Knitting a Nation was always, from the very start, an amorphous cloud of an idea. It was about shared creativity, a sense of belonging, excitement, a desire to be involved, love of our land. It was never about inputs, outcomes and hard data.
So, when Jo and Francois asked me to assess the success or failure of Knitting a Nation for their documentary ‘Social Fabric’, I didn’t know what to say. Yes, we could quote numbers.
We could say that so many women took part and produced so many stitches and rows and x number of yards of frame. We could say that this number of people have seen the map and it has been exhibited in that number of venues and that the number of visits to the website defies all our expectations…
I suppose if we did a bit of research and actually asked the women who took part to complete a questionnaire, we could actually find out how many were No voters, how many Yes, and how many were undecided at the start. We could ask whether they changed their minds during the course of the project – though even then we could never actually say anyone changed –either way – as a result of taking part.
We could talk about spin-off projects: the listening groups and crafternoons. We could estimate the number of people through the doors at our Art Exhibiiton. We could talk about our part in the National Collective Summerhall Exhibition, the Documenting YES photographic project and the Michael Greenwell on-line interview. Or the failed attempts to interest journalists (and a church knitting group) in our attempt at positive campaigning, on the grounds it was ‘too political’ .
But if success of failure is measured in concrete terms, we completely miss the heart, the essence, call it what you will, of Knitting a Nation. Still don’t know how to capture that! Next blog, I’ll try again.