Manchester artist and knitter Jim Giles created a giant scarf to wrap up his Ancoats home, Victoria Square in time for winter. The big wrap took place on Friday 18th October and saw all of the lovingly donated scarves stitched together to create the city’s longest ever scarf at 400m long.
Jim Giles is an 84-year-old artist and knitter, working and living in the bustling and historic Ancoats area of Manchester. Jim has worked with his hands all of his life, starting out as a photographic artist before he returned to the easel as a mature, 60-year-old art student in neighbouring Liverpool. Jim also recently graduated from The University of Salford with an MA in Contemporary Fine Art, which coincided with the idea for his community scarf project.
Jim is a regular knitter at the Mustard Tree charity centre opposite his home and you can often find him knitting his way around the city centre, from Piccadilly Gardens to St Ann's Square. His infectious love of knitting has already seen him featured by the Manchester Evening News, Manchester Art Gallery and the BBC. Keep scrolling to discover the whole story behind Jim's grand plan to create Manchester's longest scarf in his latest community-driven art installation.
The thoughts for the scarf project were stitched together in Jim's mind – like many good ideas – in the middle of the night. After attending his regular knitting group at the local Mustard Tree charity, and thinking about the warmth and security that his building provided for him, Jim decided that these two parts of his life could be perfectly captured through the comforting and protective qualities of a humble scarf.
Jim's home Victoria Square was the first municipal housing built in Manchester when it opened on Sherratt Street in 1894. Its first purpose was to help clear slum residencies in Manchester and it is now one of the most iconic buildings in Manchester's history, with a Grade 2 listing to its name. As well as now providing a unique home for around 170 residents, it has been used as a location for countless television and film productions – from Coronation Street and Life on Mars to Prime Suspect and Clocking Off.
Jim reached his target of 400m during October and all of the pieces were joined together temporarily so that the building could be lovingly wrapped by Jim and his army of volunteers on Friday 18th October. All of the colourful creations were then separated again for a charity scarf sale, with all proceeds and leftover scarves being donated to Prostate cancer UK and The British Red Cross.
“I love this building. It's been my home for eight years and kept me alive! I've chosen to do this project because the scarf captures all my feelings about this place – it symbolises and embodies warmth, comfort and security.”
It’s a Wrap
Thanks to all of the knitters, volunteers and Jim’s local community who played their part in making the big wrap a reality. The 400m of scarves have now been separated and are currently finding their way to new homes in time for the winter chill.
The Big Day
After all the years of knitting, planning and finger crossing for some sunshine, the big wrap took place on Friday 18th October and the scarf was rolled out and wrapped around Jim’s home, Victoria Square. Just like the colours and patterns that made up the scarf, a wonderful and diverse bunch of people turned out on the day and helped to make it all possible.
Jim's scarf project has already seen many people rediscover their love for knitting. Find your nearest group here or if you're already part of a club add your details here so fellow knitters can find you.
Thank you for adding your group details here and inspiring others to get out and get knitting. Once you've filled in this form your group will be added to our map.