Scotland’s craft community
Prefer your Scottish style a little more hands on? Kirstin Innes speaks to the brave souls working at the coal face of Scotland’s craft community
Click, click, click. For the past few years, the needles of crafters up and down the country have been spinning a revolution. A very quiet, civilised revolution, granted. Productive. With minimal bloodshed, and lovely accessories.
Okay, that might be taking it a little bit far. Increasingly, though, Scotland’s 20- and 30-somethings are taking knitting, crocheting, felting and home-made handbag production much more seriously than a hobby.
Katharine Walker, who runs crafty Glasgow West End institution K1 Yarns, a tiny, soothing ‘knitting boutique’ crammed with colour, texture and wool, worked in the international pharmaceutical industry for years. For her, knitting was the catalyst to a different life. ‘I used to say: “One of these days I’m just going to give it all up and open a knitting shop.” So I did!’
Walker has recently expanded her empire eastwards, opening up a new, larger shop on Edinburgh’s West Bow (pictured), from which she intends to carry on the knitting lessons that made K1 Glasgow such a community favourite. Beginners lessons started in early March, and will happen every Sunday. ‘I wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere where people could come along and sit down to look through books and magazines or just to sit and knit. I’ve already had groups of women arrange to meet up and knit at the shop, which is fantastic.’
Despite this growing popularity, there’s still a stigma attached to crafting and knitting. It’s one which the sinister-sounding Glasgow Craft Mafia – actually a consortium of upcoming local designers and indie businesses – established itself to challenge.
‘We’re keen to get away from the idea of traditional craft – your granny’s knitted scarf,’ says reigning Godmother Clare Nicolson. ‘This is modern craft, and we want to communicate with our customers that it’s better to buy hand-made than high street stuff.’ The Glasgow Craft Mafia run monthly fairs where the members sell clothes, stylish interiors accessories, handbags, and funky, quirky jewellery, as well as maintaining an online shop.
‘The idea was set up in Austin, Texas quite a while ago, but there are Craft Mafias all over the world,’ says Nicolson ‘We’re the biggest in the UK – we’ve got 25 members and the original branch still only has seven. We’re massive!’
Glasgow Craft Mafia, Sat 15 Mar, Hillhead Library. See www.glasgowcraftmafia.com for details of featured designers. Knitting classes at K1 Yarns, 89 West Bow Edinburgh, every Sunday from 1pm. Call 0131 226 7472 to book. k1yarns.com