It’s a pretty surreal sight: a ‘knitted’ town square smack in the middle of a traditional Andalucian pueblo blanco: Iznajar. Even more so as the village dates back to the 8th century, making it one of the earliest Arab settlements of the region, originally named Hins Ashar. Today life proceeds gently in a sea of dense olive groves. Better still, from its strategic hilltop site the restored Moorish castle now surveys a vast, rather dreamy lake or rather embalse (reservoir), created in the 1960s – but you wouldn’t guess. It even boasts an artificial beach and a rather smart hotel (below).
So it seems 260 of Iznajar’s female inhabitants spent all last winter having a good ole bonding gossip as they click-clacked their needles to create this avant garde knitted art installation. Here are some of the industrious ladies in a photo I borrowed from the official ‘urban knitting’ blog (here). Note the typically random products of the grocery shop, making it a short hop from shampoos to far more essential legs of jamon. Another pic shows a group crocheting madly in the marginally more salubrious setting of a shoe and handbag shop.
But art? in an olive-farming village? In fact the title La Re-vuelta Knitting contains a covert reference to a major uprising back in 1861, nicknamed the ‘revolt of bread and cheese’, when local farm workers, underpaid and underfed, stormed the HQ of Iznajar’s guardia civil. In this 21st century revuelta (revolt) the aim is more peaceful – all about social cohesion and reinforcing a sense of belonging and place.
Surrounding hamlets also contributed designs, specially conceived for, say, a tree-trunk, a bench, steps or a garbage-bin…while little crocheted doilies were stuck to walls and balustrades. So as a long-standing bastion of socialism, even during the current rule of Spain’s right-wing Partido Popular, Iznajar is clearly continuing the struggle using a good dose of creativity. Yay!
Some of the trees looked decidedly Christmassy, with crocheted squares dangling from their branches. One bench, a triumph of folk art, had a cushy knitted cover depicting classic white villages and of course flowers. Because around here they’re just potty about flowers – and pots. We’re in the province of Cordoba, and the month of May is high season for geraniums, pelagoniums et al. Iznajar, nearby Priego de Cordoba (below) and the provincial capital itself (Cordoba) are all blooming crazily – so get there fast before the summer heat soars and all that flower power wilts. The urban knitting incidentally ends this month, but will come again in an other re-vuelta.