The ‘other side’ is looming!

Hello everyone
I hope that you are all well and have been able to reach this point in the Pandemic relatively unscathed. I think it has affected us all in one form or another, its a very strange time. So now it is time to plan the final expedition- back to some sort of normal. The aim is that we will be able to re-open on June 15th. We have all our fingers crossed that this stays on target.
We have been busy behind the scenes with the Ebay shop and local orders etc and I cannot thank you all enough for the support we have had. Over the last 3 months we have been able to provide 6 care homes with some form of PPE (masks, bags etc); 3 hospitals with the same sort of items; Clitheroe District Nurses; both the local Doctors surgeries; a Veterinary surgery; Clitheroe Ambulance teams; local vulnerable people …. so well done all volunteer stitchers and crafters you are amazing!!!
Along with the PPE we have run out 4 biro pens, used a ream of paper for orderslips, used up 4 rolls of brown paper, cannot tell you how much I have spent in postage – oh and that is another well done…our local Post Office must be on their knees… they have worked like Trojans! I think we have supplied most of Wales and an awful lot of parts of the rest of the UK with interfacing and bias binding in order that they all can make their PPE contributions. We have contributed heavily to the national shortage of elastic, overlocking thread and navy blue cotton fabric!  All this has made sure we have ticked along quite well and we are now ready to emerge from the

crochet pillow
First project in crochet

cocoon of ‘lockdown’ in a strong position.

I did hope that over the last 3 months I would have the time to work on this website and to get my online shop working etc… alas no – but in a good way; we have been so busy with Ebay orders its been impossible to get everything done. What has been lovely to see is the amount of projects my customers have been able to complete or even actually start to make! Several of our customers learned new crafts and even taught their children some new crafts.
All in all this is a good news message and we hope to see you all very soon.

Crafting in the Community – Part 2

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creepy crawlies

Following our fantastic ‘covert’ mission in September, when we painted our small town with yarn as part of the Tour of Britain race making its way through our main street, there has been a slight expectation from the community that we would make things appear again!

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The group of volunteers , now affectionately named the ‘Nutty Knitters’ by a member of the public, have been busy once again. In readiness for a spooky Saturday evening we created a creepy atmosphere by installing a number of webs and ghosts around the main street. One of our local supermarkets even donated some of their distinctly coloured carrier bags for us to make waterproof knitted items… pumpkin bunting, pompoms and lamp post covers were very popular with the younger audience. Spiders webs were hung from signposts and bus stops as well as a very large one covering the side of the telephone box.

The public have once again loved the installations – the messages of thanks on social media and in the shop are gratefully received and passed on to the group.

Let me tell you about our little group of volunteers – there is a wide age range of members from our junior knit and natter group right through to some elderly relatives of my customers. The juniors are learning their craft but they have loved being part of the team. There is a lot of excitement when they can show members of their family which bits they knitted. There are members of the team with a lot of experience with their crafts of crochet and knitting and they do a great job of coming up with ideas to install. The older members of our team don’t always see the fruits of their labour but they are very happy to have some knitting or crochet to do which keeps them entertained and occupied. The team also has some young adults that are enthusiastic and motivated with developing their knitting skills and love the installations and the group dynamics – it appears that they are learning lots along the way as well.

Woolly Project
  Planning meeting

If a community project like this can generate so much great feeling then it must be encouraged. Even the winter months can be cheered with a bit of wool… There is definately a feeling of expectation now from the residents of the town; so we are now planning the next event. Hmmmm wonder what that could be?

 

Crafting in the Community – Part 1

Yellow Bike
Longridge does Tour of Britain

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!

Flower Bike
Longridge Does Tour of Britain

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!

Woolly Project
Planning meeting

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!

Woolly Bike
Oh Sew Crafty

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!!!!

Crafting Mends the Soul…

cropped-img_2109.jpgI don’t know about any of you, but I know I have times when I would love the world to stop so I could get off for just a wee while. I am a very busy person by my nature, I cannot just sit down, I detest having nothing to do and I love being able to potter around creating crafty masterpieces (not that I ever really achieve the latter very often). Even when sitting in boring meetings I have doodled my agenda in the most fascinating ways. Recently someone created the ‘Zentangle’ phenomena that has made colouring and doodling a fun activity for adults and children alike. Art therapy is now widely recognised as having major benefits to illness recovery.

I remember being in hospital when I was about 10 years old (a very long time ago) and the most awful thing was the boredom – but the best time was when we went to ‘school’. This was a room in the ward where a teacher was employed to work with us. It wasn’t like school really – we did a lot of drawing and painting and making of things. My crafty recovery carried on when I left hospital and I spent time with a family friend who taught me to crochet. Over my month of rehab I became very proficient at making glitzy skull caps! (Well it was the 70’s!).

I have many customers that call into the shop for craft kits or project resources when they are about to set off IMG_2110on holiday. The rest, the peace and quiet, the time to absorb themselves in a craft means they feel refreshed and revitalised when they return. There are those that search for a craft for someone else to do whilst they are laid up with illness or injury. So many times people turn to craft for their therapy and this makes me think that we all have a need to be creative or constructive at times. Why is this? I know there is a great sense of achievement when that project is completed. I know that a knitting or crochet project allows for some thinking time whilst wielding the pins or hooks. I know that most crafts can be achieved whilst relatively immobile. Is this just twitchy fingers or is there something that our soul needs?

There are many quotes out there that suggest this is an age old state of mind…

“Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied.”  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

  • Sewing mends the soul
  • Stitch your stress away
  • May your bobbin always be full
  • Any day spent sewing is a good day

All of these are credited to the ‘Unknown Author‘ but how right they are!

How about this one? – “The innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care…”
~William Shakespeare (was he a crafter?)

I have a customer that has had a rough time with illness over the last 18 months but all through this time she has had her crafting skills to see her through. She has managed to knit, sew, crochet and other crafts even at the most tiring time of the treatments and it has helped her to mend. This week I had a young customer in with his mum, he was suffering with a rotten bug and was quite weary. Obviously school was not going to feature in his day but he still wanted to do something (I don’t think he was old enough to have caught man-flu!). He settled on creating something with felt and bright stranded threads, and of course the googly eyes.

So from this I have to extend my intended thoughts to the whole craft world and not just the sewing world. Quite definitely, Crafting mends the soul….

 

 

To Inspire…

PHD 2Before I opened my little crafty store I used to shop in other ‘little’ stores to get my inspiration. I would browse, chat, explore the products, ask questions and generally try very hard to glean a little idea then I could develop it at home. The problems occur once it has gone wrong!

All this happened before the arrival of Social Media and its lovely, almost endless, supply of ideas. Today we can visit Pinterest, Facebook and even look at the websites of micro businesses that Tweet their web details to us via Twitter. We share via Instagram and Google+. Whilst my background as an IT teacher would welcome that situation I have always felt that I had a grounded attitude to the IT world. On a number of occasions my class would debate ‘bricks & clicks’. Often the outcome has been that there is a place for all aspects of communications in the world.

As custom in my shop has increased I hear more comments from customers that show me they love to communicate face to face. Crafters love to see, touch and feel the results of several hours creative work. I find myself still encouraging people to have an exploration of the Pinterest pages etc but then so do I. I do so love to see the ideas that I could never find just by looking in the shops. What we seem to be achieving is a balance between the two worlds. The opportunity to share inspiration both physically in our workshops and virtually in the social media world.

This weekend we have had our regular Projects Half Done (PHD) workshop. It was a full session with 8 lovely crafters bringing in projects that are not finished for one reason or another. Some of these people are regular attenders at what is a crafty version of a ‘Knit & Knatter’, some of them were new. At the time the ‘regulars’ were the new people there were similar statements made about the projects – “I must get this finished”,  “I started this when my child was small – now an adult” and even “No idea where to start to get this finished”. You don’t always find the answers to these statements on social media.

phd 1

This week of our new attendees we had a retired lady that had just had a go at knitting a jumper for the first time in quite a number of years and a lady that had mentioned she had a tapestry that she had found that was around 25 years old and that she decided she should really complete. As the afternoon developed I loved listening to the chat and the stories that the group work their way through – whilst sipping tea and munching delicious cake. One of the most ‘profound’ comments came from our retired lady – ” I cannot remember the last time that I talked as much as this!” …and there we have it! The art of conversation, the ability to communicate and the desire to share… both the new visitors decided that they were now ‘inspired’ to carry on with their projects and that they would be finding another PHD ready for next month!

Inspiration is a wonderful thing….

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