Janey Messina looks back to a column she wrote for the Oxford Times in 2013, celebrating one year of the Oxford Drunken Knitwits.
by Janey Messina
Soon after moving to Oxford, I started to write a column for the Oxford Times about being an American in Oxford. I had only just given birth to the Oxford Drunken Knitwits, and so it was just a matter of time until I started to write about my baby.
I thought I'd kick off the new blog with a throwback to a column I wrote in May 2013 in honour of the 1st birthday of ODK. It's fun to look back nearly 5 years knowing that the group has grown and evolved so much, spawning an international community of "nutcases" as I called us back then. It began...
"My name is Janey Messina, and I'm a knit-a-holic.
Let me back up.
Oxford can be isolating for those excluded from the college system, and when I moved to Oxford from the U.S. last March for a research position, I spent my first two months lonely and verging on depression. I wandered the streets, noticing all the new places I could be discovering if only I had someone to enjoy them with. I even occasionally went to a pub by myself just to leave the flat, bringing my knitting along so I’d be occupied.
May 2, 2012 -- the day I discovered Meetup -- was the day my life improved. The popularity of the site amongst Oxford locals was my first indication that I wasn’t the only person wandering aimlessly in the city of dreaming spires. But I found nothing specific that called out to me, so I decided to create a new group. And hence it was born, the Oxford Drunken Knitwits -- the most beautiful monster I have ever created. So now, one year later, this column goes out to my knitwits.
If you’ve read any of my past columns, you know I can find being an American an Oxford quite “challenging” at times, and I like to poke fun at its residents from time to time because of that (okay I concede that’s an understatement). But in all honesty, this bunch of nutcases I’ve brought together are some of the most amazing people I’ve known in my life. To be fair, most of them are not actually from Oxford, but it goes to show that when you look for something, it’s often out there.
In this case, what I was looking for were people who don’t take themselves so darn seriously all the time. As I’ve written in the past, I feel that life is too short to stop yourself from doing or saying what you’d really like. If we want to get together at a pub and have a laugh while knitting, why shouldn’t we? Just ask one of the over 100 knitwits to find out what a wonderful home ODK has become for those of us in Oxford who, well, don’t give a rat’s behind what everyone thinks of the fact that we’re knitting in a pub. In fact, we kind of love the attention.
While the creation of ODK was a spontaneous effort to make a few friends, we are now known to dominate a different pub or bar around Oxford every week with our laughter, our inanity, and most importantly -- our wool and needles. New and advanced knitters are welcome -- all ages, all genders. So if you think you’re one of us, find us online and join as we challenge the norm. Knitting isn’t just for grannies and introverts, and we defy that stereotype every Wednesday in a pub near you.
“Veniimus, bibimus, knitimus” – We came, we drank, we knit – and so can you."