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Encyclopeadia of Knitted Stories, 2003

I worked with Tatyana Nikolaenko, a St Petersburg artist, and Wilma Johnson, a Shetland knitter, on this participatory event which took place at the State Museum for Urban Culture, as part of the official British Council programme of events during Manchester Week in St Petersburg, celebrating the city’s 300th anniversary.  In 2003 the emplacements project took place throughout the city of St Petersburg and also was represented through events in Manchester, with our key partner in St Petersburg visiting the UK for the occasion.  This work was supported by the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland).

We used Shetland wool in colours symbolic of both Russia and Shetland. For example, the navy and white stripe is well known in Russian as a shirt worn by the Russian navy.  At the time it was manufactured in St Petersburg at the Red Banner Knitwear Factory, which sadly has closed.  We invited members of the public to come to the museum to knit squares and tell stories linked to their experience of knit.  The event was filmed, and some splendid stories were recorded. At the time we had a website,, through which we shared the material.  The event was well covered in the media.

Artists Derek Tyman and Emma Rushton from Manchester also took part on the day, staging a participatory event which engaged the audience of knitters as they worked and shared stories.

Other events took place throughout the city including art works installed temporarily in various sites and contexts. A closing event brought all the artists together and enabled us to display some of the artefacts produced during and for the project.

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