When former documentary maker May Linn Bang ('Maya') first moved from Norway to the UK there were just three knitting shops in London.
She and her husband used to joke that, if ever they needed a change of direction, she’d open one and in 2010 Maya did just that.
Now Knit with Attitude on Stoke Newington High Street is drawing together people from all parts of the community with regular in-store knit nights. The business, which used to share a premises with Of Cabbages & Kings for 10 years, just has expanded to fill the whole store and they’re well stocked for Christmas.
Maya said: “Knitting has been a life-long passion. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was four. Learning to knit then wasn’t like it is now – nowadays people learn from YouTube tutorials and knitting guides have been developed to make it easier. When I was a child in Norway, it was a family thing – my grandmother asked me what I wanted to knit, we went to the yarn shop bought a pattern and some yarn and she spent hours patiently teaching me and talking me through each stitch until we’d made a jumper.
“When I decided to open a yarn shop, my grandmother leant me the money I needed to get started. I came to London with three boxes of wool and started a stall at Spitalfields Market.”
Knit with Attitude sells beautiful ethically-produced, eco and sustainable yarn – free from animal cruelty. You can choose between traditional all UK made wool, to more exotic fibre blends like silk, yak and alpaca and more and the store has plenty of knitting tools and accessories.
Maya added: “Knitting works on so many levels – it’s creative and constructive because you’re doing something with your hands and can see the result, it has mental health benefits akin to meditating and it’s a great way to build community and connection with others.
“That connection has been core since we opened the shop. It’s a space for people to come together to create but it’s also a safe space for people who feel marginalised or excluded. People come to our knit nights and bring their own projects. There’s a £3 voluntary contribution for those that can.”
Asked if she misses film-making, Maya said: “I feel I do the same thing; I’ve just changed my media! I’m still telling the stories about environment, sub-culture and consumption.”
Maya’s small business has survived the banking crisis, Brexit, the Covid pandemic and more. When Of Cabbages and King relocated to Frome in Somerset, Maya decided to take on the whole space. She’s expanded her stock and has more space for events; including beginners’ knitting classes.