Recently a queer knitting group was founded in Reykjavík by Sana Shaikh and her friend Anna Stína Gunnarsdóttir. On the group’s Facebook page they describe it as a hobby group for LGBTQIA and queer friendly people with an interest in knitting, crochet, quilting, embroidery, or basically any kind of craft. They meet twice a month at Cafe Babalú.
“This is a great group for socially awkward people,” says the founder Sana, who is originally from India, but moved to Iceland from the U.S. two years ago to study Icelandic and biochemistry. “There aren’t many LGBT groups here and the only choice was joining the choir or the sports club, and I’m not the super active socializing person, so I came up with the idea of putting together a knitting group.
Knitting is easy, it’s an excuse not to make eye contact, because you have to look at what you’re doing. I’m really a shy person. Most of the people in the group are too and the all like knitting and handicraft.
This is also a perfect group for families and it appeals to people who have an inner grandmother or grandfather and have no interest in staying up late at bars to meet other queer people.”
When Sana first moved here she says she felt that the queer community was very subtle.
“I was really surprised and wondered where all the queer people were. Did they all live in a cave somewhere,” she recalls. “I was aware of the different queer groups when I first came here, but I didn’t think that they were very visible. At least not in comparison of what I was used to in the US. There would be a lot more activity and organized events over there, so to me it just seems like the organizations here were a little lacking in that department. But it could also be due to the scale, considering Iceland is a tiny place.”
“This is also a perfect group for…people who have an inner grandmother or grandfather…”
The knitting group was founded a month ago and has 30 members so far. “The turnout has been pretty good, but we still want more people to join. They can bring whatever they’re working on and if someone wants to come and learn I provide lessons.
It’s common to start a project and then it sort of ends up under your bed and you never finish. This is a good opportunity to join the group twice a month and keep working on it and meet new people at the same time.”
It was in Iceland that Sana first had a change to manifest her gay identity. “I lived in Georgia and I knew I liked women but I was always half in the closet. My family is Asian and I used that as a cover up, and the whole idea that I should just concentrate on studying, and that relationships were just silly.
Here I feel free and I don’t have to worry about being accepted. Most of my friends are straight and don’t relate to what’s going on in my life. They are in committed relationships, when in the queer community that’s not pushed to happen so I sometimes feel out-of-place, a single gay flower in a field.
It’s good to be part of a group that you can relate to, a safe relaxing environment where you can feel secure.”
The knitting group meets the first and third Sunday every month at Cafe Babalú at Skólavörðustígur 22, in Reykjavík, at 2 PM. It’s mostly women that have showed up, but there are also a couple of men.
The knitting group has a Facebook page, “Hinsegin prjónaklúbbur” and everyone is welcome to join.
When asked why people should join, Sana’s answer is simple. “It’s awesome!”
The group meets the first and third Sunday every month. Anna Stína is pictured in the top right corner.