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Sunday, 28 February 2010

ANOTHER month comes to an end?

What?
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

Wow!
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!