When one persons inspirational good deed can positively impact upon a community, spreading a smile or three during the most difficult time our country (and the whole world) has endured in a long time.
I’m sure that I’m not alone in being a bit fed up with lockdown. Yet as it nears it’s end for us in the UK, I reflect over some of the days and months that we’ve endured and I can’t help but recall some positive aspects. One of which was the case of the Mystery Knitter.
I live on a housing estate in a town situated in the North East of England. Generally speaking our weather has a lot to be desired, but otherwise I feel that it’s a good area to live with lots to offer. My home town is coastal and so we have easy access to several beautiful beaches with some sensational sea scapes. We are also just a short distance to the countryside, where there are many walks and trails to enjoy. We have Moorland and Woodland walks all within a short drive . And if you’re not wanting to spend all your time with nature, then we also have several pretty villages to amble around on our outskirts and some marvelous Market Towns within easy reach. Not too far afield, only a short train ride or drive away we have the lively shopping and social playground of Newcastle City. As you can tell, at the risk of sounding like I work in tourist information, I am simply proud of my local area, and know that we are lucky to have so much within our reach.
However, Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns dealt a harsh blow, and access to many of these places, as well our social life and relationships were restricted, severely limiting our outdoor experience during this time. Our usual plethora of places to explore became radically reduced. More often, my dog walk became a tedious treading on the same tarmac through the same streets of my local estate.
As Christmas approached, I was battling particularly low moods as I was still grieving the sudden and unexpected loss of my mum the December before. Having then endured a year of such change, uncertainty and personal loss, in unequivocal magnitude, all in a world too far apart from anything recognisable as normal, it’s fair to say that I wasn’t in the best headspace. The month threw me into reliving the days leading up to, and following, mum’s passing; my mind and emotions struggling to come to terms with the shock and disbelief that had shaken me from deep within, and then wrapped around and temporarily trapped me. Yet at the same time still recalling many precious and happy memories of Christmases past, which were both comforting and yet also painful reminders of the loss that we’d encountered and were having to learn to live with.
I was walking my dog one day in December, not far from where mum lived, feeling all of these mixed and heavy emotions, when I noticed that a nearby bollard looked different. Being dusk, I needed to step closer to investigate and was quite delighted to see that someone had knitted and covered the bollards with a Snowman and a Santa! I immediately broke from my reverie and smiled. Such simple fun appealed to me. It gave me the same excited feeling of joy that a young child feels in the lead up to Christmas. I truly appreciated these two characters on my walk that day; the impact that they had on me was exactly what I needed. I will always be thankful to, and inspired by, the person who had the foresight to create something so fun in a time of deep social difficulty.
A few years ago I had joined a local social media online group. I joined in order to locate a kind samaritan who had found my mother-in-law’s purse and had chosen to seek to return it through this group. Their message had been seen by a friend of mine, who then alerted me. Through this group I was able to retrieve the purse for my mum-in-law, and also to thank the person who had carried out such a kind deed. I don’t use the group a great deal, but it’s there on my Facebook account, and so I occasionally see something on my newsfeed that’s occurring locally. One day I saw a photo and comment about some bollards being covered by a knitted design. I paused to read the post. Sure enough, the bollards had been re-covered after Christmas with new designs and people were noticing. Before long, more photos and more posts would appear. It became apparent that the person making these woolen covers, was indeed keeping undercover themselves! The secret knitter was now a phenomenon of our Estate. Who were they? But it didn’t stop there, they continued to cover more bollards and people in different areas of the estate began to share their photos too. A letterbox was even covered one day!
What has been most wonderful is that they remained in place. That they have not been stolen or vandalised. I am so happy about that for these have given so many people such delight, a focus, a purpose for their otherwise mundane walks for basic exercise.
This has fostered a community spirit and involvement that I’ve not experienced in years. I have seen this artwork in villages in recent years but never here in our streets or in a town. What a delightful and uplifting gift to give. To my knowledge no one knows who the knitter is. They were never seen changing them over… people became more interested in the mystery; who is it? who is doing this? I could imagine the fun that the person would be having!
Our local coastline was still available for walking during certain periods in the past months, and I was able to head out to get some fresh sea air (and by gosh, it certainly was fresh on some of the colder days!) I was surprised and pleasantly pleased to see that either our mystery knitter had expanded their figurative canvas, or they had developed a network of other knitters, or perhaps even had competition! Either way, it was so good to see that this phenomenon had spread further afield than our estate. I wonder just how far it went across town? That would be interesting to find out, but as were still in the ‘stay home’ phase, perhaps I will discover the answer to that in time to come.
I wanted to write an article about this because it shows how one person can touch and impact on so many others with such a simple and thoughtful act. How people have come together in a sharing of interest, appreciation, and of simple fun. I do hope that our mystery knitter is either a member of the online social group, or that they come forward one day, so that they can be thanked for their community service. I hope that they get to see the messages directly and to know the impact and gratitude of the many people who’s lives they have touched and lifted for a moment in a time which was mostly otherwise devoid of fun and frivolity.
So, if you get to read this, our Mystery Knitter – I thank you, on behalf of our community, and from myself directly too. You did a fabulous job of bringing a community together and raising everyone’s spirits.
There is now a second article as follow up to this one … click here