A pile of 5cm x 5cm knitted squares for the knitted version of an impressionist painting
Photo: Mamie et Moi
Learning to do anything new on Skype is hard enough at the best of times. So, when the pandemic forced intergenerational knitting association Mamie et Moi (granny and me) to take its meetings and private lessons online in May, it was not clear how things would evolve.
“Of course, this aspect was difficult because it’s really hard to learn knitting on Skype! And this is not Mamie et Moi’s philosophy: we believe that to learn a manual skill, there is nothing better than having an experienced and patient senior citizen by your side, who will pass on their passion and story,” association co-manager Camille Gouiffes-Alexandre told Delano.
The not-for-profit was founded in Luxembourg in 2012 to bring different generations together to share the pleasure of knitting and offer an e-commerce platform for members to sell their creations. With members ranging in age from 40 to 90, the switch to online meetings was essential to protect the most vulnerable members. While it threw up technical challenges for those not comfortable with digital tools like Skype and Zoom, five months on and the group’s virtual knitting cafés have proved a hit. On the one hand, they are easier to access for members living further away, and those shielding for health reasons. On the other, the group was able to launch an ambitious project to recreate a Luxembourg impressionist painting, currently exhibited at the Villa Vauban museum.
Inspired by “Tricote un sourire” (knit a smile)--a project in Normandy, France, in which knitters knocked out thousands of coloured squares to reproduce Monet’s paintings--Mamie et Moi created the “Collectif au Carré” (square collective) challenge to make a painting by Corneille Lentz, pictured below. “We chose this painting because it represents an intergenerational scene: a mother knitting in a woodshed and her child watching her, and it evokes knitting,” Gouiffes-Alexandre explained. The final piece, composed of more than 5,000 knitted squares each measuring 5cm x 5cm, will be exhibited from 21 April 2021.
Lockdown prompted many people to develop new creative pastimes, such as baking and gardening. While in some cases this trend led to shortages of materials like flour and yeast, for knitters it was not a problem. “Knitting is a passion or a hobby for which we usually buy materials in advance--we fall in love with a wool in a store; we don't know yet what we are going to do with it, but we buy it for later,” Gouiffes-Alexandre said.
What is more, knitting was a positive way to tackle the boredom, social isolation and uncertainty during the pandemic. “It is said that knitting is the new yoga, and the health situation has really confirmed it for us: for many, knitting masks, and now squares of all colours, is a way to stay active from home, being useful for a greater cause, while at the same time stimulating their brain (knitting involves logic, math, the rule of three, mental arithmetic, etc.),” Gouiffes-Alexandre said.