Norwich goes knitting crazy

Knitting is no longer just a hobby for your gran. Emma Harrowing talks to designer and knitter Lisa Bliss about how the craft is becoming a fashionable pastime and is appealing to all ages and sexes.

Even though the past few years has seen a revival in the traditional crafts of sewing, dress-making and knitting, it is the latter that is still perceived by some as a pastime for grannies.

Knit and knatter groups have popped up in caf�s, library's and craft places throughout Norwich and Norfolk and this year has seen a resurgence of these knitting hubs.

The Millennium Library has recently set up a knit and knatter group on Thursday afternoons between 2pm and 3pm. As well as knitting, you can also take your needlework along to get advice and make new friends while being creative. Some women in their 20s and 30s have even set up their own knitting circles in their own homes as a way of getting creative and socialising.

The phrase 'Knit and Knatter' conjures up an image of making a pair of baby booties while gossiping, and it's an image that makes knitting seem like a hobby for women of a certain age.

Not so, says Lisa Bliss the Rowan representative at John Lewis. The department store has recently set up a knit and knatter workshop on the first Thursday evening of every month.

'We set up the group after there was a growing interest in knitting,' says Lisa.

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'And it is not just the more mature woman to whom these sessions appeal. At our first session at the beginning of this month a man in his 40s came with a scarf that he was in the process of knitting and joined the group to get advice and join in the knitting fun.'

Knit and knatter takes place in the haberdashery department in the basement in a dedicated knitting area. Complete with comfy sofa and chair, coffee table and access to hundreds of different types of wool and tools, it's a knitters dream.

The workshops are for beginners, intermediate and advance knitters, and Lisa and other members of skilled staff are on hand to offer advice, and can even teach you to knit if you fancy picking up the knitting needles.

'If you are new to knitting it's best to begin using thicker needles and chunky wool,' explains Lisa. 'This way you will find that you will be able to knit a scarf or a hat quite quickly, which will spur you on to start your next project.

'Items made with chunky wool are very fashionable at the moment.'

Fashion is a major influence on how knitting is gradually becoming a trendy hobby for younger people.

Concerns about our impact on the environment and an increased interest in the skills learnt by our grandparents and great-grandparents, mean that knit and natter groups are becoming popular with all ages. The knitted jumper is also a must-have item for autumn and winter wardrobes and knitting your own means that you can create something unique to you.

Knitting is not the only pastime on the up. Dress-making, jewellery design and crochet are other skills being embraced over the last few years. Make Place on Magdalen Street now offers more than 30 classes that range from cushion-making to learning the basics of dressmaking.

Norfolk-based The Mercerie runs craft classes throughout the region including, for September, textile classes at Arts Desire on St Benedict's, crochet classes at Dragon's Hall, and dressmaking classes at City College Norwich. Owner Sue Maton also provides knitting and sewing kits that include video tutorials to help you create products.

In the knitting hub at John Lewis, expectations are that the group will grow.

'People are increasingly interested in learning how to make their own clothes or accessories for their home,' says Lisa. 'Hopefully our knitting area will make people seize the opportunity to learn a new skill and make their own scarves, hats or jumpers.'

The John Lewis Knit and Natter sessions take place on the first Thursday of the month from 5-7pm in the haberdashery department.

To find out more about the classes on offer at Make Place on Magdalen Street visit

For more information about the Millenium Library knit and knatter group, contact Caroline Varney on 01603 774781 or email