A Weekly Meet-up for Sociable Knitters at the Pub

In the back of the bar at the Duke, a group of women chat at three tables. Some tuck into plates of fish and chips.

Others, though, are clicking knitting needles, unravelling balls of yarn and checking row-counter apps and patterns on their phones.

Amy Coleman arranged the first meet-up of the Dublin Drunken Knitwits in September 2017.

She’d joined a similar group while working in Oxford for a year. She’d been looking for something that broke the stereotype.

Not just “full of 80-year-old women knitting in the library which is the view that a lot of people have of knitting groups”, she says.

Coleman was unsure at first if there would be demand when she moved back here. “Is this something that people are going to like or am I going to be the weirdo knitting on her own in a pub?” she says.

But the idea took off. The Dublin Drunken Knitwits have 10 to 15 core members, and gather each Wednesday from 6pm to knit and chat in a circuit of pubs around the city centre.

Right now, it’s just female knitters – though men are “very welcome to come”, Coleman says.

The Oxford Drunken Knitwits was set up by Janey Messina in 2012. Members of the original meet-up have formed international groups in Australia and the US, too. Some of those have men along to knit.

One guy used to come along to the Dublin group, but he moved to Galway, says Coleman. “It seems men don’t tend to knit, or they don’t tend to come along.”

Most attendees have stumbled on the Dublin group while looking for knitting nights online, she says. They’ve had people on holiday stop by – most recently two women from Spain.

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“I came as soon as I could,” says Juliette Williams with a laugh.

That was the same week she moved to Dublin from Boston last August, she says.

The knitters were welcoming, says Williams. “It’s just so easy to bond with people over what you’re knitting.”

Williams is working on a green T-shirt with an illusion neckline made from a fine mohair wool. Every few rows, she holds up the fabric to check her progress in a mirror on the opposite wall.

Around the tables, some debate the politics of giving knitted gifts to friends and family. Making a knitted-something for a new baby can set a precedent. In a large family, that can be overwhelming.

While not formally a class, Coleman says those who turn up are happy to help “anyone who comes along with a ball of wool, a pair of needles and wants to learn”.

Karina Kelly shows off her first completed project. The pair of mittens are in a chunky sea-green wool.

She first came to the Dublin Drunken Knitwits last year. She took a break to do a course, and was back two months ago, she says.

“You won’t wear them out but I’m really proud of them,” Kelly says, as she puts the mittens back in her bag. Now, she’s knitting a hat with cream wool.

Around the tables, most work away on circular needles with bamboo tips – this “knitting in the round” takes up less room than using a criss-cross of long straight needles. Simple projects work best for pub-knitting, especially if there’s drinking.

Nearby, Fionnula Doherty finishes another row of a grey sock. She was supposed to make socks later this year, she says. But, ahead of a past meet-up, she had forgotten the cowl she had been making.

“I was like if I go home to get my knitting, I won’t come to knit night and I wanted to come,” she says. She picked up a pattern, needles and wool from a shop. The left sock is done already, a simple lace pattern down its side.

Doherty knits Eastern continental style with the working length of yarn in her left hand. She holds the wool as she would if she was crocheting like her grandmother taught her when she was a child, she says. She learnt to knit using videos on YouTube.

The Dublin Drunken Knitwits have 10 or 12 pubs that they generally go to. Pubs that aren’t too loud, or too dark, and have food for the after-work knitters, says Coleman.

Negative reactions have been few. Requests for scarves are common.

By 8.45pm, the women have begun to drift away. The bar at the Duke is quieter.

“We have people who have been kitting for 40 years and people who have been knitting for a few months,” Coleman says. “Everyone encourages one another.”

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Eimear Dodd: Eimear Dodd is a freelance journalist. You can follow her @dodd_ec.

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