A family gathering brought me back to my childhood city this summer. It’s great to be reunited with so many memories and stories and make new ones with my family.
There, I found the great social-knitting project of Jerusalem women, Zaza Knits Eye Contact. The meaning of this exhibition is based on the eye contact that you make when you are knitting and the eye contact between people, especially after COVID-19.
The project was created out of the desire to make contact – to keep together the human connection among different populations by way of contributing to the beauty of the city of Jerusalem.
This exhibition is an intergenerational urban Jerusalem-knitting project, that presented an opportunity to work jointly with the participation of more than 100 women from all over the community – Orthodox women, nonreligious women, Arab and Christian women. These women come from sheltered housing throughout the city, women’s clubs, seniors’ clubs, knitting groups in community administrations and more.
“Lots of the participating were so grateful for the opportunity to meet with other woman, to share information on different types of knitting and techniques and, especially, to do something meaningful for the community,” said Merav Gilad, who does the artistic planning, recruitment, leadership and facilitation of the knitting groups.
I was lucky to meet up with two ladies that morning – Ms. Chana, from the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, and Ms. Mazal Naor, from Ramat Beit Hakerem of Jerusalem.
Chana has been knitting since she was 10 years old. This is not her first time to participate and volunteer in knitting project. She knitted 10 octopi toys as a donation to Premature Babies at Shaare Zedek hospital. She loves to knit scarves and hats for IDF soldiers.
Naor has been knitting since she was 20 years old. Currently, she gives knitting lessons at two seniors clubs in Jerusalem.
The city hall of Jerusalem led this special knitting project with the Department of Plastic Arts and the Department of the Advancement of Women and the Elderly of the Society Division in the East of the City, and the Department of Leadership Development and Advancement of Women and the Department of the Elderly in the Jerusalem municipality.
Picking up the needles was all about the fun of it to start with; same with diving. “I saw people diving and thought, wow, that looks cool. I want to try that. So I tried it and had the most fun time.”
“It wasn’t wasn’t without its challenges. Like, I used to spend the first couple of years crying every session because I was so scared and terrified about the whole thing. But then there was this really weird turning point where I was just like, you know what, I’m just gonna go for it.”
So, how exactly does one train to get to this level of knit? (If you’re looking for diving tips, you’re on your own).
The knit process itself actually stretches back thousands of years, with origins across Egypt and the Middle East. But it was in the 15th century and on the English Channel Islands that knit jerseys as we know them today were first produced as warming, durable garments for Loves Knitting dressing the element-bearing sea-farers of Guernsey. The effectiveness of the knit sweater caught on, though, with textile producers across Ireland and Scotland developing this fisherman’s staple much further, adding complex patterns and Celtic knots to the design and, in turn, birthing the iconic Aran sweater.
Like all good clothing items that go global, the knit sweater was soon appropriated from its original use and applied to famous faces via the likes of Steve McQueen and Marilyn Monroe. Knitwear in menswear is on the rise again, popping up on Adam Driver via the big screen and being touted by the likes of A$AP Rocky and Tyler IRL of late.
Packed full of so much history and practical prowess, the knit sweater is a timeless garment that everyone’s usually got ‘their favorite’ for. With knit sweater season finally here, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites around right now — from trustworthy staples to standout investment items from new collections.