Two cups of coffee, a table full of knitwear and one topic of conversation. The word itself implies what this wool-mountain-meeting is all about. It’s not just that „binda“ means „to tie“. The Faroese verb also stands for „to knit“. Binding stitches, sharing skills and bringing people together: That’s the basic idea of the Bindifestivalurin í Fuglafirði. The unique knitting festival will take place in the village of Fuglafjørður, from 27-29th April, 2017, for the third time.
Eileen Ejdesgaard, who works as a hairdresser and at a care home for the elderly, is one of the founders of the festival. At the age of about five, she started knitting. Her mother and her grandmother taught her how to acquire a taste for all kinds of patterns and yarns. „I’ve always been doing handiwork“, Eileen tells me. „I like my sewing machine, but knitting is my favorite. As for me, it’s like flipping the switch. While knitting, I quite often find myself lost in profound thoughts.“
Knitting on the Faroe Islands: a biggie, past, present and future, tradition, arts and passion. Many Faroese are knitting enthusiasts, if not maniacs or addicts. On ferries, on campgrounds, on passenger seats, they seem to be knitting everywhere. On two needles, five needles or one big circular one, gracefully handling stitches, just like circus performers juggling with balls, knitting incredibly fast, managing insanely hard-to-disentangle knitting instructions, creating socks, cardigans, scarfs, hats, mittens and sweaters, with surprising ease.
To strictly follow a knitting pattern - not a task for Eileen. „I can never just copy a given pattern. Like many Faroese, I feel the urgent need to modify it. If necessary, I’ll also add colors.“ With Bindifestivalurin í Fuglafirði, Eileen and her fellow campaigner Steintóra Nesá definitely add color – to the further development of knitting culture on the Faroe Islands, to Fuglafjørður, a village of 1500 souls on Eysturoy’s east coast, and to low-impact tourism.
240 of this year’s attendees were locals, 160 women came from abroad; Canada, the US, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. Concerning attendance numbers, there’s some room for improvement, but figures are not supposed to go sky high – a significant growth would surely interfere with the festival’s spirit.
Bindifestivalurin í Fuglafirði 2017: What’s the plan? Eileen has all the details: „Once again, the festival will offer workshops in private living rooms, but at various hours of the day – morning, afternoon and evening. We will also provide knitting in cafés, lectures, tours, music, evening entertainment and accommodation in local homes. All events will be held in Faroese or Nordic languages. In case you are not familiar with those languages, you can still participate. Most of the time, someone who is able to translate at least into English will be around.“
Reconsidering the table full of knitwear we are sitting at, looking at this appealing wool-mountain, composed of shawls and sleeves, wool balls and knitting needles, while, in the meantime, recalling all the difficulties that go with organizing a festival, I am curious about Eileen’s life motto. A smile glides along knitting stitches and boatmen-sweater-patterns: „I stick to Pippi Långstrump“, Eileen says. „Like: I’ve never tried that before. Therefore, I’m sure I know how to do it.“