say hello to our star knitters
Meet the people behind some of our greatest big knit hats.
Ali and Marion
“We absolutely love knitting.”
Retired teachers Ali and Marion knit together in Gosport, and between them they’ve contributed a whopping 2,500 hats for The Big Knit over the years. “I’m not an expert; I never knit tension squares,” admits Ali, and Marion adds that they make up the patterns as they go along. The ladies are members of the Priddy Purlers knitting group. When not knitting hats, you’ll find Marion attending music festivals with her husband in their motorhome, and Ali whipping up another sweater for her husband, ‘Jumper Joe.’
“When you knit these little hats you become a part of a big community – it’s so friendly and welcoming.”
Meet Bella from Dublin. She’s been knitting hats for The Big Knit for five years now, and she’s notched up an incredible 600 hats (and counting). Bella says knitting’s a great way to get to know people: she started as a youngster and even set up a knitting society at her college.
“It’s a huge community effort. Everyone gets involved.”
Gemma runs a shop in Oswestry, which has been a collection point for Big Knit hats for the last three years. She hosts a knit-along in her shop to get things started, and each year the challenge is to beat the previous year’s total — they’ve gone from 827 hats in 2011 to a whopping 2,800 in 2013. The hats come in from all over: from knitting groups, from a lady in a nursing home, and last year from a seven year old boy, who contributed his first ever bit of knitting. Gemma’s recruited all her friends and family to help; her mum’s in charge of pompoms for hats that arrive without them.
“The Big Knit is a way to give back to the community, help others and enjoy ourselves along the way.”
Hina is the director of Bluebird Care Lambeth. She introduced her team to the Big Knit last year, and she’s even managed to get her 10 year old son into knitting. Hina learned her skills from her mum, who always made her sweaters — “with zig-zag patterns and bobbles all over, my friends were always well jel”, she claims — and this year she’s started early, recruiting all of her staff to create 100 little hats.
“I’m obsessed. I knit before work in the morning, in my lunch break and in the evenings. I’m rarely without my needles.”
Jo knitted a lot when she was younger, but had got out of the habit. She’d do “an occasional baby jacket, but nothing really” — until she found out about The Big Knit through Facebook in 2011. Since then, there’s been no stopping her. She's made close friends through knitting the little hats, and shares her knitting patterns with friends online. Her favourite hat pattern? Ollie the Octopus. “I immediately fell in love with him.”
“I like the Big Knit because it provides an income for Age UK Bromley & Greenwich.”
Marjorie’s been knitting for 75 years. She attends local knitting groups and always has her knitting with her, so she can whip up a little hat on the bus on the way to the shops. She’s knitted hundreds of hats over the years, including snowmen, cups-of-tea and owls, as well as regular hats embellished with pompoms, bells and beads. These days Marjorie goes into a school with her local Age UK and teaches children to knit, something she loves to do.
“The Big Knit is an idea that makes you smile. How can you not smile at little hats on bottles?”
Sara was given her first set of knitting needles for her 18th birthday, and still uses them now. She set up a knitting group at work five years ago to contribute hats for The Big Knit, and over the years it’s been a phenomenal success, knitting an incredible 25,000 hats. Sara's hat creations have included a rainbow, a courgette flower and even a VW camper van (we're seriously impressed). When not knitting hats, Sara can be found tending to her growing menagerie of animals.
When you see Sara on one of our smoothie cartons, you’ll notice we’ve said she met David Cameron in person to receive an award. Thing is, we got a little over-excited. She did receive this very impressive award, but it actually came in the post, not from the Prime Minister’s hand. Very sorry for the mistake Sara, we hope you’ll still knit us some of your excellent little hats.
“I love knitting with the Age Action knitting group. I’ve knitted hundreds of hats.”
Curiosity is a good thing. It was curiosity that led Winnie, a mum of 7 from Churchtown in Dublin, to ask what the group of people in her local Age Action shop were doing. Turns out they were knitting little hats for the Big Knit; Winnie joined in, and before long she was a regular. Three years on, Winnie still turns up every week for “a good natter” with her friends. “We really understand each other and give each other good tips, not only on knitting. You wouldn’t want to hear some of the stuff we talk about…”