Crafting

‘Lost skills’ campaign designed to revive knitting and sewing

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Brenda Fisher

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They are skills passed down through generations, but sewing and knitting are in danger of becoming “lost” arts, according to the Scottish Women’s Institute (SWI), which wants handcrafts to return to the classroom.

The body, which has about 17,000 members, has bemoaned a lack of traditional home skills among the younger generation amid anecdotal evidence that people struggle with basic tasks such as sewing a button onto a garment.

It believes schoolchildren should learn how to thread a needle, darn socks and knit, as in yesteryear when teaching such skills was a part of the school day.

The SWI, also known as the Rural, said handcrafts could be taught during lunchtimes or after-school clubs, and said it has members across Scotland who are prepared to assist teachers.

The organisation is also considering a proposal to the Scottish Qualifications Authority that could pave the way for it teach handcrafts to a younger audience and grant qualifications.

“Handcrafts are not taught in schools any more and we fear these skills could be in danger of dying out,” said Linda Retson, the SWI’s chairwoman.

The Rural recently launched a campaign to save Scottish crafts, backed by television personality Lorraine Kelly and Judy Murray, the mother of British tennis No 1, Andy.

Kelly said she learnt knitting at school and finds it “therapeutic and a real stress buster”. Murray has compared tennis to knitting, in that both require concentration, rhythm, timing and attention to detail.

Knitting emerged as a popular part of school life after the Second World War, when wool was in short supply and women were urged to unpick old garments and reuse yarn. It was phased out of lessons with the introduction of the national curriculum in 1988.