Inside The Aptly-Named Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship

We know what you're thinking, and the answer is, "No, we're not kidding." Metal music and knitting fit together like dill pickles on vanilla frosting, you might say. Metal evokes images of raging moshers headbanging in time with savage guitar riffs played by a shrieking dude who's bleeding from the eyes. Knitting reminds you of grandma's mildewed living room and unwrapped Werther's Originals in a glass jar on a doily. How do the two connect? Well strap in, because when strings and cloth combine, a whole lot of tired stereotypes are going to get shredded.

Perhaps UniKorn, contestant in 2022's Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship, can explain the whole thing to you. As Heavy Metal Knitting chronicles on YouTube, UniKorn's entry in the competition represented, "An epic battle of good and evil ... in pajamas." Or maybe you can ask Woolfumes, who described the contest as, "Scotland, France, and India unite for the most metallic knitting lesson ever." Or you could ask Yuki Redrock from Japan, but she wouldn't answer you because she's too busy playing a six-string bass while also knitting a little gray beanie.

Still don't get it? That's ok. The Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship has to be seen to be believed. And even then, you might not believe it. Welcoming contestants from around the globe, and held for the first time in 2019 in the most metal-friendly country on Earth, Finland, the Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship rocks the yarn, indeed. 

Needle meets pick on the stage of battle

It's actually a pretty simple concept once you get past the oddity of it all: knit in time with the beat. That's it. And even better, knit performatively. Headbang, dance, do a little jig, throw on a cape and bark at the moon — whatever. The Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship lays out how the competition operates. And make no mistake, it's an actual, judged, regulated, and rule-bound competition. The contest organizer is the equally aptly-named, Finland-based WTF Productions

Entrants to the Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship have to be at least 18 years old, make a one-minute entry video showcasing their on-tempo knitting acumen, and pass an internet-only qualification round. Then they can go to the finals in Joensuu, Finland, a cute little town in the region of North Karelia. Contestants are judged based on five criteria: "attitude," "originality," artistic impression," "knitting presentation," and how well their performance syncs with the year's metal track. This means that the competition provides the music, and each contestant syncs to the same song. 

The top three contestants get a prize mailed to them, and the winner gets a grand prize. Plus, all three get a trophy, as we can see on YouTube. No word on what the grand prize is, but if it's a custom needle-and-yarn-themed guitar, that would be pretty sweet. Otherwise, even a whole bunch of yarn would be good — that stuff can get expensive.  

String Thing's the thing in 2022

As Euronews overviews, the winner of 2022's Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship was British group String Thing. The jury explained, "The winning team pulled off a surprising and energetic show. Creativity was shown in many different forms –- from costumes to the using of space and stage. The show popped from the stage in the form of huge yarn balls and the audience was included to have fun with the artist." 

And if you doubt this reasoning, feel free to behold the utter, glorious madness of it all on YouTube. The winning performance, in keeping with the name of the act — String Thing — centered on a Sesame Street-like yarn monster. In the entrant's original video, the monster was knitting in the woods and chased down a jogger to offer him a cupcake. In the live performance on the day of the competition, the entrant flagged down five random people in Joensuu, Finland and asked them be backup performers on stage. It was truly a spectacle for the ages.

Past winners haven't been any slouches, either, as the Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship website shows. 2019's winner was GIGA BODY METAL (yes, all caps) from Japan, which featured two sumo dudes and a geisha. 2021's winner was Resurrection of the Knitting Witch from the Netherlands, featuring a surgical mask-wearing witch with black yarn for hair. 2020 was off because of COVID. And next year? Grab your knitting needles and thrash, thrash away.