference on knitting in September. I invite local educators to attend, to see what all the fuss is about and reconsider how they might balance the books.
Dr Carol Christiansen
Curator of Textiles
Shetland Museum and Archives