Bideford woman's latest knitting venture

MERMAIDS, crabs and octopus are among a host of strange items of post coming through the letterbox of a Bideford home. Created by supporters nationwide, and even from overseas, they are contributions towards the latest venture of knitter extraordinaire Al

MERMAIDS, crabs and octopus are among a host of strange items of post coming through the letterbox of a Bideford home.

Created by supporters nationwide, and even from overseas, they are contributions towards the latest venture of knitter extraordinaire Alison Murray and her family.

Alison hit the headlines in 2005 with a giant knitted Christmas tree and followed up two years later with a knitted gingerbread house.

Both launched in Bideford, they have since toured venues in the UK and overseas, raising the profile of knitting and around �35,000 for charity.


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Now Alison has called her network of knitters together again to create a watery world "Above and below the Waves" to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Her latest venture will take the form of an undersea tunnel, through which people can walk and be surrounded by sea creatures of all kinds. On the outside will be depicted the seaside world, including sandcastles, ice creams, lighthouses and lifeboats.

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As usual, everything will be knitted, by Alison, her mother Ann and their multitude of contributing enthusiasts. Early features include Sidney the bearded Lifeboatman, a six-foot mermaid, sandcastles, crabs, octopus, fish, whelks and colourful seabed blankets of corals and seaweeds.

An army of small knitted mermaids and lifeboatmen are also being assembled, to be sold to help the fund-raising effort.

Above and Below the Waves is due to be launched in 2010, with a deadline for knitted contributions being the end of this year.

Ann and her sister Rosie O'Callaghan were in London on Friday and Saturday to display the early stages of "Above and Below the Waves" and raise awareness at an I Knit exhibition at the Royal Horticultural Halls.

They also took with them autographed gingerbread men, which are part of the still touring gingerbread house creation. The little men carry cards bearing the autographs of such personalities as Joanna Lumley, Helen Mirren, Graham Norton, Lenny Henry, Todd Carty (on skates), Stephen Tomlinson (with lion) and are being auctioned to raise charity funds for the North Devon Hospice and Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital.

Meanwhile, Alison and her uncle John Garrad travelled out to Thailand at the weekend with the gingerbread house, which is to feature in a charity campaign there to get people knitting blankets to help keep needy village children warm in the cold winter.

She will carry the first blanket at the official launch ceremony and have her gingerbread house unveiled, before it goes on public exhibition.

Alison will be meeting the Thai royal family and the prime minister. She has knitted a silk brooch for the royal princess and a Newcastle United FC scarf for the prime minister, as he is an enthusiast.

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