Tansy West explores knitting culture through the project ‘knitting as fine-art’, presented in a short film as a companion piece to her dissertation. The film includes Tansy’s analysis on the gender stereotyping and public perception of knitters, as well as the history and value of knitting.
Now a regular knitter and crocheter, Tansy regularly attends Colèchi’s monthly knitting club YKWU. The film is a reminder as to why YKWU began, as a way to expand on the idea and perception of who can knit and showing the hard work that goes into making clothes.
In the first five minutes of the video, Tansy mentions that the initial perception of a knitter is an older, white woman, making knitting feel like an activity that is safe and homey; before taking us through a time warp of how this perception began, from idolising who the 60’s housewife should be, and separating who can take the hobby up as a career. She cleverly references pop culture and historical figures to back up her points.
Today, as we explore social media, younger people across all genders are demonstrating that knitting doesn’t belong to a single profile of people. Normally during the knitting club, we find Tansy knitting away, bringing in a new project and sometimes guiding newer knitters. We asked her what she thought about YKWU, to which she replied:
“I came to my first YKWU event around a year ago and I instantly realised I had stumbled across something unique. It’s not just a knit club; Colèchi’s ‘You Can Knit With Us’ community is a welcoming and inclusive environment to all persons and knitting abilities. When I first came to the sessions I was beginning my journey with knitting and crocheting, but I have since learnt so many techniques and become so confident with my knitting ability; as each session leader has offered something different and valuable. I have also gained wisdom from the members of the community as well as overwhelming encouragement from each piece I have knitted.”
Tansy knits hats, vests and jumpers and sells these pieces on Depop. You can also connect with her on Instagram, and other enthusiastic knitters at YKWU, which celebrates its first anniversary and takes place on the last Sunday of every month at The Lab E20 in Stratford.