Last year the Tour de France cycle race stages that happened in the UK brought massive enthusiasm and community spirit to small towns across the country. This year the annual Tour of Britain is making its way through my home town and we are seeing a similar reaction from the community.
Once the dates and route were published there was a team of enthusiasts organised to generate some displays and activities to put our town on the map. I say town, we are indefinable really – too large for a village but not really a town. Over the years the area has grown to a point that some of the older residents don’t recognise it as the village community it used to be. There are those that will inevitably drum down some of the efforts made by local groups by stating that ‘there is no community spirit any more’ well I have always disagreed with these type of comments and this Tour of Britain event is definitely proving me correct!
For the last few weeks there has been a steady stream of yellow cycles being installed along what will be the route of the Tour. They are old bikes, unloved and battered but they are now seeing a new life – loved and enjoyed by entertaining the visitors and residents with their quirky positions on walls, in flower beds and parked against fences. As business owners we have been encouraged to decorate our windows. Yellow themes and more cycles seem to be popular so we sat down here at Oh Sew Crafty and got our thinking hats on. Several cups of tea later we came up with a plan!
As a craft shop our window needed to reflect our whole mission. Of course – the only option was to be a little bit crafty with our window… after a small appeal for some extra help we embarked on our project. Whatever our volunteers could provide; knitted pieces, crochet pieces or even some spare odds and ends of wool…have you guessed yet? What a reaction we have had – lots of volunteers came forward to help. We cracked on with our project for about a week, then we needed a little meeting to reflect on our efforts so far… When we checked the box of items we were a little bit amazed! This calls for an extended ‘covert’ mission as part of the project!
We spent last Saturday in the shop checking the progress and adding to the stash of woolly pieces. As we worked away and customers came into the shop they were fascinated – in fact we gained a few more volunteers along the way. The response has been amazing – I still maintain that there is a deep community spirit in our town. We spent last Thursday adding the first part of the project to the shop window. There is also some knitted bunting and crochet flower garlands in the window. What a reaction we have had to this! It has been lovely to have people pop into the shop and tell us how much they love the bike. One little boy needed to come into the shop just to check it was a real bike! I have seen people cross over the road just to have a closer look – it feels really good to get a happy and positive response.
– and so to our ‘covert’ mission… well we cannot say too much at this stage but suffice to say it involves yarn, volunteers and a bright moon!!!!
We are in the middle of the glorious English summer right now… I promise!! The children have had a few weeks off school and the parents and grandparents are already counting down to the return in September. The weather has not been at its best so far but the memories of good holidays do not rely on just good weather, surely! Here at Oh Sew Crafty we have seen a lot of children getting crafty things organised to take on their holidays – its lovely.
For these school holidays we have organised a whole plethora of crafty activities that are being enjoyed by the local community. Some of the activities need only a little imagination and hopefully the children will take ideas away and create some activities for themselves when the weather turns bad. With the weather being so changeable it has been very important for those groups of children to have activities to keep them occupied but I have often worried about the prescriptive nature of so many activities…and therein is the debate!
Do we need to keep our children SO organised, can they develop their own activities, do they not have imagination? I think that as parents and carers we are a little frightened to allow them to be creative. Everything today has to be completed with such accuracy its scary…. where is the creativity? One of my favourite sayings with the young crafters is ‘there is no such thing as getting it wrong in craft – it is just redesigning!’. If only life was so simple…
We introduced a Knit and Natter session for the young crafters this summer. They have been learning to knit at school and we thought it would be nice to keep the skills ticking over whilst they are on holiday. On top of that the adults have a Knit and Knatter so why not the children? SO instead of coffee and cakes we have juice and fab biscuits. The chairs are pulled up around the table in the shop and the parents/grandparents get a couple of hours to get their shopping done – and it works! There is no real structure, they just bring along their knitting project and crack on with it. I am there to help them if they drop a stitch or gain too many…. The conversations are hilarious – I love the child aspect to the way they see the world. It is lovely to hear them chat about things they consider to be important – no moaning about politics or the price of bread. No debate over the best way to cast on or off – or even the colour of buttons to use. They have much more important things to discuss… the lack of after school clubs through the holidays as they love going to them so much. The new class that they are entering and the new teacher that they are encountering. Life is good. If you could see them, clicking their needles and tutting over dropped stitches. They are influenced so much by the adults around them. They try so hard to be like us – children are like little sponges and take all sorts of gems of memories around in their heads. I would suggest that all adults should spend time with children and listen to what they have to say – it is enlightening!
And there are the seeds of memories about a long crafty summer, looking back will they remember what the weather was doing? I doubt it… they will chuckle and remember being able to chat, socialise with freedom and creativity, on their terms…