Union's imaginative transcription of The Cottager's Evening

When Swindon members of Unison decided to celebrate National Poetry Day in October 2010 by producing a knitted poem, they found the perfect poem to use - one by Alfred Williams.

The knitted poem was the brainchild of Shelly Fleming, Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator for Unison, which represents members working for Swindon Borough Council - and she got to choose which poem would be knitted.

Shelly (pictured above) said the choice of poem was easy in the end.

"The theme of National Poetry Day was home," she said, "so I was determined to choose a local poet. Then I remembered reading The Cottager's Evening by Alfred Williams, and when I re-read it, I realised it would be perfect. It's a beautiful poem that says everything about what home is."

A team of 50 knitters, including a woman of 90 and two men, got to work in May 2010, producing 891 squares that built into a poem measuring about 15 feet square.

None of the knitters knew anything about which poem had been chosen until the finished poem was revealed at a special unveiling at Swindon Central Library. The event also featured readings by Swindon community poet Tony Hillier (pictured below) and Bluegate Poets, including Cristina Newton.

Society Secretary, Caroline Ockwell, was a guest at the unveiling. She said: "We were in on the secret, but only in the last few days. When Shelly told us she had chosen a poem by Alfred, it was a lovely surprise.

"The Cottager's Evening is often cited by Alfred's fans as a particular favourite, and we agree that it fits the theme of home perfectly - both because of its content and in the fact that it is by a local poet.

"So thank-you to Shelly for choosing it, and well done to all the people who worked on it. Alfred would be very proud, extremely flattered and overjoyed to see his poem 're-published' in such a creative way."

The knitted poem was too large to be hung in the library, so had to be unveiled by being unrolled on the floor, but was displayed properly for the first time Alfred Williams Heritage Festival at STEAM on Saturday, November 13 during this society's Alfred Williams Heritage Festival.

The pictures below are from the official unveiling of the poem at Swindon Central Library in October 2010.

Transcription and background of The Cottager's Evening