If you are local to the shop, you might have been lucky enough to see the frankly amazing knitted town that has been on display. I was lucky enough to chat to Elaine Pye, the lovely lady behind the knitted town, and find out a bit about it.
Elaine is the vice president of the Dolphin WI, and was inspired to start making a knitted version of Braintree after her sister had come up with the idea of celebrating 900 years of her own village in Hertfordhsire with a knitted replica of the main buildings. As the WI were celebrating its centenary, she felt it was good timing to steal the idea for Braintree!
Like so many project beginnings, Elaine said she found herself saying out loud that she 'would have a go'. It began with St Michael's Church, which she felt was a good central point of the town, but soon moved on to making the Library (as a good modern contrast) and then the Town Hall and the Swan Pub. What started off as a small project soon grew and became a much bigger project than she had envisaged.
Elaine said that making the buildings meant that they really started looking at the architecture in the town, and noticing things they normally wouldn't. Like the amazing windows in George Yard - things that you walk past everyday without noticing. Braintree is actually a really beautiful town, with some gorgeous buldings. But like anywhere, once you live in a place, it is easy to become blind to the amazing sights on your doorstep.
The basic structure for each building is made from polystyrene. Elaine said she was surprised that by showing the laides some polystyrene lumps, it was able to spark so much creativity! Ladies would take roof sections away with them to work on, and many of them researched new stitches to learn to replicate the tiling patterns.
Once the town was complete, Elaine gave each lady the challenge of making a market stall. It was their 'signature dish' as Elaine puts it. They had free reign to do what they wanted.
Going forward, there is plan to add The White Hart, the old water tower, and the Citizens Advice Bureau. There is even talk of completing the public gardens as a winter project!
Elaine's aim was 'to bring a group of mixed ability ladies together to show them what they could acheive', and it is clear that that is exactly what Elain has managed. She is clearly immensiely proud of each of the ladies who have taken part in the project. I asked her if it had been what she had hoped it would be. Her whole face lit up, and she replied 'Oh yes, definitely. More'.
The knitted town is currently on display in one of the shop windows in George Yard, opposite Greggs the Bakers. It will be moving to the museum in September. There will also be a calander and postcards featuring the knitting later in the year, which will be available to buy and raise funds for the WI.
Do you have a project like this in your town? I'd love to see pictures! You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like them to be featured in a later blog :)