Stitch-happy Nina Dodd has been knitting unusual things in Brighton for many years, but her latest project is something truly spectacular. She aims to create an enormous knitted picture of the West Pier, which will be the size of a double-decker bus and consist of 5,000 squares.
The woolly spread will be the culmination of the knitter in residence project run by Brighton and Hove Buses, which aims to get people making and creating during their commute. Nina will not be knitting all the squares; the idea is that people will knit squares during their journeys on public transport and send them in to be stitched into the picture. The residency is a follow-up residency to Lou Theodore’s artist in residence project, which proved to be a great success.
The ways in which people in Brighton and Hove are accepting of all things quirky and kooky is evidenced by the project, said Nina: “I do think living here contributed to my love of knitting unusual things. I don’t think I would have made this kind of stuff if I lived somewhere else because in Brighton nothing is too weird, nothing is too odd.”
Carole Richmond, the Marketing Manager for B&H Buses, came up with the idea for this project because she enjoys embroidering on the train. She often sees other passengers crocheting and knitting, and would like to see more people follow suit and spend less time on their phones.
Ms Richmond said: “The minute we talk about the knitting residency, everyone goes ‘oh, that’s very Brighton’ and it really is a part of what we’re all about. It’s about working with the spontaneous art and creativity of the people on our buses, and then trying to spread the word.”
Nina, who calls herself the Duke of Woolington, works in the student support department of the medical school at Sussex University when she’s not busy knitting. She is no stranger to a weird and wonderful wool project. She has previously knitted a Eurovision-tastic dress, a People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove tea cosy, and perhaps most famously her bus seat jumper. She came up with the idea during a commute to work. “I do use the bus to commute, but I do just love a bus,” said Nina. “One of my strange madnesses is that sometimes I’ll just buy one of those bus passes for the Southeast and take a solo day trip. I go to all kinds of places!”
Although she is only a few days into the residency, Nina has received nothing but positive feedback from her friends, family, colleagues, and fellow bus commuters. She’s working to set up a knitting group for students and other staff members who have told her they love her idea. “I’ve had people coming up to me and patting me on the back, telling me ‘oh my gosh, that’s fantastic’,” said Nina.
Because of the nature of the project, there is not yet a confirmed completion date. However, Nina will be busy sitting and knitting every evening and hopes she will contribute more than 100 squares.