At first glance there’s nothing unusual about
Alison Murray’s home in Bideford, South West
England. There’s a cozy living room with table and
chairs. A bedroom with pillows and blankets. Eggs
and bacon in a frying pan on the kitchen stove.
But this entire cottage, and everything in it,
has been knitted by hand — the cupcakes on a
plate, the cat curled on the bed, and every flower
in the woolen garden blooming beside the 12-foot
knitted trees. Not to mention the knitted teapot,
cups and saucers, and portraits on the walls.
Photograph by Alison Murray
“I’ve always thought of knitting as art, more than
just scarves and sweaters,” says Murray, age 45,
who works as a chaperone for child stars of film
and TV when she’s not stitching. “It’s not just for
grandmothers. I’ve always loved sculptural knitting,
crafting giant ketchup bottles and mermaids. But
I decided I wanted a bigger project.”
Millions of stitches later, she has a life-sized gingerbread house comprising thousands of multicolored
knitted squares hung on a metal frame. Knitted candies and cakes decorate the knitted roof and walls.
Murray launched her first oversized project in
2005, when she crafted a 25-foot-high Christmas
tree to raise money for charity, with the help of
friends: some 700 friends contributed thousands
of knitted tree limbs.
Last year knitters from across America joined
those in the U.K., Spain, and France to craft details
for the gingerbread house. They stitched pet guinea
pigs, saltwater taffy and gateaux, roof tiles, rugs,
furniture, lollipops, and more than 2,500 gingerbread men, all mailed to Murray.
“I knitted for months myself, making a broom,
logs of firewood, a cuckoo clock, and much more,”
she says. “It allowed children to get involved [by]
knitting parts of the project, and best of all we are
raising funds to help support children’s hospitals.”
The house is touring Britain through 2008, and
Murray says, “It’s changing people’s attitudes to
knitting. Now I’m planning next year’s project: it’ll
be bigger than ever.” —Peter Sheridan
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