Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A Christmas Crafty Coffee

Wow. Fully expecting to be just me and my youngest, I was both surprised and pleased to see a large table full of ACC folk when we arrived in Trago. My Little one got compliment after compliment on her outfit which left me feeling very smug indeed as we'd had a full blown row over her refusal to wear a hat atop her wet hair. I persuaded her into her (much requested, long owned, but unworn) black sparkly trilby and won the opportuity to prove that old addage, 'Mother knows best'.

So, mini me brought along her knitting bag and knitted more rows than her Mum who spent far too much time talking. We pulled crackers and wore the silly hats, shared the dodgy jokes and the kids played with the naff toys. I saw mostly knitting and chatting going on, but there was also a certain Mrs K who was simultaneously eating her way out of a hangover and attempting a cross stitch, most impressive.
A really good friend of mine who has moved to Grenwich to study jazz came in and joined us. Bizarrely, when Jilly came in, he got up to say 'Hi'. It was like some comedy sketch when we pointed at each other and said, 'how do YOU know Jilly?'. It turns out she is his godmother. Funny old world.
Celia popped in just as I was leaving, unwell herself, with recovering children but a poorly hubby, JUST to share that she did indeed finish the socks! Well done Celia.

The mood was high, there was a definite sense of anticipation for what lay ahead the next day (what with it being Christmas Eve) and a certain sense of calm before the storm. It was particularly lovely that both Crafty and Coffee were able to be in attendance, what's the betting I'll be going solo on my NYE crafting?
It was lovely to be able to wish Pip (Trago Lounge's manager) a personal 'happy Christmas' as he has been so wonderful in accommodating us over the past year (almost). Pip is the only member of original Trago staff who remains since the opening. We are getting used to the new faces, and they are certainly getting the hang of us which is fab.

We will be marking our first birthday next month, almost certainly with cake. I love birthdays, I always find them to be great times for reflection and ambition, like personal new years. Expect the birthday blog to be full of reflections and hopes for what ACC could have in store for the future.

For now though, I hope you all had a Christmas that suits the way you are and the way you like to celebrate. A Crafty Coffee, or at the very least Crafty, WILL meet on NYE, usual time and place.

See you soon lovelies.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Welcome to the World

Howdy all,

Sorry for the lack of blog last week, we had snow days so I didn't fancy the icy pavements + 2 miserable children making for a fun A Crafty Coffee session. That said, we did get a lot of crafting done at home so all was not lost. Oh, and I fitted my lardy backside into a roasting tin to go sledging so the snow worked out to be fun too.

This morning there were a few table's worth of crafters again. Some of us are making Christmas gifts and Lisa very kindly blanket stitched two of the decorations I am making for a friend while I finished off a hat for my brother-in-law.

Apparently Celia has made one whole sock now, so I decided to insult her again by saying she'd never have them both done in time for Christmas. That ought to get her shifting.
Coffee (Emma) is on blanket squares, as is Ali. Isobel appeared to be crafting conversation, Karen ... I didn't notice because I was far to busy admiring her strawberry tea cosy! Carol finished off a knitted dinosaur which Liv's little K took quite a shine to, Liv was working on another mega scarf (when she should really have been sewing ribbon onto the tree decorations she started in January), Lisa on a crocheted scarf, and a few others were beavering away on projects that I failed to observe. Chantal popped over for a quick natter before getting to 'work' over in another area of the Lounge, they had a home-workers group in this morning as well as us lot.

After a while, a full mug of coffee drained, and a few rows of hat completed, Priya came in with baby Kezia (5 weeks).
Kezia is a tiny dot of a baby (6lbs 6oz), she is utterly gorgeous with loads of hair and her Mum is looking absolutely amazing. Motherhood seems to suit Priya and, even with a difficult start to the whole feeding routine, she appears to be very grounded in her role and very able to shrug off the well meaning advice of others in order to do what's best for her and her family.
It was such a pleasure to welcome Kezia today, and even lovelier that she and Priya sat with Alison who was knitting a 'daddy bear' for her little girl with only four weeks to go until her second baby is due to make an appearance.

I do hope this post makes some degree of sense?
I am sat here freezing in my front room, not daring to put on the heating for just me, and struggling to concentate ... whoops.

Anyway, I will try to add some pics of my latest items, and hopefully those of other ACC members next week.

Love to you all.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ta-rah November

When next we meet, it will be December. This time of year tends to be a heady mix for people. For many it is a time of anticipation of a well earned break, some quality family time and fun and frolics over the Christmas holiday while for others it can be a pretty bleak time of dread and despair over family fallouts, or an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. However the advent period feels for members of A Crafty Coffee, we want you all to feel welcome and loved and able to come and share.

With that in mind, we'd like you all to know that we are planning to meet on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Clearly we expect very depleted numbers, but even if I (Crafty) sit and knit alone, I will treasure two hours of relative peace in what I anticipate to be a somewhat hectic schedule.

Back to the Friday we just had. I woke up with such a bad headache that it was making me feel sick so I dosed myself up and rocked up an hour late. I know I say it every time I turn up late, but I am not sure I can restate this enough ... listening to the hum of chatter that comes from the area of Trago that A Crafty Coffee occupies, while you stand at the bar ordering your peppermint tea, is so pleasing and satisfying. It is a comforting sound and for me, it really makes the effort of 'making the group happen' 100% worthwhile.

I didn't properly take in who was there, one of the first things I did notice was that Sarah was back! Woo Hoo, welcome back Sarah. I could see that she was still struggling with the tiredness but she assured me that she was coping well painwise. ME is a really difficult condition and I think that listening to your body is sound advice for any of us, ME or not.
So Sarah was knitting and chatting with Sue A, the long table was FULL of people (I don't know who though - sorry) and I plopped myself down next to Dee H and Thaya. Dee is counting down the days to her 6 week Caribbean break, Thaya is quietly counting down the weeks until she emigrates to NZ, Ali is counting down the weeks until she has a fully functioning, sparkly, new kitchen, and I sat quietly with my thoughts and my knitting.

***I MUST take this opportunity to apologise to Celia, I think.***
Last post I described her sock project as 'rather brave'. I did this on the basis that she said she was no sock knitting professional, that she has previously knitted one and a half pairs of socks and that these ones were going to be a Christmas gift for her father so she wanted them to be spot on (hence the gauge square). This week, spurred on by my comment, Celia had quite a length of beautiful sock on teeny tiny dpns to show off. I think I may 'insult' people more often if they rise to the challenge this successfully.

I am knitting a hat for my youngest at her request and to her exacting specifications. I am knitting it in the round and was on dpns until Ali pulled out her circular and persuaded me onto it. I won't use circular needles for a small garment again as it is really quite hard work and I need to go back to dpns for the decreases anyway. Nonetheless, it is another string to my bow.

Eddie and Cecile were back again, I can't wait to put their skills and knowledge to good use, along with those of Isobel and Karen and many others within the group who make excellent teachers because they love to share what they have learned themselves. Isobel was seen dishing out gold stars to people who had gone away and done their crochet 'homework'. I am really looking forward to learning to crochet under Isobel's expert tuition in the new year.

Last night saw an event for 100 ladies co-run by A Crafty Coffee and a group called Women@8. It was called A Handcrafted Christmas and was an opportunity to see craft demonstrations, try and buy handicrafts as well as socialising over a mince pie and a lovely glass of mulled wine. I was unable to be there but popped in to give Coffee the float for our stall, I was SO impressed with how the place looked and would love to be involved next time, perhaps roping in some of the wonderful crafters I have mentioned above.

Anyway, enough from me for now, I believe Coffee has a proper William Update blog post planned for you so I shall leave that to her.

Have a fun week and see you IN DECEMBER!!!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Progress and frogging.

Hello peeps,

Last week I spent my time at A Crafty Coffee blogging about the sale the week before. This means that I omitted to tell you all about Eddie and Cecile who have joined us. Eddie has a couple of blogs that I've added to the 'blogs we like' list, and they are a proper crafty pair. Cecile increased my Ravelry knowledge and usage in a few easy steps and Eddie has opened my eyes to the world of dying with berries. How lovely then, that they returned this week with their knitting and spinning and great conversation.

This morning I was running late, in a terrible mood as I had forgotten my knitting bag and generally in need of some quality time and company. What a lucky girl I am, I managed to nip home for the knitting bag, get a parking space out the back of Trago Lounge and be only the third attendee to arrive! Jilly and Maryam (sp?) were debating on whether they were likely to be the only crafters there today, but over time the group grew to its usual number of around 15-20 people. Maryam is piecing together the lovely aran jumper she started 15 years ago ... yep, that's what I call a WiP! Jilly is crocheting a border on the granny square cushion cover that we all interfered with a few weeks ago.

I am writing a pattern for some wrist warmers on two needles. I do now know how to knit in-the-round but I find that I prefer stripes knitted flat and seamed as they match up better. Mind you, my finishing leaves a lot to be desired but that will come in time.
After the buzz of the sale, I picked up my knitting sticks pretty quickly to finish the scarf that didn't quite make it thinking that it was like coming off a bike, and that if I didn't get back to it quickly I may never knit again. Excitingly, I posted a picture of the finished scarf on Facebook and was made an offer for it of £30! I was terribly upset to part with it, but to be able to add that to the total more than made up for it.

I was also commissioned to make two more of the aprons that I made for the sale, so that netted another £20! And that is the reason for the pattern writing, a friend who could not make the sale has ordered a pair of wristwarmers for her eldest and how can I not oblige when we stand to take our total even higher?

Now, back to this morning. It was simply lovely to have Isobel back with us. She is back for a while now but was away working on a huge local history research project for Remembrance Sunday. Anna was chuffed to see her as it meant she could pick her brains on the advent calendar she is whipping up for Naomi. Karen and Penny were in the corner on the newly rearranged seats, Marion and Ruth were with us, Celia was knitting a gauge square for a rather brave sock project, and then, some distance away there was Coffee (Emma), her Mum, Lesley and a couple of others.
A lovely lady called Jo graced us with her presence, apparently she found us on Ravelry (hooray for Coffee knowing what she's doing on there) and it turns out she is a bit of a celebrity in the jewellery making and teaching world. We welcomed Jo with open arms as we do every new member to our fold, but she made a point of saying she felt so welcome and would come back next week. For me, this is proper heart warming stuff and just reinforces what the group is all about.

The new additions to the group and the large volume of work going on covers progress, but why have I given this post the title 'Progress and frogging'? Because sadly, everything I did today in terms of making up the left wristwarmer from my own pattern was frogged back into the ball ... because I didn't like the effect of the yarn I was using. I am such a yarn snob, it really irritates me. I am so determined to find a use for this lovely soft, bobbly yarn, it knits up to a really cool texture, but I don't know what kind of item the texture would be right on yet. It may be a good toy yarn?

Anyroad, enough of my blithering on for now. I am full of cold and flippin' miserable to boot so I shall leave you all for the week in the hope that you are well and happy and that bounce back to my usual self by then.

Love to you all,

PS, Just to update you on W, having said he'd got through all of his treatment without incident, last week he was admitted to hospital with an ear infection that his body can't fight off on its own yet, he is doing well, showing NO signs of being unwell and responding to the antibiotics. As far as I am aware he was coming home this afternoon.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Thank you THANK you THANK YOU!!!

Having gone to bed after 1am, knowing I was still awake at 2.30, waking properly at 6am and turfing myself out of my pit ... I showered, applied make-up and set off to collect Coffee for an early start at Trago Lounge.

A Crafty Coffee have been beavering away for some weeks now creating stunning, covetable items for us to sell. After a pricing session at Coffee's flat (which I will miss when they move) we knew to expect great things from the sale as we had about £650 worth of goods from only five donors.

Upon our arrival we were greeted with Pip's sunny smile and the challenge of rearranging heavy furniture to make the sale clearly visible from the door.
We were sweating buckets by the time the first of A Crafty Coffee's members arrived to help us.

Sadly, the start of the sale was blighted by tragic and difficult news. One of our number's partner has died unexpectedly, she altruistically came and donated items before going to register the death. This generosity in such an impossibly difficult time really crystalises all that is precious about the community at ACC. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they come to terms with this.
I hate to have to share news like this on what ought to be such a positive post, but it would be inappropriate not to.
One of our other dear members is suffering with unmanageable pain owing to her ME. She brought her donation along despite this and went off to rest up at home. We are so very grateful that both of you gave, even in your own trials.
The final piece of difficult news will have affected our community through our links with the local church. Many of our members also attend this church and we are stunned to hear that a couple who we know and love have lost their little girl at full term. She was stillborn. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with them and those around them.

Now, let's try to shift into a more positive place to share the wonderful news of the success of A Crafty Sale.
By 10am the tables were crammed with knitwear, jewellery, greetings cards, gift tags, container candles, hanging hearts, hair accessories, cross-stitch kits, tea-cosies ...

You name it, we had it there for all to see. The array of colour was literally astounding. Bless Chantal who kindly came and took photos for us so that we had something to share with our blogging community here!

At the official start time, the Lounge was literally heaving. People were several deep at the sale tables, we'd managed to rope Alison in to come and serve behind our 'counter' and we were starting to sell sell sell.

Stunning, handcrafted items were flying off the tables, winging their way to becoming Christmas gifts or personal accessories faster than we could get them up from under the table. By lunchtime, we were seriously ready for a break. I (Crafty) had finally stopped shaking enough to sit down with my amazing friend Alix to COUNT the money.

We decided to count and bank the larger notes & cheques, keeping back the coins and £5 notes for change.
So, at some point between one and two pm we zipped off to bank a grand £1082.50!

It was only two days before that Emma (Coffee) and I had spent an entire day sorting and pricing and had audaciously set our target to smash £1000. Having done that by 1pm, we could properly relax and enjoy the afternoon session. We took a relatively leisurely lunch break, enjoyed Trago Lounge's tasty soup offerings and mustered the energy to rearrange the sale tables to make the knitwear look more enticing.

We used height, vintage table cloths, baskets, wooden hangers and various other items to give variety and lead the eye through the sale but we had no idea how much 'stuff' people would donate. We have learned an enormous amount about what sells, what doesn't sell and how to display items to maximum effect.

Nonetheless, having rearranged the items for the afternoon session, we awaited the influx of after school customers. We were pleasantly surprised to have quite a number of punters, large and small. The big sellers for the afternoon were the smaller jewellery items, hair accessories and scarves. There were numerous requests for tea cosies which had all sold in the morning so that has gone down as a note to self!

Speaking of tea cosies, LOOK at this little beauty! The marked price on this Rowan cotton, hand knit, moss stitch, fully lined, Elvis print fabric cosy was £28. I was holding out to get the highest possible price on account of the fact that I WANTED it for myself. I failed, well, I got the full £28 for it and it will be very well used and loved by its new owner but I can hardly imagine anybody loving it like I would have done. To describe myself as envious would be putting it kindly.

Naturally, what you're all waiting for is the grand total, right?
Well, after a huge amount of effort, and ridiculous levels of generosity on the parts of both crafters and customers alike ... I was THRILLED to be able to email the fundraising managers at both Piam Brown Ward and CLIC Sargent (Southampton) to inform them of the grand total of £1446. For the ward, to add to that we have £120 from a cake sale held by Coffee's sister and there are monies still coming in. As things stand this morning, the ward will receive £858 and CLIC Sargent will gain £723. ***ThAnK YoU***

To describe ourselves as exhausted after the sale may be an understatement. Particularly Coffee, who has to contend with the emotional exhaustion and upheaval of completing her time on the ward with W and readjusting to life outside hospital as well as having worked her butt off at the sale. The family have a precarious time ahead of them, this is very definitely a journey into the unknown for them but they are very open and honest and thank God for the fact that W has been SO supernaturally well throughout all of his chemotherapy. It almost never happens that a child endures such toxic treatment without incidence of sickness or infection, they are so very grateful that this has been the case for them.

Right, that's me signing off now, it has taken a full week to get to the stage of being able to complete this missive and I have crafted much of it this morning at ACC while people knit, crochet, cross stitch and breakfast around me.

Do check in next week and see what we've been up to.
Love to you all.



Friday, 29 October 2010

ONE week!

This time next week we will be preparing ourselves for the second installment of the sale, let's just hope we have enough goods left over from the morning so as not to leave too many disappointed customers from across the city.

We've reached the stage where some of us are really starting to feel the time pressure of finishing and pricing items with a week to go. I am swinging between absolute confidence that all the items will sell and the sale being a massive success to having to take mountains of lovingly handcrafted items home with me and having no money to hand over to our two charities.

Needless to say, the reality will be somewhere between the two. There are people who have packaged their items so beautifully that they could hardly fail to sell them, whilst some people are putting items in even lower than the suggested £3 mark which will obviously please the youngsters with pocket money and the more frugal customers out there. There is no reason why the sale should not be a success, we have all worked hard to make sure there is something to sell, the event has been well publicised across the city and Trago have kindly promoted us in the Lounge. They have also agreed to give a verbal notice of the event at quiz night on Monday which is perfect as they have about 100 customers in so it will reach a wide number in one hit. On Sunday evening I am giving a little 'spotlight' interview at Highfield Church which will reach another large number of people, many of whom have some level of disposable income and will have a desire to support the ward and CLIC so ... what on Earth am I worrying about?

Let's stop thinking about next week for a moment and focus on today shall we?
Being half-term, we always expect a depleted number of adults and an increased number of miniature crafters.
My littlest and her best buddy sat and knitted together (yes ... KNITTED, at 6 years old) between playing with baby N and drawing and colouring with some of their friends.
I and Alison managed to knit about 4 rows between us, not what you might call a roaring success but hey, Friday mornings are about more than what we actually craft.
Claire is feeling the time pressure to get her cross stitch ready for the sale, that said, it is looking really good and looks close to completion to my untrained eye.
Marion and Lesley sat together, I wasn't aware of what they were working on but I know both of them are experienced in knitting for charity and we're excited to see what they show up with next week.
I saw Sarah, but not to speak to sadly. I do hope she is okay at the moment.
A lady called Brenda came along with Sharon to see if this might be the kind of thing they'd like to spend their Friday mornings doing. Hopefully we showed them that it's a very relaxed affair and that they would be really welcome?
Emma (Coffee) pitched up with Sheena (Mum) and E, her youngest. She's looking shattered, but with W nearing the end of round 4 (ding ding) of his chemo, all of the strength they have used in dealing with this, and all of the emotion of the last four months can finally start to come out.
I saw Jilly too, and Carol, I am sure there were more but my brain is SO not good at remembering who I've seen and what they were up to ...

Suffice to say, there was a healthy number of people there this morning, a lovely atmosphere in spite of Trago undergoing some home improvements, and a sense of anticipation of next week.

If you read our blog, and find yourselves in Southampton next Friday, DO come along to the sale. Even if nothing takes your fancy, Trago Lounge sell really good coffee, tasty cakes and have such a chilled ambience that you'd be mad not to pop by.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Two weeks and getting the jitters

So, we have many many many items crafted and ready to sell, Trago Lounge is booked and organised for two sessions of selling, posters are up all over the city, invitations are being dished out to all and sundry but ... what have I forgotten?

Well, I actually don't think I have forgotten a thing, but I have neglected to deal with a couple of problems that I did know about.

1. What do we do with unsold items?
Well, Sue (Coffee's MIL) can take unsold items to her church craft sale and the proceeds will still go to Piam Brown Ward. Failing that, Coffee and myself can also take unsold items to the Christmas Market at A Handcrafted Christmas and negotiate which charities would benefit as they are supporting the Hannah (Foster) Memorial Academy in India.
2. How will people retrieve their unsold items?
I propose that items arrive individually priced, ideally somewhere between £3 and £20, with 'Handmade By' on the reverse so that I can return unsold items to their creator.

Needless to say, we are rather hoping that there will not actually be any unsold items and that there will be a number of disappointed people in the city who decide to join ACC as they weren't able to buy all the handicrafts that they had their eyes on.
We want to see Piam Brown Ward and CLIC Sargent presented with lovely juicy cheques with which they can improve the lives of the children in their care and their families.

We are going to have some serious thanking to do at the end of all this, but some people have donated anonymously. If YOU popped into Trago Lounge this morning with a bag of needlepoint/cross stitch goodies for us, THANK YOU so very much. This will be made into kits to sell at the sale.

I think that's all for today.
See you all next week when I am anticipating my stress levels reaching quite a high.
Much love
C (&C of course)

Friday, 15 October 2010

3 weeks to go ...

Having said, "I'll meet you there, I'm driving" in the playground at about 9.00 this morning, how is it even possible that I rocked up at Trago Lounge at almost twenty five to ten? I got chatting with one of the school mums who I know makes jewellery but who I found out is entering an amateur interior design competition. I invited her to come along to ACC one day to see what we're all about, it turns out she had heard of us but didn't know I went along (I don't remember if I mentioned that I actually co-founded the group).

As I approached the doors of Trago I could hear the buzz and hum of chatting women busy crafting, drinking coffee and eating cake. It is lovely to walk in late sometimes and just hear those happy sounds and absorb the atmosphere.
I sat and pulled out my latest item for the sale, a lovely grey scarf with a really textured stitch pattern. It is a ten row repeat and is really easy for me to remember making it a very portable piece of work. This is a good thing because scarves do actually take a while to knit up if you want them to be a decent length.

I cannot believe the array of crafts that are going to make it into the sale. Karen has made cards and now beautiful, little, fabric needle books wrapped in cellophane and tied with a pretty little gift tag. She is so talented. I saw a couple of people working on toddler jumpers and one childs hat being knitted up. Emma is knitting at ACC and sewing at home at the moment, some of her wonderful 'Smockets' will be ready for the sale, as will some bags that she made in a fit of peak and a whole load of Alice in Wonderland inspired jewellery.
It is interesting to note that many of the stunning, handcrafted items already have huge potential to be sold within the group to those with different skills. The ruffle scarves in particular are going down a storm and people are even reserving them in advance of the sale!

Sarah is contributing a great deal in terms of publicising the event, so many of us have large groups of contacts outside ACC and we are really tapping into those to promote the event. It is exciting to hear that people have heard of us and have heard about the sale too.

Anyway, enough of my musings for today. Back to the knitting sticks as my son calls them.
Lots of love to you all.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Getting Ready

So, we've only 4 weeks to go until the big sale and much crafting has taken place over the last week.
I am astounded by the willingness of others to help us to raise money for Piam Brown Ward and CLIC Sargent.

So far, two members of ACC have offered stash raids so that we all have materials to work with, thanks Sarah and Emma. John Lewis Southampton have JUST got back to me saying that they too will put together some goodies for us to craft with at some point next week! Trago Lounge are donating 25% of their coffee sales on the day and everyone in the group appears to be beavering away making things to sell. Since last week I have seen a completed beanie hat, a shoe box full of beautiful greetings cards, a baby dress, a baby jumper, a baby cardi, an almost complete toddler jumper, a girls' scarf, a carrier bag FULL of jewellery and I know there is MUCH more on the go.

I waltzed into Trago this morning a little later than I usually would because I stopped by the office to pick up the posters and invitations cards, hot off the press. I am thrilled with how they look, and people were clammering after taking away posters to put around their workplaces, churches, surgeries, schools etc etc.
Upon my arrival I noted a fair few crafters working already, the place had a lovely buzz to it that steadily grew from 9.35am until about 10.15am. It felt like we were bursting at the seams which was wonderful, I just feel the sale is going to be a huge success. I mean, some of our members are really talented! I know there are novices like me, but even I can turn out something salable. In fact, I am using some of Jelly's leftover fabrics to make rosettes for hair clips and bands right now. Then I need to think up some ways of using the yarn stash I have acquired to make pretty salable items, oh, and I need to finish a lovely 'Old Shale' blanket I started, not to mention deciding whether to carry on with my k1, yo, k2tog scarf ... In fact, what am I doing writing a blog post with all that to be getting on with?

Maybe Coffee will take a break from her virtually constant (currently hospital based) knitting to add to this?

See you all next week folks.
Crafty Crafty x

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Crafty Sale

So here it is, our beautiful poster for A Crafty Sale. This is going to be a fantastic event, pulling the crafting community together but involving the wider community too.

See you there.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

World's Biggest Coffee Morning

A Crafty Coffee met as usual and clever Crafty remembered that it was the Macmillan World's Biggest Coffee morning and made Macmillan mugs for people to put donations in. We raised £33 which was great as it was an improptu fundraiser. Well done people!

The other big news of the morning was something that Crafty, P (the manager of Trago) and I have had up our sleeves for a little while. As those of you who are regular readers of the blog and/or regulars at ACC will know, my oldest son is currently having treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He has his treatment at the Piam Brown children's cancer ward at Southampton General Hospital.

Well, drum roll please...... A Crafty Coffee and Trago Lounge would like to announce that on Friday 5th November 2010 between 10am and 1pm we will be holding A Crafty Sale in aid of the Piam Brown ward and CLIC Sargent (the children's cancer and leukaemia charity). So, everyone, please getting knitting, crocheting, sewing, making and crafting in order for us to have loads of beautiful items to sell for these two charities. And if you can't craft anything, come and buy. And invite everyone you know!

From a personal point of view, the money raised for the ward and for CLIC makes such a difference to the children and the families on the ward. The money that the ward makes pays for extra equipment that the ward needs as well as treats for the children, which is vital for creating 'happy' memories for the families at a terrible time in their lives. And CLIC do so much for families of children diagnosed with cancer. One thing they do locally is provide a house for families to live in while the children are being treated on the ward. Many of the families come from miles and miles away to receive this specialist treatment and families would be separated if CLIC didn't provide this house. One family I can think of in particular on the ward, where the mum is on her own, would be in a terrible situation if they didn't have this option, with the child with cancer having to be left on her own on the ward while the mum took care of her other child. This way they can all be together.

I am not going to apologise for trying to pull on your heart strings in this post. Having a child with cancer, not knowing what the outcome is going to be for your beautiful child or all the other wonderful, brave children on the ward is heartbreaking. And if I can do anything to get people to part with their cash, in order to make things a tiny bit better for the other families who will have to go through this, I will.

So, get crafting. And come and buy!

Lots of love, Coffee xxx

PS A huge 'thank you' to Crafty (Dee) who is making this event happen, and who has been the most enormous source of comfort and strength to me in the past few months. E xxx

PPS I (Crafty) am fully behind Emma in this project and agree that we should make no apology for pulling on heart strings in this post. We have been going through this together like sisters, the pain is enormous but I am thrilled to be able to contribute something, no matter how small, to make difference to these children and their families. Fundraising is a particular forté of mine so let's hope we pull off a massive event.

Monday, 20 September 2010

We're Back!

Now that even the Reception children are back in school, we are watching our numbers replenish and it's not a moment too soon.

There is a buzz about the group again as we share stories of summer and of our trickier parenting moments as well as more positive tales of the fun we've had and future plans.

Somewhat excitingly, we have had two new members join us on the strength of a feature we placed in the local parish publication. We shall definitely have to use the same medium to publicise an event we are planning. I can't share too much at this stage, but we are in cahoots with the manager of Trago Lounge and we will be needing all hands on deck for this extravaganza. There, did that whet the appetite?

"News from the group?" I hear you cry.
Okay, so we have new members, the same old life struggles and joys. Big news is that Coffee (Emma) and family are on their second break from the hospital scene and awaiting their return for round three of the chemo. I always want to say, "ding ding" when I say that. I guess, in it's simplest form, chemo is a lot like a boxing scenario. It's a fight, it's fought in rounds with short breaks in between, it's heavy going, sometimes you win, sometimes you don't, there are invariably 'injuries' along the way ... In this particular ring, the chemo is doing its job and W is not suffering too many ill effects so is able to enjoy his time both in hospital (good old x box) and out of it.
In other news, well ... Celia finally has both small peeps in school, Jilly is getting inspired in the studio, Sarah is in the middle of a spell of ill health (get well soon Sarah, we miss you), there is talk that I need to start considering school options for my eldest (WHAT???), Isobel and Karen keep 'shopping' on my behalf in the local charity shops, we have two big events coming up, rumblings of a pop up business in time for Christmas ... That's all I can remember for now.

If you've been away, COME BACK! A Crafty Coffee will certainly need you in the coming weeks. Not to mention, Trago Lounge has been extremely quiet without us at full capacity.

See you Friday.
That's all folks.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Bring me Sunshine!

"Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day," was how I sarcastically or optimistically began the day as I looked out onto an overcast, drizzly, August Friday.

Nonetheless, fine weather is more of a deterrent to us crafters than a spot of rain. Just the two tables worth of us descended on Trago Lounge this morning for a spot of relaxed crafting and delicious coffee.

Speaking of Coffee, she has escaped from the hospital, in actual fact, the whole family has had 6 days respite followed by an amount of to-ing and fro-ing before W could finally be readmitted for round two yesterday. Today Coffee made a short escape and managed to get two meals in Trago before her return to Hama Bead Hell in hospital, she and her Kid B were sewing foam shapes together this morning making up a little bag and a photo frame.

Myself and my Kid B were in attendance. Mini-me was making pom-poms while I started my second 'upcycled' rosette corsage. The first one was adorning Mini-me's headband making a rather delightful fascinator.

There was an amount of crocheting and knitting going on around the group and much drawing and colouring from the additional small people. A lovely buzz to the group today made for a very welcome break from the hum drum of daily life.

Sadly, Sunday sees Vicki's last shifts in Trago. We will all miss her very much but, seeing how good she is with the children makes me sure that she is off to do the right thing. She is off to train as a teacher in Cheltenham, much luck to you Vicki.

Love to you lovely crafters ... see as many of you as can make it next week.
xxx Crafty xxx

Monday, 16 August 2010

Another Month has Passed

Hello Crafters

So, another month has passed and I have missed you all so very much at A Crafty Coffee on the Fridays I have been away.

This weekend my family and I went to Vintage at Goodwood. It was our first ever festival and was great fun for those who love art, design, film, fashion and music through the decades. Many people dressed up (60s, 70s, 40s, 50s and even some 80s) and there were LOADS of crafty ideas to rip off ... you can call anything 'vintage' if it has got even one 'old' element to it! I will add some web links to the blog as there really were some inspiring stalls/people/crafters etc.

I do hope many of you are continuing to meet up while others are on their holidays. I am planning on being at ACC this week, whether I will work some more on the blanket or upcycle some 'vintage' fabrics remains to be seen.

As for a W update, he and Emma are going back into hospital today for the second of four rounds of chemotherapy. They enjoyed 6 days respite and ALL of the leukaemic cells had been eradicated after the first round of chemo so ... so far, so good. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers though, the stays in hospital are very trying.

See you Friday,
Love to you all.
Crafty xxx

Friday, 16 July 2010

Light shining in the darkness

It has been an emotional week for anyone close to Coffee and her family. A Crafty Coffee was no different and there was a definite sense of a community pulling together in crisis this morning.

The group has taken to spreading over five tables or so now, there really are quite a number of us when we get going. I saw a beautiful quilt being unpicked in order to help it's creator to have the confidence to pick it back up and work on it again. PW was in charge of that tutorial. In terms of other work, I was aware of some knitting and crocheting, but more than that ... CONVERSATION.

People were obviously keen to find out how the Reynolds' were bearing up after the news of W's illness, but they are also keen to help. KB brought along some home made cards as Coffee had requested that I bring in some thank you cards for her (people have already been incredibly generous). There was a buzz about what we could do for the boys, what we should craft. IW has taken it all in hand, we are going to knit/crochet a surprise for both of the boys. All at ACC seem keen to contribute and I think it will be something really special.

As you all know, we had to postpone the Crafty Day owing to the Race for Life. It seems more than just coincidence that I ran the race (in 29 minutes) and had a text shortly after crossing the finishing line to tell me that W had been admitted to hospital for tests. By the evening, Coffee and sent another message to say that they had a leukaemia diagnosis. The Race for Life is an emotional event with many people running in support of ..., in memory of ..., or in celebration of ... It became even more significant upon hearing this news.

A Crafty Day WILL still happen, we are obviously going to have to shelve the idea until September at the earliest but if any of you would like to help 'make it happen' please come forward. I am DREADFUL at organising but BRILLIANT at having ideas and at doing as I am told.

I will attempt to keep the blog updated over the coming months in Coffee's absence. I hope you will all find it useful and will maybe start to add your comments?


It's been too long!

It has been far too long since one of us made the time to post a blog. Sorry for that.

I imagine that most of you will know by now that Coffee (Emma)'s eldest son was diagnosed with leukaemia on Sunday (11th July) and that they have a virtually solid six months of hospital encampment ahead of them. The entire family are very receptive to prayer and are graciously accepting help where it is appropriate.

As for us at A Crafty Coffee ... where do we fit in? Well, since we have really begun to gel as a community, let's look out for Sue and Sheena (the Mums) particularly.
There are some suggestions floating around of what we could craft for the boys, something matching, something completely machine washable etc. Hopefully this morning we will make a final decision on this and get cracking.

A Crafty Coffee will continue to meet throughout the summer, we anticipate depleted numbers from week to week as people take family holidays but also, some increase as people bring their little crafters to participate.

I am sorry for the reflective and solemn nature of this post.
I am sure I am not the only one who is 100% thankful that we have such a loving community here at ACC that we can all support each other through this and other tricky times.

Love Crafty x
(and Coffee of course)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

New faces, gifts and more ...

I (Crafty) literally don't know where to start.

Friday was possibly our most exciting meeting yet! I expect this post will come across just as jumbled as my head but I am not sure I even care. I just want to get it all out on the page.

So, um ... the most exciting element has to have been welcoming the first Crafty Baby, Nathaniel Joel who arrived on Tuesday and came along with his big sister and Mum and Dad for a drink at this week's ACC. As a group, our welcome gift has yet to materialise but Trago Lounge did not let us down. The staff bought the family a box of chocolates and a card to welcome Nathaniel to the world. We LOVE the staff in Trago, they are like a bonus part of our crafting family.

I saw many faces coming and going this week, I would guess that over 25 people came and went in the two hours I spent attempting to knit another square for Naomi's blanket. There were at least four new faces which was absolutely lovely. A new friend, Lisa came along and she found a stray Karen outside wondering where she should park. They happened to know one another already which was useful because they were both new to our group. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I didn't manage to speak to everybody this week but spent much of my time with Isobel, Jilly and Karen (another new face). I sat chatting with another unfamiliar face and, being utterly useless at these things, I omitted to introduce myself or get her name. How embarrassing?

The gift element arrived with Claire. Apparently our reputation as crafters goes before us. Somebody who had benefited from a box of 1950s patterns and two tubes of needles didn't have the heart to part with them and needed them to go to a good home so they have been left to us all at ACC. For me (and possibly Jilly) the most exciting part of this gift was actually the tubes surrounding the knitting needles. As a graphic designer I really appreciate packaging and typography. The tubes were old girdle tubes, one pink Playtex one, the other a Golden Girdle one. We tipped everything out for people to peruse and tried to get people to take what they wanted but Jilly and myself requested the tubes. Shortly before leaving I braved asking Jilly which one she would prefer so she is having the pink and I inherit the gold. My husband was quite impressed that I had got my hands on one of those and over the weekend I have discovered the reason that illustrative drawings were used in 50s underwear advertising and packaging instead of photography! You may already know this ... but apparently it was because photography would have been seen as titilating or slightly pornographic so illustrations of the women in girdles were used instead.

Anyhow, the birthday girls (Karen and Jilly both celebrated this week) tucked into croissants with their drinks while I knitted, Isobel crocheted, Nathaniel was the parcel in Pass the Parcel, and various other crafts took place. I saw Helen with some more cross stitch, and was aware of knitters and crocheters, I may have started something with this blanket for Naomi as there are three/four more blankets in progress and I suspect Priya *may* embark on one for her next project.

Just as I was toying with going home to do Helen a favour, my good friend Anna came along with Naomi (the recipient of my first ever knitted item). I adopted Naomi for quite some time, we are getting to like each other and I do like a baby that doesn't belong to me. It was lovely to have her just lying on me, taking in the world around her while I chatted with Isobel and Priya about the plans for A Crafty Day.

A Crafty Day is still a work in progress at this stage, but I think we will pull it off and members of A Crafty Coffee will have a real chance to get to know one another better and to try their hands at something different with more time to throw at creativity.

I do hope Coffee will add something to this post because she was on the other side of the group and between us we probably did spend time with everybody who came.

I can't wait to see who turn up with what crafts next week. I am determined NOT TO UNPICK everything I do at ACC next time. As Sarah pointed out, I probably need a t-shirt she has seen emblazoned with the following, "Shh, I'm counting".

TTFN Crafters.

Friday, 7 May 2010

And another...

A second post by Coffee in a row? No! Surely not? It is indeed. I am feeling much better at the moment (although still having lots of ups and downs) and so I am trying to take the pressure off poor Crafty, who is suffering today with ANOTHER of her headaches. Will these bliming headaches never go. Grrrr!

Another Friday, another A Crafty Coffee. I didn't do a headcount (I think we've given up on those - it's a shame really) but we had another good turnout - spreading out onto FOUR tables this week. The Trago Lounge was as welcoming as ever and no doubt plenty of money was spent (ker-ching!). A couple of us even stayed for lunch - yummy!

SJ (my mum :) ) was back from her holiday in France, having managed to make excellent headway with her cardigan - probably due to the peace and quiet she had in the middle of the Mayenne countryside. I on the other hand had barely done any more of my WiP despite it being very simple and easy to do anywhere and in any circumstances.

Crafty was hard at work on her delicious blanket, but sadly was seen towards the end of the morning unravelling all her hard work. What a shame! Still, she had a morning of lusting over a Cath Kidston magazine/catalogue that my lovely CPN gave me this week. Am I leading Crafty into bad ways?

EN (nope, still no baby) and AP were crocheting. AP taught herself how to make granny squares this week, and was expressing her amazement that her teenage daughter was interested in having a crocheted blanket herself!

Sewing? A was working on some very beautiful quilting, and produced the most amazing looking book on crafting and Jane Austen (covet, covet). CK and HK were both beavering away at their cross-stitches which are coming on very well. And LB got a decoration finished! We should have taken a photo (must, must, MUST take photos next week!). LB and EN's littlies had a great time playing with mine and Crafty's keys and pretending to lock us into Trago's, much to the other customers' bemusement.

R joined us right at the end of the morning, having had a very tough time of it recently. She was obviously struggling to keep a brave face on it, but thankfully Crafty produced a hanky and that helped her (I think) to share some of what is going on in her life. Clearly it isn't appropriate to discuss the details here, but it does amaze me how so many people have been brought together with similar issues going on in their lives. And I am also overwhelmed with the way people are able to come to ACC and share such personal stories, and to get love and support from each other. We hope and pray that R has a better few weeks, and gets to see some light at the end of the tunnel with everything that is going on.

Well, sorry to everyone else. I wasn't paying enough attention (must try harder!) but I do know that everyone was working away, as well as chatting. I wish I had had chance to go and have a look at what everyone was up to. Maybe next week....

Hopefully next week we will have some good news to share! Whatever else you do this weekend, enjoy your crafting!

Coffee x

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Long time no post...

Hello. Coffee here. Long time no post. In fact, it is such a long time since I posted I couldn't remember my login details. How bad is that? Sorry Crafty! And thank you for doing such a sterling job during my metaphorical, and sometime literal, absense. You are a star!

Well, Friday saw us back at the Trago Lounge, on the last day of April (can you believe it?) and with still no baby for poor EN, who came with her MIL for support. We had yet another great turn out with ACC spreading over its usual three large table areas. As I was sandwiched in on one of the tables I'm afraid I'll only be able to report what I could see from where I was sitting.

One of the excitements of the morning was the appearance of KB's finished granny square blanket. It was stunning. Lots of colourful squares crocheted together with Aran yarn which gave the blanket a subtle look. The joining technique was admired by many, with a long discussion about whether the 'back' of the work, with its raised pattern, was even better than the front! It is hard to believe that K only learnt to crochet back in January when ACC started. I'm hoping to add in a picture of Crafty with the blanket wrapped around her here. (Coming soon....!)

There were many more blankets in progress. ACC seems to have a craze for them at the moment. Crafty was continuing her beautiful coloured squares, AF was busy conferring with IW on the progress of her 'apple' square, and even I was busy with garter stitch squares for a rough and ready garden blanket which I am working on during my (many) 'brain not quite working' phases.

CK was carrying on with her cross stitch, which, as I glanced over her shoulder, seems to be coming on well. JE also brought cross stitch, but found the low light levels in Trago made it too hard for her to work. She seemed to have a good time chatting to SR though, who in turn was carrying on with knitting a creamy coloured, cotton shrug for herself.

We had a newcomer this week, SA, who I hope felt welcomed. She won't be able to come back for a couple of weeks due to work commitments, but I hope we will see her again after that. She brought the last of a series of four matching cardigans she is knitting for a friend who is expecting twins: one pink, one purple, one light blue and one bright blue. She was working this week on the bright blue one, which was a beautiful colour and matched her skirt! Am I the only one who LOVES it when people's work matches what they are wearing?

SA and I had a good long natter, carrying on long after ACC had officially finished, as S works in an area that is close to what I was previously training to do - a job that I miss very much and an area of life that I am still very passionate about and love to talk about. It was very interesting for me to hear about a slightly different area and an alternative angle on my previous profession.

Well, that's all folks. There was loads more happening at ACC this week, but I'm afraid I didn't pay enough attention to everything that was going on. But, coffee and other beverages were drunk, WIPs were worked on, there was A LOT of chatting and laughter, and, most importantly, relationships were made and strengthened.

TTFN. Coffee xxx

Monday, 26 April 2010


There was a buzz of excitement this week as we waited to see if EN would arrive or if she was otherwise engaged delivering her Kid B ... but happily or sadly, she was there to craft with us.

Coffee is really battling through another bad low patch so it was simply wonderful to see her making Alice in Wonderland themed jewellery at the coffee table.

I planted myself in the window to knit some more blanket squares and chat with IW and KB. These two really are the expert crafters of the group. They share a dream to have a crafting barn with workshops in the Forest or similar. Personally I think this would be a wonderful and exciting project, should they ever have the capital to run such a venture. Both IW and KB were adorning some white WonderBras for 4 playground mums who were doing the Sunwalk (10k for cancer) the following day.

There were a good number of crafters again, I would guess about 20 but have long since given up counting. The exciting thing this week was that we had a new member who came along knowing her craft but not knowing anybody! Welcome Amy (sorry I don't know your initials). Amy was hand quilting a machine assembled piece of patchwork for a baby. It has a teddy bear's picnic theme and is simply beautiful.

I have to be honest and say that, aside from unpicking many rows of knitting, chatting to Amy and being upstaged in the blanket squares department by AS, I don't honestly know what everybody else was up to.

Suffice to say, Coffee will add her two penneth worth here if I have missed anything major, and we hope to have a baby update for you all asap.

Happy crafting all.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Today saw many of us parenting types at the end of the Easter break. Some of us were in a position to take a break from our littlies, others of us came with our small people in tow.

I (Crafty) was one of those who was able to bring my DD along to craft with us. She is beavering away next to me in the garden as we speak, writing her first ever blog post.

In terms of young crafters, I noticed three boys, and six girls between 1 and 7 years. Grown up crafters were about 14 in number. Given that it is still the Easter break this seemed like a respectable amount.

Instead of looking at my beautiful balls of yarn, I actually KNITTED 12 rows this week. Since last week, armed with SJ's lovely blanket book, I have amassed no less than SIX blanket squares. Each one is a different pattern or texture and there will be five different colours in the finished blanket.

SJ was working on a cabled jumper, which was useful for me as I got to see cabling in action. This has been incredibly helpful. I actually think I may be in a position to give it a go sooner than I thought.
CK was cross stitching and socialising as usual, she is very good at spotting and welcoming a newbie and did so with TWO new people this morning. She also shared with us about a website and businessman she has discovered who has offered members of ACC a discount on his craft kits. We will add a link to this blog in due course.
JE was assembling a STUNNING Attic24 style, crocheted blanket. It is simply beautiful and is apparently a new attempt at crochet for J who is our resident knitting artist.
CC was knitting a jumper for her DH. He popped in at the end and suggested we attempted to reign her in as she is spending the family funds as fast as she can on knitting supplies. Far be it from us to discourage this behaviour, especially as he will see the benefit of this particular garment and the yarn was half price in Hobbycraft.
AS came in on her way to spending a day at the races. Having completed the cupcake jumper, she has moved onto a blanket which immediately puts mine to shame. She was VERY sweet though and said to me, 'I thought you had only just learned to knit?' as she perused my knitted squares. Hers has bobbles on it which I am keen to learn. Her DD hung round with mine, card making and writing and colouring.

Here is Crafty Junior's first blog entry:
"Today I had a grait time at a craftey cofey! and all the other weeks it is reerly fun. I love it. I brort colouring and writing. It was fun dooing colouring and making cards with my freinds."

I was hoping that Coffee would finish up here but she is struggling with her health again so I will leave this post here and if she ever wants to add to it she can.

Much springy, crafty love to you all.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Easter Holidays

Hello all, Crafty here with the shenanigans from two weeks worth of A Crafty Coffee during the holidays.

Good Friday was particularly special, although somewhat different to our usual meetings. We had a photographer in to take some 'publicity shots' for our use on posters, parish newsletters etc. Both Coffee and myself are a little camera shy and elect to take photographs preserving people's identity and focusing in on their work. Our publicity photographs really challenged us on that front, maybe we will post some on here when we get the CD?

For our fellow crafters, we decided an Easter gift was in order.
We spent much time deliberating over the gift, how to approach it, what it needed to say etc. In the end, we decided that it had to be about new life, and that we had to take a crafty approach. We planted Forget-me-nots in little fibre pots tied with blue gingham ribbon or blue ric-rac and embellished with a button. We then added a hand-made label with Forget-me-not written on the front, and a bible verse from Matthew on the reverse. This is probably the bravest thing we have ever done, but the verse carries a worthwhile message for all, without (we hope) being too forceful.
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

There were far less crafters than we are used to, Easter tends to have the effect of drawing families together so many people were off on holidays or visiting relatives. We gave some of the plants to the staff at Trago which is the least we can do as they slave after us once a week.

Friday just gone was again a more intimate affair. It gave me the chance to pick people's brains about how to tackle my first ever baby blanket and many people had great tips for me. Now that Naomi has ownership of her bear (remember my first WiP thatI had to keep a secret?), I am feeling more confident to try new things. And, a whole range of 1/2 price bamboo-cotton yarns in scrummy sorbet colours proved irresistable to me!

It was lovely to see J with her little lad, E with only 5 weeks max till we get to meet 'Spud', CK, Coffee, C, SD with her two small peeps, and KW made a chance appearance with baby J which was lovely for me as I don't get to see them that often. SJ and SR knitted away together and SJ VERY kindly brought be a book to borrow with 100 knitted squares in it for my blanket.

I imagine this week will be similarly intimate, nonetheless I look forward to showing SJ how useful her wonderful blanket book has been for me. And exploring with Coffee the potential for me to make my own 'chart' to personalise Naomi's blanket. I SO hope they like it as much as I think I will.

TTFN ....

Friday, 26 March 2010

Coffee is BACK!

Hurrah for the springtime weather, the daffodils and tete a tetes rearing their lovely yellow heads and for the return of the lovely Coffee. NO, I don't mean the caffeinated beverage, I mean my fellow founder of A Crafty Coffee.

Now, you all know she is having a spell in hospital at the moment, and if you don't know already, you may have read between the lines and got that she is experiencing some MH difficulties. The good news is that the new medication is taking effect and that Coffee is currently able to take 3 hours of escorted leave each day. Various peeps have been 'allowed' to escort her, including ME! Wahoo, can you believe they trusted me to keep her safe?

Now, onto more Crafty matters.
There was a great number of attendees again this morning, so when I gauged opinion on whether meeting on Good Friday was indeed a Good Friday idea, I was met with an overwhelming response ... YES! Great news indeed, how wonderful to be able to take advantage of a Bank Holiday to use the Dads to have the littlies so that many of us can continue to craft away. Of course Easter is pretty significant for me, but not so for many of the group so it will be interesting to sit and chat and see what people think of the easter story and of the Jewish and Pagan festivals also celebrated at this time.
In terms of A Crafty Day, the response is again very positive. We will really try to pull together over the next month in order to organise something for July, prior to the school holidays if we can.

Physical craft wise, SJ showed me a new stitch that she is using to create this FAB cardigan, it has a beautiful textural quality to it.
Coffee is still working on her hooded cardi, it is coming quite close to being finished now which is great.
I am still doing the applique cushion for DD. A Crafty Coffee seemed like a good idea, but I didn't allow for the fact that I am actually quite gregarious and therefore spend too much time engaged in conversation.
PT is knitting her bag AND GROWING A BABY! How exciting and what lovely news to have heard this fine morning! Congratulations to her and Mr T, we wish them all the best as they embark on this amazing journey together.
SD is still feeling relieved of some of her ME symptoms which is good, she has had some tummy trouble as a result of the pain killers though so we will pray about that. She was knitting a PS3 toy for her brother who is definitely old enough to know better but ...
I saw CK, J, DJ and HK all doing some cross stitch, AS COMPLETING the cupcake jumper, IW and KB plotting and planning, C and L crafting quietly in another corner. It really is a hive of activity on a Friday morning in Trago Lounge.

Alas, no pictures again, I PROMISE to do better one of these fine days.
Love for the week.
Crafty xxx

Friday, 19 March 2010

A Wanderer Returns

I waltzed into A Crafty Coffee this morning a little later than usual, but still before 9.30 and the place was already buzzing with craft and conversation! As I stood at the bar, a bumped into Mr Sparkles, a very good friend, and decided to sit with him so that he would feel less intimidated by the massive group of female crafters taking over the Lounge.

Sadly, Coffee has been taken into hospital, I have mentioned on here previously that she has been very unwell but things have reached new depths. Mr Sparkles was a great encouragement to talk to about this as he has first hand experience with the same illness. I am planning on making a visit to see Coffee tomorrow, all things being equal.

So, as Mr Sparkles and myself sat and enjoyed a cuppa or two, a wanderer returned! We were very pleased to welcome back DH who had to leave us owing to work commitments. She returned with a very pretty shawl she is working on, and she told us all about her job, and the interview she was having this afternoon for a new one. I was able to share with her the 'rumblings' about a crafting day and she was very happy to be a tutor for the day!

DH and myself retired to the coffee table area where there is more light. I took a quick look around and chatted to a new lady while I was on my way. I saw about 20 people again, some faces I know very well by now, but others less so. CP was tickled when I went over to sit with her and SD. She said, 'I love the way you circulate to speak to everyone, like a bride at a wedding'. I suppose I feel that since Coffee and myself 'founded' the group, I need to make sure everyone is welcome and happy and feels comfortable. It's silly really because the group would take care of itself very well without me.

So, after last week when PT and myself chatted with SD about her ME and what she would most like prayer for, I felt I should follow that up. Interestingly, S decided she would most like not to be in pain, and to have the energy to function without crashing out. I asked her how she'd been ... to which she was delighted to reply that she has had a week free of painkillers and that she has done more in the past week than she has done in ages but has not felt wiped out. I very quietly said, 'wow, what an answer to prayer'. Her friend said, 'it was all the laughter' to which I replied that laughter is a great healer but SD said, 'AND the prayer'. I feel so encouraged to offer to pray with or for people irrespective of their faith background as a result of this.

Anyway, onto more crafty matters ... two interesting things came out of this morning. Both IW and KB want to be tutors on our crafty day and KB and myself discussed having a spiritual/emotional crafting day whereby we endeavour to visually represent feelings/thoughts etc. The second VERY interesting chat was at the very end. I was intorduced to a lovely lady who wants to set up a craft based therapy group for people with mental health problems and also to have ameans for those people to be able to sell their work. I insisted that we have a conversation about it because many of our number have mental health/emotional/physical health problems and because I am aware of a group of people who want to have a premises on our High Street selling local crafts, fairtrade goods and food/drink. As we sat and chatted it became apparent that there were ways in which our groups could all overlap. How jolly exciting. WHAT NEXT?

Monday, 15 March 2010

A not so Crafty Coffee

I arrived at least half an hour later than I said owing to having a doctor appointment for myself and Kid A, followed by a 'brief' meeting with the headteacher.

Upon my arrival I could see that there were quite a number of crafters beavering away, I would say the usual 20ish but that is a guess.

What did strike me was that there was a new member to our number, PT who had positioned herself with CK and SD among others, she was offering some words of encouragement to S regarding miraculous healings of ME sufferers. S did seem to be enormously encouraged and began to really consider what she would most like to happen if people were to pray for her.

I was also THRILLED to see that Coffee put in an appearance, she is still seriously ill but to see her up and out of the house fills me with hope for her.

As far as crafting goes, I sat myself down on a long table with EN, CP and their little girls, got my applique out of my satchel ... only to discover that I had left the thread at home. Thank goodness IW had come along with a book on felt bowls from her seemingly endless crafting library.

There is a rumble within the group of the need for some kind of crafting day, like a mini retreat where tutorials may be offered, we can share food together and generally spend more time either completing a project or trying our hand at something new in a totally safe environemnt. I am going to bite the bullet with this one and look into booking a venue in the summer, for a full day on a Saturday. This should give more of our 'working' members an opportunity to join in. I added working in inverted commas because I am not suggesting for one moment that being available on a Friday morning to craft means that one does not work!

I cannot say who or what was going on around me aside from this rumble as I was probably concentrating more on the people in my immediate proximity. I do hope this does not mean that everyone else did not feel welcome. I do sometimes struggle to make sure I speak to every attendee but now that relationships are forming and deepening, it is sometimes more beneficial to spend some quality time with one or two people in deeper conversation.

So, that's it for the 12th of March. I can't wait to test the water when I float the idea of the crafting day. Any takers to bet that IW is the first to offer to be a tutor for the day?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Some say it's Spring

But as I desperately scraped the ice from the windscreen, for we were running late for school, I declined to agree. Late winter it is then.

I was in the playground this morning, gathering participants for A Crafty Coffee when the head teacher approached me and asked 'if I had a minute'. Eeek. Anyway, I went off to the head's office and AS called up to me that she'd see me there.

As I walked past the window of Trago Lounge I noticed that some young things had taken 'our' window seats! How rude. I entered and saw a significantly depleted number of crafters around one of the long tables. On I walked up to the bar, ordering myself a decaf latte but immediately changing my mind to fully loaded as I pondered on my meeting with the head. The staff in Trago are coming to know us quite well now so Pip and Vicki were able to joke with me about it being 'one of those days' before we'd even made it to half past nine.

Anyway, I took my place next to AS who is on the home straight with the cupcake jumper. PW was crocheting a blanket and had invited AN to join us for the first time. AN knits, is a parent of a boy in my Kid A's class and was planning on learning to crochet this morning. Slowly more and more people began to join us so although it was a slow start, we ended up with the usual number of around twenty attendees. It was great to welcome more than one new face and although I said hello to everybody who popped it, I am still unfamiliar with everyone by name which is a bit of a challenge.

Conversations this morning centred around a mother's choice to be a full time mum or a paid working mum. This is a subject very close to my heart and it was interesting to note how the perceptions of both the full time mother and the paid working mother have shifted over time. I am sure I have mentioned before that the mix of ages and experiences at A Crafty Coffee is one of the things that makes the group a community. Sharing experiences together and 'comparing notes' for want of a better turn of phrase, enables us to support one another and to learn from one another.
More frivolous conversations were around holidays, destinations and what makes a family holiday fun. SJ, C, AS and myself had a great chat about holidays that has left me yearning to take a spring break in Italy.
It transpires that I have mutual friends outside of A Crafty Coffee with two of our members, this is lovely because it shows me what a lovely community we are becoming and that we talk about the group with friends, peers and colleagues outside of the crafting circles.

Craft wise, we had the usual crochet, knitting, sewing and cross stitch. IW assumed her favourite teaching mode, and it was simply delightful to see a blanket brought in by a lady who was taught by IW to crochet only three weeks ago. Her choice of colours was simply divine, right up my street ... a chocolate brown edge moving into pinks, greens and mulberry. Mmmmmmmm, delicious, and it had a real vintage feel taking me right back to a blanket I had as a child, crocheted for me by my Great Nana.
There was a hint at a huge cross stitch Southampton Football Club badge up the other end of the table and my ears were definitely burning but I didn't get the opportunity to see it. CK was cross stitching up there with DJ, and a couple of new ladies who I don't know.
CC was knitting ANOTHER new item (some of these women are true pros), a garter stitch coat by Debbie Bliss. It is going to be beautiful. In the book it is knitted in a rich, dark grey. But CC has elected to knit hers in a lovely purple colour. I think it is going to be lovely. EN was knitting another sleeve to sleeve jumper. Apparently the first one came out huge and will fit her DD but she was knitting it for the bump so she is experimenting with finer needles and thinner yarn to make a smaller one.
LB was, again, working on her hand stitched tree decorations. Her DS and EN's DD managed to drive the young things off of the window seats with their antics. This amused most of us because, as I have said before, Trago is a child friendly venue. It strikes me that the British attitude to children and families is fairly unique within the context of the rest of Eurpope!

And so to me ... Sadly, Coffee was too ill to be with us this morning. But that was not going to stop me. I have abandoned myself in favour of Coffee's 'try anything' approach and I am learning to hand applique. My mentality has shifted somewhat from 'oh no, I can't possibly do that, I might make a mistake' to 'I've seen it on youtube, therefore I can do it'. A friend compared it to her son who watched the winter olympics on TV and can therefore ski!
So, this hand applique ... Kid B says to me that I need to have a word with 'the shop man' as they don't do mugs with her name on but they do do Mia, Phoebe and Lily (her school buddies). It occurs to me that the cushion cover I have not braved sewing because I am too afraid to cut the back pieces may have remained unfinished for a reason. I look up hand applique on t'internet and decide that I can indeed do it. I set about personalising a cushion for her and will post the photo in the next week or four!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

ANOTHER month comes to an end?

Someone tell me this is some kind of joke. It seems like only five minutes ago that I was writing about the end of January. Now, I know we have not stayed on top of the blogging, but the posts have been written in draft just not posted. So it is fair to ask ... what happened to February?

A Crafty Coffee met for the final time this month on Friday. There is a bit of a buzz about the group now. People are really starting to get to know one another and, I hope, feel a sense of belonging to the group.

We welcomed back KB after a couple of weeks off for her. It turns out she has been to-ing and fro-ing to Leeds to see her DD who is having a bit of a hard time of it right now. What a wonderful mum I say, going all that way to help 'girlify' the house after a relationship break down and generally support her DD. KB has three other children too which I admire since I struggle endlessly with the two I've got! While she crocheted, I knitted, Coffee knitted, CK cross stitched, JA whipped up a burlesque outfit and C knitted, we all shared amusing parenting tails suggesting that we were not alone! And that, if KBs tales were anything to go by, it may only get harder.

A Crafty Coffee really is a special little group for that reason.
I believe CC and another lovely lady whose name escapes me, were supporting SJ in an entirely different way. It is just so wonderful to see these relationships blossoming.

PW and J only stopped in for a short time as they had volunteered themselves to walk year 2 to the library on a school trip. But, no sooner had they left than AS came in with the cupcake jumper. Apparently she is down to just the sleeves now so with only the winter Olympics and the Rugby to distract her for now she should be finished in no time.

I did bring my camera to celebrate the end of another month, the photos will be added in due course ... watch this space as I learn another new skill!

Oh by the way, I (Crafty) have finished three WiPs that I have been working on at A Crafty Coffee, and a fourth is very soon to be complete with the fifth already started.
For me this is very exciting as I literally had NO crafting skills prior to starting the group with Coffee!

End of Half Term

After my DDs shenanigans at last week's A Crafty Coffee I was dismayed to learn that 'The Boss' was going to be working away from home leaving me with Kids A AND B to bring along to the group. Now, crafting for a six year old girl is quite a tempting prospect, not so for a 9 year old boy ... so I set to work planning appropriate activities for him before a VERY good friend offered to have him with his own sons to play football and Wii at their house. Phew!

Having learned from the previous experience taking DD with me I decided to focus my attentions on her crafts rather than mine. And, as luck would have it AS pitched up with her DD in tow and two of her little friends. So we had a full table of hot frothy milks and kiddicrafts going on. There was pom-pom making, felt purse sewing, cross stitch, colouring and of course the obligatory Nintendo DS. Why do I hate those things so much? My children hate me for it, but that changes nothing.

Trying to recall what and who else I saw is tricky as negotiating so many 6/7 year old girls addled my brain but here goes ...

CP came along with the doilies and both son and daughter. Somewhat excitingly she has asked me to quote on some graphic design work that she requires for an exhibition she is putting on in the summer. If she receives the Arts Council grant she is applying for it will mean work for Immaculate Concepts as well as for a mutual friend who is a photographer, a copywriter and of course a great show for CP.

CK popped in, and SD came along with son, daughter and a crafty mum which was nice to see. I believe she can only come along in the holidays as she works in a school.

If Coffee can remember who else was there, great. If not, MASSIVE apologies to those I missed. It just goes to show what an effect children can have on you eh?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

At last....

At last, Coffee has found the energy amidst illness (hers and children's) and lack of sleep (children's and so consequently hers) to post about February's first Crafty Coffee. Yet again, we had approaching 20 people (and a number of babies and preschoolers) with a variety of crafts. TA made her first appearance at A Crafty Coffee with the lovely I, who charmed everybody with her gorgeous smile and many questions. They brought a stash of crafting bits and bobs with them. Mmmmmm - buttons!

AS wowed us with her cupcake (designed by herself) on the jumper she is knitting for her daughter.
Crafty: She must be pretty pleased with herself because look what she treated us to later on ... further explanation later on in the post.

CP is still working on this beautiful antique doiley installation. It is representative of the little things that women do and the power and beauty that they hold when their skills are brought together. Next to her Crafty is beavering away finishing a gift bag started by her DD aged 6. She wouldn't have finished it on her DD's behalf ordinarily but the birthday party was the next day and they really needed to have it ready in time. DD designed the bag, drew the flower shape to be cut from the gingham fabric, stitched it on and blanket stitched the whole bag apart from the handles. We think we have a Crafty Coffee-er in the making!
LB returned with her vintage decs once more and next to her is a lovely little cross stitch pattern being worked up by SR.

Above is SD with yet another NEW project, she is speedy this one! Next to her is PW working on a different type of crochet. Then there is a one hour scarf, which has apparently taken five hours to date ... looking good though I think, worth the wait. Bottom right sees Coffee beavering away on the hooded cardigan. Coffee is not one for tenaciously completing a project so it is brilliant to see her bringing it back week after week to work on. To the right here is the lovely IW teaching newbie J to crochet, we just can't stop her sharing her skills, she thrives on it!

Below, DH (just realised we have two DHs) attends her final A Crafty Coffee for a while as the bank balance suggests she needs to do some paid work. Booooooo to that say we! But before she left she let me photograph one of her completed cardis as well as her WiP. We can't wait to welcome her back between jobs in the summer, or sooner if she manages to wangle the odd Friday off work.

AS's celebration (below) was particularly special, not just because she chose to share the champagne with us all at A Crafty Coffee. She has worked in educating people about the emotional effects of cancer for sometime, and prior to that had nursed in oncology (I believe) ... all told she has lived and breathed cancer for the past 20 years and is in desperate need of complete rest. Amazingly, she has handed in her notice and is taking a gap year (or 10). The particular poignance of this week for A was that she had given her last lecture, been on her last field trip and marked her last 120 exam scrpits. You could SEE the stresses flooding out of her as she knitted away, and even more so as the champagne cork popped!

Unexpected Numbers

Since most of the local schools had INSET days and so many of our number are parents, we were expecting to be depleted in number this week. AMAZINGLY though, the turnout was higher than ever with 21 adults at the time of the headcount and 9 or maybe more crafty kids, toddlers and babies.

I (Crafty) really needed the expertise of some of the crafters this week as I had arrived needing to undo some rows of knitting to beyond the button holes. I basically wanted to make my cushion cover bigger before knitting in the button holes (which is a whole new skill in itself). Fortunately, upon my arrival there was SD with her DD sat in the comfy window sofa. She is more or less a pro knitter and I was amused that she gave me a wonderful piece of advice but that when I checked how to execute it she said, 'Oh, I've never done it, I just read that it can help'! Ha ha ha, but it DID help. And I double checked with the lovely JE (our knitting artist) who helped me to get the stitches back on the needle.

Coffee may like to add something here when she is feeling a little more like herself. It won't take genius IQ levels to work out that she really has been very unwell of late.

I (Crafty) made the decision to leave Kid A at home with his Dad who was working at home but to bring Kid B who LOVES crafting and socialising. Unfortunately, Kid B couldn't be persuaded to being along one of her many WiPs (she started EVERYTHING on her birthday, peg dolls, hanging hearts, french knitting, button jewellery) and brought colouring instead. Trago Lounge is a very family friendly environment but even the staff struggled when some of the small people decided to play with the stones from the plant pots all over the floor! As one of the managers said though, 'We'll have to get used to it, we have a week of this ahead of us'. In many ways he is right, they will need to get used to children being children ... but it has made me think more carefully about how I will involve and engage Kid B if she comes next week.

Coffee may like to add something in here too as she made a real effort with an entire table of new crafters (with babies and toddlers) who were dragged along by EN.

I did make time to meet chat with JH and ZB who came along for the first time. JH is a real crafter and we'd love to see here again, ZB, her daughter, came along to get a 'feel' for the group rather than to participate but I think she was surprised at how comfortable and relaxed it all is. We LOVE that fact that experienced crafters, non-crafters, amateurs and people young and old can come together like this. Another lovely week.

Monday, 1 February 2010

January draws to a close.

So, as we kiss goodbye to January, now seems like a good time to reflect on the first month's goings on at A Crafty Coffee.

Week by week we have had approaching 20 attendees, some new faces each week, some returners and some people who are only able to attend sporadically. This is exactly how we'd hope the little crafting community would be. The Facebook group is registering 39 members which is a good indication of how large the community is but not 100% accurate as there are members who are not part of Facebook. We'd love to see more cross generational crafting and conversation and if Crafty EVER gets her backside into gear we will print off those lovely posters to promote the group in local surgeries, the library and the university.

In terms of crafting ... Coffee will have to work her magic here and put in the photos because I am new to this blogging lark. (Coffee: Magic has been worked - finally!)

This week we were pleased to welcome back OB (or LB depending who she's talking to) with her retro, hand-sewn Christmas decorations. I LOVE that she is working so far ahead of time in the hope that, somewhere in the midst of bringing up three children (one a pre-schooler), she will actually finish in time for decorating the tree. We have a mutual friend in EN who came again with her DD and bump in tow. Apparently they have also suggested to two of their NCT friends that they come along and craft with us. One of the wonderful things about A Crafty Coffee and Trago Lounge is that both are welcoming of children but neither are designed for children, so it is a place to be an adult, persue a hobby but that children can fit into and be content.

A newbie this time was CP with her DD too. I personally feel privileged to have at least two practicing artists withing the group. CP is currently exhibiting a cast iron bed in Bristol but the project she is working on at A Crafty Coffee is a portable one. She has collected an array of vintage lace doilies from charity shops and the like, and is sewing them together in an 'orchestrated random' way with a view to them becoming a suspended work of art. I am personally excited by this project because of its symbolism regarding women and crafts. Follow her progress at either http://www.chantalpowell.com or http://chantalpowell.wordpress.com

Other crafts this week included a wonderful Afghan that IW was crocheting on the largest hook I have ever seen.

She brought along some more instruments of torture with which she is going to learn to rag rug under the tuition of EN ... IW described herself as 'not to be beaten' which is why she is so keen to try out new crafts. She is also a wonderful teacher and put away her Afghan to teach another newbie (L) to crochet.

Two ladies brought along some premature baby clothes that they had knitted at the suggestion of a wonderful woman who approached the group on week one, we would love to see her return and join in one day.

CK was colouring by numbers whilst chatting to DH (who was knitting away at the speed of light). I think there must be something so wonderful about emptying your brain of all that fills it for a while and simply doing as instructed. Anybody could do it, but not everybody would, I hope she felt relaxed afterwards.

I forget what else I saw taking place, I was very tired after a tricky week with a poorly DD but that is part of what the group is about, some support and chatter over a coffee and craft. I knitted one section three times before breaking it off and starting again because white yarn discolours so easily with the natural oils on our hands. At least I had experienced knitters around me to help and explain these things.

So, having been inspired by KB's bag of coloured loveliness, I left with a WiP and an intention to embark on something completely different. Watch this space!