Purl jam: Contest ties heavy metal, knitting
JOENSUU, Finland — Armed with needles and a yarn of wool, teams of avid knitters danced to the deafening sounds of drums beating and guitars slashing at the first-ever Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship in eastern Finland.
With stage names such as Woolfumes, Bunny Bandit and 9” Needles, the participants shared a simple goal: to showcase their knitting skills while dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible.
“It’s ridiculous, but it’s so much fun,” said Heather McLaren, an engineering Ph.D. student who traveled from Scotland for a shot at the “world title.”
The competition took place last week in a packed square in the small town of Joensuu close to the Russian border.
A niche musical genre in many countries, heavy metal is more mainstream in Finland, with several bands household names frequently played on the radio.
Today, Finland has the highest number of heavy metal bands per capita in the world with over 50 bands per 100,000 people.
“In Finland it’s very dark in the wintertime, so maybe it’s in our roots. We’re a bit melancholic, like the rhythm,” said Mark Pyykkonen, one of three competition judges.
While combining heavy metal music with knitting might not seem an obvious match, the organizers say it’s similar to other unusual events in Finland, such as world championships in air guitar, swamp soccer, and wife carrying — Finnish ways of making the most of the long summer nights in these northern latitudes.
The competition saw participants put on inspired performances.
But it was the five-person Giga Body Metal team from Japan that clinched the title with a show featuring crazy sumo wrestlers and a man dressed in a traditional kimono.
Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship competitors showcase needlework and dancing in Joensuu, Finland.