Knit and Natter at the Engine Shed

Guest Blog | Written by: | Friday 15 March 2019

Two people knitting inside the Engine Shed. A table with pink wool on it is in front of them.

Janette enjoying some knitting at the Engine Shed. Image courtesy of Forth Valley Sensory Centre

We’re proud to host Forth Valley Sensory Centre’s Knit and Natter Group. The Centre offers services and advice to people with visual of hearing loss, and their families, carers and the wider community. It often organises activities like the Knit and Natter group that takes place in Stirling. Read on in this new blog by active group member Janette Scott, to find out more.

I was delighted to be invited to join a new knitting and nattering group at the Engine Shed in Stirling. Being blind, it is not always easy to travel. Overfull buses and trains put me off going to visually impaired groups outside Stirling, where I live. The Engine Shed is right beside the Millennium Bridge, and is easier for me to get to.

The Engine Shed staff made me and my guide dog Esme feel very welcome. They always greet our Knit and Natter group as we enter through the automatic door into the building. A happy greeting makes me smile every time and makes me feel special and very important.

Meeting the staff

We are often visited as we knit by staff members popping in just to say hello or to ensure we are being looked after, and if they can do anything to support us whilst we’re there. Anne (one of the Engine Shed’s Outreach Officers) who often meets and greets us has brought in her own knitting projects for us to feel and to admire. I find this interaction useful as we discover new techniques as well share stories of our own personal knitting experiences.

The Engine Shed is a very pleasant place to sit and have lunch with friends. I have introduced my family to the Engine Shed and also a few friends who did not know about it. As well as that, I visited it with my Art Group and had a tour with them feeling the structures, the natural stone and building blocks of Scottish building methods of the past. I loved the idea of the 3D printer they have there. They showed me some examples of replica Neolithic stones which had been 3D printed. It is a concept I still find hard to understand.

Getting to know others

Two people knitting inside the Engine Shed using pink wool

Image courtesy of Janette Scott

At the group we are usually welcomed by Brenda (the activities co-ordinator at Forth Valley Sensory Centre), who looks after us. She lets us know about other visually impaired groups that may interest us. This has allowed me to attend new classes and create new interests, friends and enhance my well-being.

It was so good to talk to a newly blind lady, who was a keen knitter and crocheter. She and I got on very well from the start and have become firm friends. While she has many helpful suggestions to pass along, I share my own knowledge about being blind in Stirling and where to go to get help. We natter as we knit and have shared wool, patterns and, of course, laughed along the way.

Trying new things

The Knit and Natter Group has given me an extra boost to enjoy the craft of knitting once again. I was given hand-dyed wool and a unique pattern as a gift, and I want to try more complicated patterns.

There are five colours from hand-dyed wool. The wool was dyed using food waste including onion skins, avocado skins, potato peelings, tree bark and other things.

With some assistance to read and follow the pattern, I knitted up the different coloured wools in turn. I do have an app on my phone that reads text but unfortunately images of stitches or how to weave the knit is impossible. With help from Brenda, I managed to practice the weaving. Then I tried it myself and put the ends together. I had to sew them off using a big, (and I do mean huge) darning needle.

I wore the knit which is a Saint Columba Cowl and had many admirers. Even though it looks complicated, it is a simple knit. However, the weaving was hard. I plan to make a few more then move on to a new knit project.

While I knit and natter, my guide dog just relaxes and falls asleep. But when we join the group she wags her tail as she knows everyone.

A black dog wearing a knitted scarf

Janette’s guide dog Esme modelling the St Columba cowl. Image courtesy of Jeanette Scott

We are keen to work with community groups at the Engine Shed. We’d love to hear from your group.

Forth Valley Sensory Centre is in Falkirk.

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From time to time we have guest posts from partners, visitors and friends of the Engine Shed.