“You can’t imagine the smiles I get”: Denise Salway knits The Hobbit!
On the eve of release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, we found out more about The Knitting Witch, Denise Salway, and her amazing Hobbit tributes!
“Oh, mum, you couldn’t knit me a Thorin?” asked Denise Salway’s daughter earlier this year.
The 50-year-old knitter from Bridgend in South Wales took up the challenge quite happily, and quickly produced the Hobbit’s king-under-the-mountain, who is played by Richard Armitage in The Hobbit saga. On her 50th birthday, her daughter convinced Stephen Hunter, who plays Bombur, to wish Denise a happy birthday.
“So I tweeted back and I said, ‘Oh, well I might be putting you in knitting next, for your kindness.’” Before long, she had a whole set, and her knitting was becoming well-known amongst the Hobbit stars. “The gentleman who plays Dwalin, Graham McTavish really favours my knitting - he put it on his Facebook page! They’ve been so generous.”
(Left to right) Adam Brown, Mark Hadlow and John Callen get to know their knitted counterparts!
After the dwarves came Bilbo, Gandalf, and finally, the crowning jewel: Smaug the dragon, who caught the attention of Hobbit fans across the world.
Amazingly, Denise knits all of her tributes without patterns to work from. “Literally, it’s in my head, I can see it while I knit. I just think ‘okay,’ and obviously I’ve got some techniques I use with the wool, and then I do a bit of embroidery on it as well.” In fact, it was only at the suggestion of a friend that she began noting down what she was doing to produce a pattern of her own. She laughs, “So if someone was interested in publishing I’d probably say yes – but I’d have to tidy it up a bit!”
Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, is the latest character to receive a knitted tribute
“The biggest problem for me is finding the right texture of wool I like to use,” she says, and laughs again. “Just in case you wanna put that out there as a sting for anyone! Because some people just use a solid colour all the time, but if you look at mine, I try to use different colours. For Smaug I tried to get the whole array of reds. And people say ‘No, we can’t get the texture right, you wouldn’t think yours are knitted.’ I get that over and over again.”
Smaug took the longest of all of Denise’s Hobbit knits
Despite knitting since she was 14, Denise assures us that it has all been a collaborative effort. ‘The Knitting Witch’ artwork for her Flickr and Twitter accounts was designed by a friend, and she insists that her new-found fame is all down to her daughter for requesting a knitted Thorin, and her husband for asking for the pair of socks that got her back into her old hobby in the first place.
“And another majorly important bit, is that I’ve got a severely disabled son. So I left my job years ago to be a full-time carer for him, and he sits and watches me while I knit. He’s a remarkable chap, so he gives me inspiration too.”
She says she is extremely grateful for all of the support she has received so far. “I’m really grateful, everyone’s been so nice about Smaug and things. It boosts me no end, you can’t imagine the smiles I get. And I’ve gotta say, Adam Brown, Graham McTavish, Mark Hadlow and John Callen, they have been fabulous. They were like ‘Oh my god, this is just hysterical!’ I was blown away by it.”
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