Purl jam: Finland hosts heavy metal knitting championship

The competitors of the first Heavy Metal Knitting world championship react on stage, Thursday, July 11, 2019 in Joensuu, Finland. With stage names such as ‘Woolfumes,’ ‘Bunny Bandit’ and ‘9” Needles,’ the goal was quite simple: to showcase their knitting skills whilst dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
The Japanese team Giga Body Metal react with the trophy after being crowned Heavy Metal Knitting world champions with a show featuring crazy sumo wrestlers and team-leader Manabu Kaneko dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono knitting, Thursday, July 11, 2019 in Joensuu, Finland. With stage names such as ‘Woolfumes,’ ‘Bunny Bandit’ and ‘9” Needles,’ the goal was quite simple: to showcase their knitting skills whilst dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
The Japanese team Giga Body Metal perform in the Heavy Metal Knitting world champions with a show featuring crazy sumo wrestlers and team leader Manabu Kaneko dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono knitting , Thursday, July 11, 2019 in Joensuu, Finland. With stage names such as ‘Woolfumes,’ ‘Bunny Bandit’ and ‘9” Needles,’ the goal was quite simple: to showcase their knitting skills whilst dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Armed with needles and a yarn of wool, Natalia from Russia competes on stage in the heavy metal knitting world championship, Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019 in Joensuu, Finland. With stage names such as ‘Woolfumes,’ ‘Bunny Bandit’ and ‘9” Needles,’ the goal was quite simple: to showcase their knitting skills whilst dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Armed with needles and a yarn of wool, teams of avid knitters danced Thursday 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 PhD student who travelled from Scotland for a shot at the “world title.” ”When I saw there was a combination of heavy metal and knitting, I thought ‘that’s my niche.’”

The competition took place in a packed square in the small town of Joensuu close to the Russian border. An eclectic group of around 200 people watched the performances, from families with young children and elderly to the less conspicuous heavy metal fans donning leather-jackets and swirling their long hair to the fast-paced rhythm of the music.

A niche musical genre in many countries, heavy metal is more mainstream in Finland, with several bands household names frequently played on the radio. Its popularity grew further in 2006 when the Finnish band Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest dressed as monsters.

ALSO READ: Bolivian women knit themselves to prosperity

Today, Finland has the highest number of heavy metal bands per capita in the world with over 50 bands per 100,000 people. Even former U.S. President Barack Obama commented on this rich tradition while welcoming his Finnish counterpart to the White House in 2016.

“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 people judging the competition.

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 goofing around and making the most of the long summer nights in these northern latitudes.

“We have such dark and long winters,” said Mari Karjalainen, one of the founders of the event. “This really gives us lots of time to plan for our short summers and come up with silly ideas.”

Thursday’s competition saw participants from nine countries, including the United States, Japan, and Russia, put on inspired performances full of theatrics, passion and drama and the jury struggled to agree upon a winner.

Finally, it was a Japanese performance by the five-person Giga Body Metal team that clinched the title with a show featuring crazy sumo wrestlers and a man dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono.

“It’s a great release,” said Elise Schut, a 35-year-old nurse from Michigan who performed with her 71-year-old mother and 64-year-old family friend, Beth Everson, who added that “knitting is such a meditative activity but now it’s energetic and heart pumping.”

After the success and fun of this first championship, the organizers announced they would repeat it next summer, adding Heavy Metal Knitting to the already long list of weird and yet hilarious Finland summer gatherings.

David Keyton, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

$4 million federal grant to Lytton group will strengthen fibre optic network

Fibre optic backbone will stretch from Boston Bar to Lillooet

Young Coquitlam author’s third book set during 2017 wildfires

Nathan McTaggart, 13, was in Cache Creek and Ashcroft to share his story

Local principal a finalist in Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education

Colleen Minnabarriet of Desert Sands Community School nominated in District Leadership category

Local News Briefs: The Community Barbecue returns to Ashcroft, and this year there’s a twist

Plus free swimming at the Ashcroft pool, Coqiuhalla lane closures, ‘Arx and Sparks’, and more

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

Canadian national softball team wins second straight Canada Cup

Team Canada defeats Texas-based Scrapyard International in gold-medal game Sunday in Surrey

June sees drop in home sales, prices for real estate across B.C.: report

Sales dropped by 11.8%, while prices fell by 4%

Vehicle fire closes Highway 1 west of Chase

Highway 97 is being suggested as a detour around the accident.

Video captures driver narrowly avoiding hitting Granfondo cyclists in Okanagan

“I’m just glad that everything aligned enough and no one got hurt,” said Shaun Siebert

Canadian officials flagged 900 food items from China with ‘problems’ over 2 years

The scrutiny of agricultural goods has been central to a diplomatic dispute between Canada and China

Gasoline companies to speak at public inquiry into B.C. pump prices

Premier John Horgan ordered the inquiry in May when prices at the pump reached $1.70 a litre

Most Read