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!
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.
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?
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…
Before 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.
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!