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French knitter Ted Hanniford of Sittingbourne in battle for Guinness World Record with knitters from Laval in France

By Andy Gray

It’s a yarn which could needle the notoriously uneasy alliance between England and France.

For nearly 20 years, Sittingbourne pensioner Ted Hanniford has claimed to be the creator of the world’s longest piece of French knitting.

But his title appears to be under threat from across the Channel where residents claim to have outdone their Anglo counterpart.

Cllr Gareth Randall and Mayor Cllr Sue Gent begin the process of measuring Ted Hanniford's French knitting

People living in Laval, a town in western France, have spent nearly nine months spinning fabric to a length which they insist stands at 14 miles long.

Its community news letter boasted the record was due to be verified by officials last week.

But Ted, 74, of Cavell Way, is having none of it.

The grandad-of-12 said his French knitting is more than 18 miles long, having begun his homespun odyssey in 1985.

He said: “My wool indicator currently stands at 97,800ft, so I’m still the record holder.”

Ted’s wife, Rita, 66, was even more bullish, adding: “The French are not going to get anywhere with 14 miles.

“Ted does a mile a year so it’ll take them at least four years to catch up with what he’s on now.

Just some of Ted Hanniford's French knitting

“As far as I’m concerned, the French record is dead in the water - it’s a laugh.”

Ted said he set the original world record for the longest piece of French knitting - involving a spool to produce a narrow tube of fabric - in 1993.

He said his feat was mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records, and although his crown was snatched by an Australian in 1995, earlier this year he claimed to be “two or three miles” ahead of his Antipodean rival.

Former Mayor of Swale, Cllr Sue Gent and Cllr Gareth Randall, verified the yarn’s 18-mile length when they visited his address in February.

Rita said there’s little chance of Ted losing the honour a second time.

"There’s more chance of him giving up his beer and darts than giving up on his French knitting" - Rita Hanniford

“There’s more chance of him giving up his beer and darts than giving up on his French knitting,” she said.

The Hannifords said they were happy to meet their Gallic competitors to compare sizes.

In the meantime, she said it’ll be all hands to the spool for what could turn out to be a new chapter in Anglo/French rivalry.

The 100 Years War? Stand by for the 100 Years Wool.

Rita said: “We beat them at Waterloo and we’ll beat them at French knitting.”

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