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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 13:18 GMT
Knitting casts off its old image
Woman knitting sent by Victoria and Albert Museum
Music will help to inspire the knitters
A group of knitters is helping to make the traditional past-time more trendy after offering free wool and needles to new recruits.

Cast Off encourages people to pick up their needles wherever they are - even in pubs, nightclubs or on the Tube.

Rachael Matthews, 29, who set up the group said: "It's also a great way of meeting people and relieving stress."

Cast Off is running activities at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London, on Friday night.

Ms Matthews, a textile designer and teacher from Limehouse in east London, started the group with her friend in 2001 while knitting in a pub.

After realising the level of interest in the craft they nurtured it by handing out free needles and wool and now have more than 700 members.

The group meets at various locations and creates more unusual items such as lipsticks and cigarettes for a night out as well as hand grenades and missiles.

Although celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz and Madonna are also converts to the pastime, Miss Matthews says she does not care whether knitting is fashionable.

'Creative challenge'

She said: "It's great that they are knitting but their reasons for doing it are probably quite different.

"We are about taking it out there and challenging the ideas of how you can be creative."

At the V&A there will be a talk about the history of wool and knitting accompanied by music performed on the knitting needles.

There will also be the chance to make pom poms in the William Room and create crochet spider webs in the grand dome.

Enthusiasts can also test their skills against the world's fastest knitter Wendy Moorby from Yorkshire.

Knitting firm Sirdar is sponsoring the event at the Victoria and Albert Museum which runs from 1830 GMT until 2200 GMT on Friday.

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