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24 September 2014
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A giant tree calls for giant needles
Alison busy with her giant needles

Tree cheers for Devon knitters

Take 700 people, 1,400 knitting needles and 6,000 balls of wool and what do you get? Answer: A 25ft high woollen Christmas tree with branches everywhere! It's official - knitting is back in vogue!


Woolly Facts

Various articles in magazines, including Vogue International, brought in knitters from as far away as Rhode Island in America, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.

By November 2005, more than 700 people had taken part in the project and over £6,000 has been raised.

Many children from age three upwards helped to make the big red garland, which the angel on top of the tree is knitting . 

The oldest knitter is 100 years old.

The knitted tree stands more than 25ft high and is 16ft across the base. It is conical in shape and built over scaffolding.

Alison Murray is a bit of a knit! In fact she's a lot of a knit! Well ok, she's a lot of a KNITTER - to be exact!

The finished tree
The finished tree

If you live in North Devon you may have already met her. She's the lady who's been sitting in the Atlantic Village shopping centre in Bideford every Sunday for weeks, knitting .... a 25ft tall Christmas tree!

Actually it's not such a mad idea as you may at first think. Back in April 2005, Alison had a desire to create a community project which would bring together the people of North Devon and raise money for a local charity.

Being a passionate knitter, she hit upon a novel idea. She'd get together a group of people to craft a woollen Christmas tree.

"I've been knitting for the past 20 years or more and I've made several sculptures. I  wanted to do something that would involve the whole community but one that would result in something that non-knitters could enjoy too," Alison told the BBC Devon website.

Finger Knitting
Children show off their finger knitting

A feature about the idea was published in a local newspaper and 50 volunteers came forward that day alone.

"In the beginning it was to be a North Devon project, but the word spread and even holidaymakers took wool and information sheets away with them and it became national." 

Each person is asked to knit a small part of the tree - in any shade of green. They are given a guide pattern and when they return their finished triangle they also give a donation to the North Devon Hospice.

Branches Everywhere

"Alison has raised over £6,000 for our hospice and it is anticipated that this figure will rise to well over £10,000."
Anne Tattersall from North Devon Hospice

By November more than 700 people had taken part in the project and over £6,000 has been raised.

Many groups have been formed in sheltered housing projects and nursing homes knitting "Sleeves for Leaves".

The end product has been sewn, the knitted decorations stitched on and on Sunday 13th November 2005 the 25ft finished tree was erected in the main mall of Atlantic Village. 

It will be on view to the public until January 4th 2006.

"It's fantastic that so many people have taken the sculpture to heart," says Alison. "Men, women, children, tourists and locals have all played a part. Knitting is definitely back in vogue."

Grange and Verona Court Sheltered Housing
Young and old took part in the project

Anne Tattersall from the North Devon Hospice says Alison is an amazing woman. "She has given all her time freely and has been working flat out for over four months on the tree," she told the BBC Devon website.

"Already Alison has raised over £6,000 for our hospice and it is anticipated that this figure will rise to well over £10,000. 

"Not only has she raised the money but she has brought communities together as they have knitted in village halls, supermarkets, each others' homes and she has raised the profile of knitting nationally."

Alison hopes the woollen tree will go on tour in 2006 and wherever it goes it will continue to raise money for the local hospice.

last updated: 23/12/05
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