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!!!!

Inspiration, Activation, … Frustration…

I love to create something from nothing. In fact I love to create something from something else, something that was not intended to be what I would like it to become! Re-purposing fabric from clothing has been a small passion of mine for some time now. I could never be a serious patchworker so making quilts etc.. does not excite me however, creating an item of clothing or an accessory from something that had a different purpose is really fun. I am not patient enough to make sure all seams are the accurate and precise – I want to see the finished item!

If fabric is a little frayed or worn then it can bring a little character to your project. If you don’t have the correct thread – then contrast and compliment – make a feature of of the differences. It is lovely to add some embellishment using the buttons or belt loops of a pair of trousers or jeans. Use the old zips to make flowers or a top stitched feature. I am not patient enough to be careful to match completely the colours or patterns of fabrics – I just cannot wait to see the finished item!

Recently a friend of mine brought me a challenge. Her mum had been given a lovely tea-towel for Christmas but didn’t want to use it as it might spoil. It was a Fortnum & Mason linen tea-towel in a gorgeous green colour and just too nice to leave in a drawer. What to do…. what to do….IMG_20150122_132905

Action time, this tea-towel is going to regenerate into an apron! I had some similar colour fabric in my stash of used fabrics. I think it was part of a bedding set that never got used. I could add panels to the sides of the tea-towel and also across the top so that the correct shape could be achieved. I could also use some herringbone tape to create the ties and the neck strap. Here we go… remember – I am not that patient….

I set off with my scissors, seam ripper and pins. the bobbin was wound with thread that was pretty close to matching the fabric, in fact it couldn’t be better to be honest. Halfway through winding the bobbin it looked like I might run out of that colour, it was getting a bit thin on the spool (rummages desperately through the sewing box – unsuccessfully). Ah well,  I think there will be enough to finish the project (eternal optimist takes over the thought process at this point). IMG_20150122_132932

The seams of the tea-towel are taken apart using the seam ripper… oh dear. The print on the tea-towel is clearly not going to look good if I just do a normal seam, it is going to need to be a sealed seam, after all it is a Fortnum & Mason tea-towel! Slight change of plan coming on… French seams to be used. Will the thread last? Of course… optimism wobbles a little!

I plough through the task now – pinning, tacking, sewing. Shape the bib of the apron by removing a small amount of fabric from the edges of the tea-towel.

Things are looking really good – the apron is taking shape… I am getting very excited and cannot wait to see the finished item! Remember… I am not patient!IMG_20150122_132830

Alas the anticipation cascades into frustration as I drive the sewing machine down the final seam triumphantly, only to come crashing down when I realise that I have run out of thread… I cast a quick glance up at the bobbin on the top of the machine and see that it is dangerously close to being empty as well! What to do… what to do… then I realise that I have a shade of thread that is a little paler than the one I am using. Think…. well it is being used on the seam that is at the back. In fact it is being used on the ties! Actually – if anyone notices this is a different shade then they must be on their knees peering around the back of the wearer! Perspective returns – and breathe…

Job complete – very happy customer! IMG_20150122_133419

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