My first TV ad!

‘Use Your Head’ Home Energy Ad’

Back in November I was approached by Edinburgh advertising agency ‘Story’ who asked if I could – and I quote – ” do a bit of knitting” for an ad campaign for the Scottish Government. Having had some previous experience of knitting for the creative industries and been told they needed only a bobble hat and a knitted telephone I thought, ‘I can knock those up in no time’….oh how I was wrong.

The purpose of the ad was to communicate the importance of insulating a house in order to conserve heat and therefore save energy. The simplest way to convey this concept was for a hat to seemingly knit itself over a house in the midst of Winter which of course means snow; luckily we’ve had no shortage of that lately.

It’s definitely accurate to say that the scale of the job ‘snowballed’  ( pun intended ) as it was vital we had enough knitted props produced and accurately scaled for everything to work in the final edit. AND as is always the case with advertising, everything needs to be finished ‘yesterday’ so in just over a week I managed to rattle off:

  • 1 x bobble hat knitted in the round of normal head size
  • 1 x bobble hat to fit the scale model of the house; 140cm circumference 350 sts wide and nearly 200 rounds long. ( I referred to it on Twitter as the #uncommonlylargestripedbeanie )
  • 2 x  fully fashioned old style BT telephones
  • 1 x 10 digit phone number.

So the morning of the shoot I awoke at 5.30 am and, with producer Ray, set off for a freezing cold Glasgow  where the ad was being filmed. Luckily I had donned every thermal layer I own because the next 18 hours were spent in a large, baltically cold  studio attending to the sort of tiny detail that’s given me a new respect for exactly how long and how many people it takes to create a piece of work that’s reduced down to a mere 30 seconds. Most of those people thought it VERY strange that I knitted for a living, in fact many of them thought it strange that anyone knitted at all.

It’s fair to say that it is easily the weirdest job I have ever undertaken. As hand knitters we carefully choose our yarn, select precisely the right size of needle and watch every row and stitch for any slight wobbles in tension or unintended holes. At the end of the making process, carefully blocked and pressed, the finished item is either lovingly worn or proudly handed over to the lucky recipient. In this case after 10 days of manic knitting, cursing and hunching over, the props were taken in the back of a VW Polo to Glasgow, stuck in place with Spray Mount and then, row by row, cut, unravelled and reduced to a pile of colourful spaghetti, all of it captured frame by frame on film.

The ad will be airing in Scotland from January 5th but if you’re not lucky enough to live in Bonnie Scotland you can see the full version below. For more behind the scenes pictures head over to my Facebook page here