The Knitted army of Olympic supporters

There is a new craze sweeping the London 2012 Olympics, the foundation of which rarely concerns itself with sporting prowess. A rapidly growing group of knitting enthusiasts have assumed centre stage in the lead up to this week’s opening ceremony.

This art form has been taken up by excited Games Makers who wish to create unique mascots which unite all the Olympic volunteers under a unified, woollen blanket. Each ‘knitted’ either takes on the appearance of a mini-Games Maker displayed proudly in uniform, or their creator’s favourite Olympian flashing an enthusiastic grin. This inventive trend started out as the brainchild of 52 year-old Liz Gibson, a primary school worker who doubles up as a print distribution volunteer in the Olympic stadium. However, ‘knitted’ devotees have now swelled into a committed group which boasts over 100 members.

Liz is known as ‘the Mother of the knitteds’ amongst her admirers, having produced the original mascot – Mini-Micky; the name was chosen to honour popular Games Maker Ellie Danville, who shares her nickname with the pioneering ‘knitted’. Talking about the reasons behind her invention, Liz told The Independent; “I won’t be able to put my Games Maker uniform on display in my house, but my ‘knitted’ will always remind me of the amazing time I had whilst taking part in such a fantastic event.”

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Paralympic gold medallist Graham Edmunds with his Knitted

Liz was eager to provide her fellow Games Makers with a mascot that directly represented their contribution to London 2012. This ambition has led her to design a range of ‘knitted’ patterns which allow others to embrace the fashion too. She has garnered bountiful support for her endeavours. She has been inundated with praise-filled messages ever since Tanni Grey-Thompson spotted Liz’s work on her Twitter feed. This request convinced Liz to reach out towards famous clients including Iwan Thomas, Jonathan Edmunds and several other Olympians. As this noteworthy portfolio builds, ‘knitted’ fever bubbles under the surface waiting to spill out into mainstream channels.

Every ‘knitted’ is slightly different and encompasses the distinct features of each Games Maker helping out during the Olympics. Although some depict specific Olympic athletes, such as Usain Bolt and Haile Gebrselassie, many are infused with imaginative strands. More and more of these woven treasures have popped up in recent days with personalities that set them apart from previous Olympic mascots. Rumours are rife that a woolly Michael Phelps may soon be making an appearance on the ‘knitted’ circuit. However, the amount of yellow wool it would take to recreate his medal collection may be hard to come by.

The ‘knitted’ army have opened up a busy Facebook group named Knitted United to attract more followers. The motto emblazoned across the front page highlights important keystones such as “sanctuary, fun, knowledge and social events”. Spectators have shown a lot of support for this innovation as the Games Makers parade them around the Olympic venues. This fashion is said to spread like wild-fire, as the prospect of securing quirky Olympic gifts heats up.

So far those in charge of training the Games Makers have not raised any safety issues or enforced humourless rules concerning the ‘Knitteds’ – and long may that stance continue. This laidback approach has enabled the volunteers to take their mascots along to practice sessions and onto the torch relay trail. They have even invaded the dressing rooms and Olympic cars.

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Ade Adepitan with his "knitted"

Another positive feature which celebrates the ‘knitted’ revolution is their ability to engage children in the Olympic spirit. However, this eager involvement has led to many photo opportunities and enquiries keeping helpers occupied for hours. Frankie Annets, a Games Maker events manager, said “the ‘knitteds’ initiate some great conversation, as people think they are cute and ask us how to get one”. Officials are likely to cast a wary eye over this social routine to ensure work remains steadfast, especially amidst recent crackdowns on unofficial sponsors and merchandise.

The ‘knitted’ vogue exemplifies how the Games is being tailored towards nurturing a cohesive society. It is heart-warming tangents like this which assist in creating a lasting Olympic legacy in London and beyond. It doesn’t always have to be about security issues, under-staffing and manic parking – there are good points to be appreciated as well.

If you want to create your own ‘knitted’ mascot, here are some patterns which can be downloaded and used for free: Mini ‘knitted’ and Large ‘knitted’.

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  • mezzander

    I used to knit soft toys, that’s really different and interesting….I’ve probably got some wool somewhere

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