Following International Women’s Day, I felt it only fitting to discuss the Women for Women event during RAG week. The event provided a great opportunity to be creative, and it inspired participants to learn a new skill from an expert in her field as well as finding a time to relax. On February 21st, St Andrews students in the UK and beyond were invited to sit down, take a well-deserved breath and take part in a very beginner-friendly fibre arts project: Knitting on the Loom.
The event was hosted by Anja Caldwell, who owns FiberArt.Studio in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. At the studio, Anja lends her expertise to adults and children alike on anything from knitting to crocheting, to weaving and needle felting. FiberArt.Studio generously sponsored the Women for Women event, providing the yarn for the loom project, and Anja kindly taught the class. Sharing her genius virtually, she instructed students on their looms by way of a three-camera set up which has become to new norm for FiberArt.Studio online classes during the pandemic.
FiberArts.Studio purchased the yarn from a local shop in Pittenweem and sent out bundles including the yarn and handheld looms to those taking part in the UK. We’ve all witnessed the devastating effects of the pandemic on small businesses but since the local Pittenweem shop, The Woolly Brew, has had to remain closed due to the current restrictions, they’ve opened an incredible online shop for all your fibre art’s needs (so if you missed the event and want to give it a try, you know where to get your yarn).
The RAG (raising and giving) event was a collaboration with St Andrews Women for Women International and St Andrews KnitSoc. As such, the event not only connected a huge number of people in a very special way but raised the whopping £258 which will be split between Women for Women and the St Andrews Charities campaign’s three local, national and international charities: Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre, Scottish Association for Mental Health and Choose Love Refugees. Knitting on the Loom proved an engaging and productive event for students to learn new skills and connect with friends in a much-needed way, all with some amazing causes in mind. This was one of many virtual events RAG hosted during their week of giving. RAG also hosted a very successful raffle that added to their fundraising initiatives. The current circumstances have meant a significant loss in opportunities to fundraise, so virtual events like this are more important now more than ever.
All involved deemed the event hugely successful, not just for the amount raised for charity, but as a chance to take some well-deserved me time that didn’t involve coursework, classes or stress of any kind. A picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s clear there were many happy attendants who knitted beautiful, unique creations. A normal St Andrews semester is filled to the brim with fundraisers, society events and a ball or two to look forward to, but we are living at a time where normality feels lost. We must connect where we can and realise we’re probably not the only ones feeling alone.
I have a confession to make; I’m not usually someone who is particularly gifted when it comes to fibre arts. Yet, I can’t be the only one (at some point or another during these many lockdowns) inspired into taking on a creative project along these lines. Loom knitting might be the perfect undertaking as it is a fast and fun way to create something beautiful. Learning the basics is relatively simple and the results seem beyond satisfying, so perhaps this will be the next endeavour I look to as a way to get away from my ever-present deadlines. As someone who tried their hand (and failed miserably) at the art of crocheting, with loom knitting you can create the same projects as traditional knitting but see results (and in my case, where I’m going wrong) much earlier.
As you can probably tell this event was a great success for everyone involved and raised an amazing amount for some incredible causes all hosted by an amazingly talented expert. If this isn’t the kind of positive news we need to hear, I don’t know what else is.