The impressive result of months of planning and knitting was revealed today – as Ruddington prepares to celebrate the long Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in style.
The finished, knitted banner was hoisted up outside The Framework Knitters’ Museum on Chapel Street this lunchtime (Friday 27th May), watched by onlookers – some of whom are actually featured within the stitching of the giant artwork created by textile artist Marie Jones!
You can watch our video of the very first, momentous raising of the new village banner below.
As previously reported, Marie was commissioned by the museum via Glassball Studio to piece it together with a nod to Ruddington’s Friendly Societies banner processions of old – to feature artwork telling current villagers‘ story of Ruddington: ‘The Diamond Village’. After locals were asked to nominate their own ‘Ruddington Diamonds’, to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, half a dozen famous faces (old and new) from our village have now been knitted into the banner – which will be paraded through Ruddington on Sunday 5th June 2022. It will leave the museum at 10.30am before eventually arriving on The Green, to be blessed at the special Jubilee open-air church service there, at 11.30am.
All the ‘Diamonds’ were selected for either their outstanding current day or historic contributions to Ruddington life. They are Alex Preston (The Bottle Top), Queen Victoria’s chevener Ann Birkin (1816-1909), cricketer Jack W Sharpe (1866 – 1936), Demetrios Lawton (Ruddington Fish Bar) and John Noble & Dave Frankie (The Framebreakers). You can click on their names to read more about them and their achievements – and see close-ups of these six chosen ‘Diamonds’ as knitted on the banner below.
Marie reveals her banner comprises over one million, three hundred and fifty thousand, three hundred and sixty stitches and 5000m of tasseling. She says the bizarre name she’s given it – ‘Find the Man with the Ferret’ – came from a conversation with Ruddington resident and BBC Radio Nottingham presenter Sarah Julian, just after she started knitting it: “Sarah told me a producer’s motto for finding a good story at an event was ‘Never speak to the event organiser, find the man with the ferret!’ It gave me a giggle at the time and stuck with me after. It’s about finding the quirks and characteristics that all come together to make an event or place special.”
The banner comprises five panels, each hacked, downloaded and knitted on a domestic knitting machine and sewn together by hand. Marie continues: “Tassels were wound around and around by my Grandma Margaret Robinson and volunteers of the Framework Knitters Museum forming the hairs on the beings face. All of the elements within the banner are inspired by objects, designs and stories found within the Framework Knitters Museum and Ruddington. They are drawn digitally but I allow the software that hacks the knitting machine to collaborate and decide where the final stitches lie as it moves them around ever so lightly here and there.”
Additionally the main banner bears both the motto ‘Kindness is free and never forgotten’ as well as the rather more obscure ‘Manus lava modo’ – which should bring a smile to the face of Latin scholars in the wake of the pandemic.
The sixth panel sewn to the front is for The Presser who symbolically climbs in and leads the way. For the Jubilee Parade itself this honour has been given to Tracy Philo, the manger of Hermitage Preschool, who says she can’t wait to see the children’s faces!
Marie says she’s immensely enjoyed the project from start to finish, but finds it hard to estimate how many hours she’s put in: “There’s quite a difference between how long it takes me to create a piece and how long it takes to knit a piece. It’s a bit like sewing a garment. Sometimes all of the prep and piece ing it together at the end takes longer than the actual sewing. We began chatting about the idea in January and I started knitting at the start of April.”
She adds: “The museum is such a gem and everyone who I’ve met there or through the project has been so very lovely. It’s made me smile a lot! I’m now very excited to see it hoisted. I love how it’s transformed from something I worked on, sitting down on my lap, to something that’s massive and moving! It’s the most exciting bit for me – as I got to see what it really looks like, too!”
The museum’s new Operations Manager, Sarah Godfrey, agrees: “In all my time working in the arts, this is up there as the most bonkers and brilliant thing I’ve ever seen. Dave from the Framebreaker’s face almost dropped to the floor upon seeing it! I don’t think anyone here expected what we saw today. It was wonderful atmosphere this morning, surrounded by the makers, diamonds of the village and visitors. We laughed so much!”
She continues: “We are very much looking forward to the event on Sunday the 5th June. Please join our procession from 10.30am starting at the museum chapel, ending up on the village green by 11.30am for a blessing.”
Finally, we shouldn’t forget one further ‘Ruddington Diamond’ – Wilbur the Cat. Indeed, Marie has created him his very own banner. As Wilbur didn’t even show up to his own tenth birthday party, whether or not we’ll be able to track down our village’s most famous feline on the big day itself is an entirely different matter!