Purl jam: Contest ties heavy metal, knit­ting

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By David Key­ton

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.

DAVID KEY­TON/AP

Heavy Metal Knit­ting World Cham­pi­onship com­peti­tors show­case needle­work and danc­ing in Joensuu, Finland.

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