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Friday, 19 August 2011

Been a long time: Summer catch up.

(Guest blog post from Elliot: 6 months, below.)
saß rtx

And now onto the more serious matter of catching up ...

Firstly, as usual, may I apologise for the sporadic approach to blogging for A Crafty Coffee. No excuses, it's me on my own because, although Emma is back in it ... they have a new addition to the family ... Megan arrived when I was away camping in beautiful Dorset. She's the cutest Tibetan Terrier (don't be fooled by the name, she is not in fact a terrier at all).




Craft wise, the summer is proving to be an opportunity to try out new things. Next to me right now, Stephanie and Alison are teaching Lisa to crochet. She may be a recovering perfectionist, but she's just been told to "love the mistakes" and appeared genuinely relieved to not have to unpick all of her hard work. Result.
At the weekend, my daughter and I tried out a jewellery recycling workshop at The Lounge Café. Go to The Inexpert Crafter to see more on that one.
Then, in the week, Karen and her youngest and myself and my youngest went to Poppies Crafts (no I have not missed an apostrophe) to try out Decopatch. We're beginning to think Chr*stm*s (shhhhhhh), only in terms of an event and some kind of crafty social though, I promise.
I've also observed people sewing in name tapes, which represents a shift in season, lifewise and cyclewise, Steph has one starting pre-school, I have one starting secondary school, Ruth has one in a care home (not a child of course, but a grandparent) ...




More than one of the group are returning to work, which is making them sad in the sense that they don't want to miss out on A Crafty Coffee. Born out of this, Alison and Ruth are looking into the possibility of starting a splinter group, on a Tuesday evening at The Lounge. There is a real need for people to be able to maintain contact with the group, and also for us to patronise local, small businesses to enable them to stay afloat in such trying times. All round, I think this is a wonderful idea. I am happy and confident to facilitate and publicise the second group, and really want it to share the name and identity that we have established with A Crafty Coffee, but I imagine the group will ultimately take its own shape because of the market it will draw. I have high hopes for it, and am thrilled to hear that Jenni at The Lounge is keen to support it too.


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fond Farewell

On Friday we were faced with the fond farewell ... Eddie is off (today in fact) to her homeland. She's an honorary Brit though, so the return to Denmark will potentially be as tough for her as it will be for her husband who has only holidayed there. Eddie doesn't do goodbyes, so we'll say "See you" and hope that it will be sooner rather than later.
Gonna miss you Eddie, but at least we can stay abreast of things via the worldwide web, look in our blogroll for two of the blogs Eddie writes.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I knew anyone who'd be able to knit a kitty bride and groom. And odd request no? Being part of A Crafty Coffee means that I do know people who can make most things. A knitted, cat, bride and groom ... no problem.
The lady who asked me wants them for a gift for a really good friend of hers who is getting married, a quirky gift, but a bespoke one.
I elected to ask Marion, I've seen her knit up clowns, dolls, animals, a bride and groom ... allsorts, and ALL from her head as opposed to a pattern. Here's the groom she came up with:



He's rocking isn't he? She's so talented and yet she has no idea that she is!
I think I am rambling a bit ...

Suffice to say that there are a number of crafts going on ... loads of people planning on coming throughout the holidays so we'll see what the next few weeks have in store.

Crafty and Coffee xxx

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Letter to Lucy at Attic24: an Inspiration.

I'm so sorry you lovely people, it's been practically a full month since one of us wrote a post! Emma WILL be in a position to write soon, I know she will, but for the time being it's best if I keep on keeping on.

We have news, and new members ...
One of our number is expecting a baby, whoop whoop!
One of our number is moving to Denmark, great news for her, devastating for us. Looking on the positive side, Denmark is a great place for us to visit and she is 100% keen for people to go visit so ...
We welcome not one, not two, but three new members to our real life community, and a further two to the online community!
Some of us have had holidays, some of us have holidays to look forward to.
ALL of us are beavering away on craft projects, and it seems only right and proper to credit the lovely Lucy over at Attic24 as she has inspired many of the current WsiP at ACC.
If you are an avid follower of Lucy's, you will know that she's had a really hard time recently, and has not been her usual sunshiney, bloggy self ... So Lucy, this one is dedicated to you:

I saw your vintage stripe blanket in the Blanket Fest and just knew I wanted to make one for myself, but in colours that were reminiscent of the beaches in Dorset. I thought it would be a project for next year, but when I saw Alison working up a baby doll sized one in pastels, and then I inherited yarns in perfect colours for what I was trying to achieve, I embarked on it a few short weeks ago.



Emma has, for sometime now, been working on an Attic24 inspired granny stripe blanket, and it's now too big to be portable so she'll have to dig it out to work on at home from time to time. Getting back into crafting after her own tough 12 months has been a really big deal so it will be lovely to see her rooting out some of her WsiP over the next 12.

Liv is also working up a granny stripe affair, the colours she's putting together are delicious, Lucy, you'd be so proud!



Eddie started a mini trend by using your Hexagon Blanket as the perfect project to work up her foray (with Cecile) into natural dying. Since Eddie starting on it, Karen has made a baby blanket from the same pattern, in soft hues of blue, yellow and beige, as a gift for one of the staff at Trago Lounge who is expecting her baby next month. She's working up a second one now in sweetie colours, it's like dolly mixtures, looks totally yummy! Karen's teaching newbie Lisa to crochet the same project ... and I am CERTAIN there is someone else who jumped on that bandwagon, but it is escaping me at the moment.
















So Lucy, while you've been having a rough ride, you have been unwittingly spreading the love via the medium of crochet through your beautiful blog, your stunning photography, your love for and use of colour and your genuine 'feel good' approach to life.
Thank you for sharing all you have with us, I was pleased to note that Mum is now out of hospital, you weren't far from my thoughts and prayers in that time.
Keep hooking away, living and loving life, and sharing from the Attic, we love you. xxx

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Exciting Times Ahead ...

What a lovely morning it was at ACC this week. A great turnout, we welcomed back Sue and Sarah after long breaks which was really special.
Jo treated me to an undeserved latte saying that, on her first week, someone shouted her a coffee and she's never been able to repay the favour. It's the tiniest things like that which make ACC such a fabulous group, when I hear these little anecdotes they warm my heart.

Even though I have known who she is for sometime now, Janet finally found out who I was and came to put an idea to me. She often creates hanging banners for our local church and has the idea of making six new ones for the Autumn. She thought it might me the kind of thing that some of ACC might be interested in getting involved with, and had given some consideration to how we might like to mark William and the bible verse "shine like stars in the universe" (which is used as a basis for children's work at the church). As a bizarre coincidence, three of us had been researching a new café which has a 'Stitch' room at the back only the day before.
I had tentatively suggested that we may host a Strawberry Tea for Breast Cancer Care at The Lounge, but now think that this will be the ideal location (all set up with sewing machines) to make up the banners.

So, with the banners likely to happen in The Lounge, one of my next jobs is to arrange and co-ordinate the Strawberry Tea. My home is as good a place as any, Stephanie wants to mark her Mum's triumph over breast cancer by getting involved with making goody bags and Priya has already offered up her baking skills ... all good so far. You WILL be invited in due course, patience.

And the third 'thing' we have in the pipeline is dependent on how successful my and Emma's first foray into soap making goes next week.
We went on a course last Sunday (you can read about it here) and it turns out that Alison is a very experienced soap maker who we have inspired to dig out her kit and get making!
If all goes well, we'd like to draw on her experience and generosity and run small soap making courses for interested members of ACC and beyond.



















So, milestones this week were Sarah making it along with the help of Ruth, the return of Sue who wisely brought a friend for moral support, Emma getting her knits out for the first time at ACC since, erm, February at a guess, Janet and I finally getting to meet, Lesley parting with an 80s Laura Ashley dress for me to refashion (thank you, so very kind), and not one, not two, but three 'events' in the pipeline.
This community just goes from strength to strength, we must start adding more photos to this blog so that you can see what we get up to!

Love for the week ahead
C&C
xxx

Friday, 10 June 2011

Wow wow wow Whata Lota WsiP

Loads and loads of crafters came along this morning for A Crafty Coffee. Two new ladies bobbed by to say hi, one on her day off because she thought if she didn't come then she'd never get to see what she was missing out on, and the other because she usually plays tennis but has had an op on her shoulder so is out of action. I do hope she comes back next week so that we can get to know her better.

Newlyweds Dee and Ron came in for a while which was really quite special and I was literally delighted to see Alison make a return visit, I caught her knitting out of the corner of my eye, but the table layout in Trago Lounge does mean that we are in smaller, more disparate groups than we used to be. Ah well, my positive thinking leads me to believe that we will forge more intimate relationships with a few fellow crafters this way, as opposed to having superficial relationships with lots of people.

Sadly Sarah won't be with us for a while, and some of the group members are very keen to find out how she's doing and to support her where they can. This is where I believe a community like ours really comes into its own. The craft is great, as is the conversation, but the way a group can pull together to help a friend in need is really special, and pretty rare in the society that we inhabit these days.

Want to know what was going on craftwise?
I'm crocheting a camping blanket, and 'Is' took great delight in teaching me Tunisian crochet today which could easily become a project!
Carol was knitting socks, on needles so small and fine that it looks like she's knitting on cocktail sticks.
Alison was working on blanket squares for the project she's been working on since we inspired her back in April. 2010.
Stephanie is cross-stitching Disney Princesses to go in frames in her DD's bedroom.
Su is working on a crochet cardigan for a friend, as well as a lace knit cover-up for her DD.
Karen is crocheting a border on the baby blanket that we were all contributing to for Meghan, a member of Trago Lounge staff who's expecting in September. Karen got carried away with her little hexagons and before she knew it she pretty much had the blanket all sewn up. I do think it is a very special way to show our thanks and appreciation to the staff, to make them a little gift when they reproduce.
Amy was making the Peter Pan collars from Mollie Makes, her friend whipping up sock monkeys at a rate of knots.
Liv chose to work on her crocheted shawl, I'm led to believe it is to be a gift so she needs to get a shift on.
And that's all I can reliably report on, but I know there were other things going on and that there were at least seven crafters present who have remained un-named this week.

I am sorry I don't get round all of you anymore, there is something about that 'bride at a wedding' thing that is so lovely, but also so superficial. And it always meant that my own craft never got touched.

See as many of you next week as can be there.
Love Crafty.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Resolving Conflict

Well hello lovely crafters and coffee drinkers.

Crafty here, was rather hoping Coffee would be back at the helm soon, partly for her own benefit, but also so you could all hear from her directly since it's been an age since she's managed to blog anything.

Anyway, for the time being you are stuck with me I'm afraid. And I have two weeks to catch up on with you all.
We have finally welcomed Coffee (Emma) back into our warm embrace. I think, with what she, Sheena and Sue have been through, it is important that we are all as loving and 'normal' (whatever that is) as we can be, whilst still obviously acknowledging that they are grieving.
For me though, it's just nice to have my partner in crime back, no matter what else has been going on, it is just wonderful to have my old buddy back nearby.

So, crafts I have seen over the last couple of weeks are as varied as usual, and I myself have been inspired by Eddie to do a spot of refashioning (InexpertCrafter). I've seen crochet and knitting, obviously. But also cross stitch and jewellery making which was refreshing.
Being part of a crafty community has its benefits when you come to planning an event. Our Steph is planning a bit of a Fairy Gathering for her little Roo's 3rd birthday, and lovely Lesley has given her some Flower Fairy bits and pieces which will go on sticks in the garden to enhance the ambience. How lovely?

Now, onto a slightly more difficult matter ... since the staff of Trago Lounge have undergone a complete turnover, I have been very remiss in my duties of getting to know everyone. This was an error on my part and has resulted in one of the assistant managers being a little offhand with us on more than one occasion. Now, I decided to do something about this because A Crafty Coffee is a very important group of pretty vulnerable people and we need to have a comfortable environment and a happy atmosphere to continue.
What I have done is pointed out that there is a problem, introduced myself and helped to put a new strategy in place so that there is less difficulty delivering hot drinks to the right customer amongst the hubub of chattering and cackling women.
And this week, by way of a thank you and an apology, the coffees are on The Loungers.
When asked at the till for your name, it is to enable the waiting staff to get your drink to you and not just loosely to the area in which you are sat. Please help us to help the team get this right, service with a smile is their aim and our desire.

Anyway, enough of my gabling for today. I do really hope that you will have a change of author in the next few weeks.

Much love
C&C xx

Monday, 9 May 2011

Lego Lighthouses and A Celebration


Hello All.
We met again on Friday, Trago Lounge have rearranged the furniture again and this way is really not conducive to a social space for us crafters. Especially as we welcomed two new members who found us on the Stitch 'n' Bitch site. It was really hard to physically include them though I do think we were welcoming so I expect them back one day.

I was rather hoping Emma might make her return this week, but she has been fighting a nasty virus since before William died and she is truly exhausted.
In her absence, can I extend her invitation to you to come and celebrate William's life? The celebration service will be held this Saturday, 14th, at 11am in Highfield Church and there will be refreshments afterwards. It will be entirely family friendly.

Perhaps you are sat wondering about the Lego® lighthouse? William wanted to be a Lego® designer when he grew up (just like my own son wants to be) and he planned to invent a Lego® lighthouse. Little did he know that Lego® are already bringing out a lighthouse in June, they must have read his mind huh? Anyway, that is the significance of the image.

Love to you all, see you Friday and I hope on Saturday too.
C (&C) xxx

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Good Friday-Resurrection Sunday, Hope.

On Good Friday a handful of us met in Trago Lounge to craft and chat. Amy was there in the calm before the storm as she was performing in the Southampton Passion later that evening, Eddie was spinning, and flitting between at least two other projects, Cecile came and span, Karen mopped me up and held babies and totally spoilt both my daughter and hers, all in all it was a lovely morning.

A lovely morning, with the undercurrent of knowing that a little boy was suffering, and a Mum and Dad were suffering watching their little lad struggling. We all knew the end of little William's life on Earth was drawing closer, what we couldn't know was when he would go to rest.

Now, whether you are familiar or not with the Easter story, I will share a little of it here. The gist of it is that Jesus and friends went to celebrate the passover (Jewish festival, greatly significant, look it up) ... and on the day we call Good Friday (for reasons I don't yet know), Jesus was turned over to the authorities by one of his buddies and tried (if you can call it that) for blasphemy. He was sentenced to death and later crucified.
It was told by Jesus that this would be the sequence of events and that on the third day he would rise from the dead and walk with them once more.

The story that leads up to the crucifixion is filled with high drama and makes an excellent play, but it is the story thereafter that gives us hope.

William died in the small hours of Easter Day, Resurrection Sunday. That he died on that particular day is a poignant reminder of the Christian message of hope in eternity. I do understand that most of the people reading this post will not be Christians, but I for one am so pleased that William's Mum, Dad and brother have a hope, a peace and a security about where William is now.

And the bluebells, William is to be buried in a sustainable way that is quiet and considers our planet. As opposed to marking graves, families may plant native wild flowers and William's favourite colours were blue and green, I sat among the delightful, heady fragrance and photographed the bluebells in my garden for this post, I will never see a bluebell again and not think of the cheeky little lad that touched so many of us in his short life.

Friday, 8 April 2011

When William refers to a Lego Beach Party, I am not sure that this is what he has in mind. But since this post is going to be a tough one to write, I thought a beachy, Lego-y image might do the trick.
Both of the Reynolds' boys love Lego, really love it! Throughout William's hospital stays he has been spoilt rotten with Lego bravery treats, Lego gifts and of course, Lego birthday gifts too. He is Legoed right up!

My little lad sent me up to Bristol last week armed with some of his best Lego Minifigures (including some StarWars ones) for William to enjoy. We share the Lego love in this house too. On Thursday Emma called me with a confession that Yoda had gone missing, I couldn't stress enough that she had bigger things to concern herself with and that nothing material is irreplacable. I am glad we had that conversation.

Yesterday evening she called me again to say that they would be coming home. I knew that this meant they were coming home so that William could enjoy his last few weeks at home with friends and family. I was shocked that the news had come earlier than anticipated, and I am not sure I handled the call that well at all, but Emma and Steve both have a real sense of peace at the moment which is testament to their faith.

This morning I went along to ACC as usual but I knew there would be people there to share the burden of breaking the news, I was relieved to see I and Karen, with a huddle around them so that I hardly had to tell anybody at all. People are being very kind and supportive which is nice, but in truth, I don't know how to feel ...

I echo my daughter's prayers that Emma and Steve and Edward don't struggle too much and that William has fun while he's alive and it doesn't hurt when he dies. Children are amazing!

Thanks to all of you for being a part of the ACC community, for all that we share in the good times and the bad, for the fact that we are all there for each other, and for all of your offers of help.

Much love to all of you.
Crafty (Dee) and Coffee (Emma)
xxx

Friday, 1 April 2011

A Blue Ford Cortina













At the very least, the post title will have got your attention, am I wrong?

This morning's ACC started out as an intimate affair with Alison quietly enjoying a latte whilst pondering whether we had a new venue unbeknown to her. After a time, Liv joined her with little K, and it wasn't much longer before I rocked up myself and put my order in for a large americano.

For those who are waiting, there is no news as yet from the Reynolds'. I will let you know, I promise. For now, Emma is 'coping' ... as best as one can I think, W has been unwell with a chest infection, Dad is to-ing and fro-ing and exhausting himself in the process and E is doing okay, living with Grandma and Granddad but missing his Mummy very much.

The group was slow to grow this morning but at some point or other it did spread to three large tables of crafters/chatters.
Our table was graced with the presence of, well why don't you guess who?, who swiftly took our minds away from life's ills with her comedic tales, most of which involve knickers in one way or another. Whether it was selling glimpses of her knicks for Smarties in the woods, or unwittingly flashing her crocheted pants through her split pinafore, she had tale after tale to get us in stitches this morning. A personal favourite, that had me laughing for quite sometime, was the tale of a sister of a friend of a sister ... or something like that.
Apparently, the poor girl was flashed at in the woods. When asked by the police if the man had an erection, she is alleged to have responded, "No, I think he had a blue Ford Cortina."
Laughter, that great relief for all other pent up emotions.
I for one thank you from the bottom of my heart for the light relief you provided this morning, after a heavy laden, emotional week, it was a blessing!

It wasn't all fun and laughter, we did have some proper conversation too, covering attracting menfolk, understanding and communicating with your other half, sex and relationship education, depression, kids' eating habits, allsorts really. And there were even crafts happening alongside all of this.

I'm missing having my partner in crime around, missing you Coffee!
Until next week ...
Love
C (&C from a distance)
xx

Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring has sprung, clocks go forward this weekend ...

A definite air of Spring having sprung was with ACC this morning, the sunshine was promising 17º of heat, there were smiles on faces, a few less layers on bodies and a general air of happiness.

I settled myself into a corner armchair in the window and attempted to help out the new staff members (yup, not a single member of the original team remains) with their administering of teas and coffees among the cackling, chattering women.

I was literally thrilled when Jo came in with baby J. It's been months since we caught up, she last came to ACC in November, and we last heard from Jo when J arrived in the world at the beginning of January. Needless to say, my first question was a friendly, "How are you doing?". I was anticipating birth details, new baby woes and tales of sibling rivalry but instead Jo responded, "You know those women's weekly magazines? ... My life has been a bit like one of the cover stories in those."
When baby J was just 6 days old, Jo received a diagnosis of mouth cancer having been a little suspicious of some ulcers that weren't healing, and an eventual large lump. This is a good news story in that surgery has removed all of the cancer, and Jo's desire and persistance were taken seriously by her carers enabling her to continue to breastfeed baby J. However, this has clearly been a tumultuous start to the year, Jo is having to relearn speaking and eating, though I must add that the speech is clearly coming on really well. We do hope to be able to support her now that she is back with us, providing light relief, love, and just looking our for her as the scars heal and the emotional scars start to show themselves. In my eternal optimism that something good must always come out of somthing bad, Jo was able to share that no less than five of her friends have given up smoking as a result of this. Jo is not and was not a smoker but smokers and heavy drinkers are at increased risk of such cancers and she was clearly happy to report that her situation had inspired her friends.

Loads of you asked after Emma and W. I was comfortable to report that W is well, in the sense that he is not showing signs of being unwell, though he is still seriously ill. This is good and bad, nobody would want him to suffer, but it's hard to believe he is so ill when he appears so well. Emma is coping, sometimes well, sometimes less so, but I was glad to have visited her and offer a chat, bit of fresh air, shoulder to cry on ... I have no idea if I am doing a good job but I do pass on everybody's good wishes from ACC when they ask me to. Emma; everyone sends their love.

As for crafts of the morning; knitted sheep, knitted socks, knitted baby booties, crocheted blanket, crocheted scarf, kid silk armwarmers, a lace weight matinée jacket, a knitted ruffle scarf, to name but the items I could readily see. There were the usual number (I think) of crafters and a good time was had by all.

Happy Spring.
C&C
xx

Friday, 18 March 2011

Untitled

I have no idea what to call this post, it's been a few weeks since we last wrote and it's been a trying time. I have bad news, slightly less bad news, and some crafty news which is always good.

Let's start at the start shall we?
Last time we posted we had babies to celebrate and baristas to miss but not too much to concern ourselves with other than Coffee's ongoing mental health problems. Thank you so very much to all those of you who do pray because we have seen an uplift in her mental stability enabling her to be able to enjoy her family and look after them well. This has never been more poignant than it is right now.

Sadly, last Thursday, the bone marrow results came back showing that William's marrow was really full of leukaemic blast cells. It meant that the chemo had barely touched it and that a transplant was out of the question. Being so close to Emma (Coffee), I understood that this meant they were running out of options, but nothing could have properly prepared me for how I might feel when she broke that news. We cried together. What else could we do?
The family have now moved to Bristol to take part in a medical study using a trial concoction of chemotherapy. Earlier this week, liver screening potentially ruled them out of the study but thank God, they didn't have to abandon hope so quickly and the chemo has now started. The chance of this working is very slim, but there is a chance, and therefore there is hope.

As a group, ACC have wanted to support the family as best we can at a distance. Obviously, I shall go and visit, and people within the group are meeting to pray. One of our number has made a couple of 'hope' bags for the boys which people have contributed books and toys to. It feels like there is little more we can do at such an uncertain and traumatic time but at least we are all there for each other too.

Now that I have got the bad news and the slightly more hopeful news out of the way, we can move back to the crafts of the past week or two.
We've had usual numbers of 20ish people in attendance with knitting, spinning, crochet, cross-stitch, chat, coffee, clothing alterations etcetera etcetera and we've been so privileged by people's willingness to share their craft in the form of tutorial. No longer is it down to Isobel to do all of the teaching, though I am incredibly grateful that she got me started on the crochet! But now, Eddie has been teaching me unravelling, skeining, and ply balling of yarn, Cecile will share with anyone who's interested how to spin yarn, even I found myself in the position of showing Jill how my wool-eater blanket worked! As a novice myself, it tickled me that I was showing someone how to do something, I don't even know the terms but Jill is a visual learner so it mattered not.
On the whole, the crafting is going very well, and the community, through such desperately tough times as sick children, bereavement, ill-health, difficult finances, unemployment ... well the community is fused. We are supportive, close knit (pun intended) but not closed, loving, generous, caring. I am so thrilled to be a part of A Crafty Coffee and hope all members feel the same.

C x (&C from a distance)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Babies, broodiness and baristas.

It's kind of all in the title there.
Today was all about the babies, the broodiness and the baristas, or the loss of two of them.

I had a message posted on facebook telling me that there were 'randoms in ACC spot! No crafts to be seen.'
She was right, there were indeed 'randoms' in the spot that ACC usually occupy, and we welcome them. Soon enough they were swamped by crafters so, if they come again on a Friday morning, I hope they feel able to join in.

Anyway, today we were graced with the presence of no fewer than three babies, ages ranging from a week and a half to three months. Much broodiness was inspired by Elliot, Lucy and Kezia (who, incidentally, has grown much longer all of a sudden). I had no idea that some of our number are literally family planning so it was lovely to have all the babies around to inspire the conversations. It is always good for there to be new ways of becoming closer to people, new ways to deepen friendships.
Seeing my little girl with newborn Elliot in arms even made me feel broody. I am not a fan of babies generally, I kind of prefer children who give you some feedback, plus, I have had to write off the idea of having four children because the births were tricky and the medical advice was 'no more'. For me to feel broody is unusual, and was very surprising. At least I wasn't alone.

Now for the baristas. Our beloved Pip, who has been with Trago Lounge since before it opened, is leaving us for pastures new. Obviously, we wish him the very best in his new position (less hours, more money) but we will miss him very much. Well, I will certainly miss our banter across the bar, and his very unique take on 'service with a smile'.
Already left reeling and feeling bereft with the last member or the original Trago team working his notice, the lovely Lee announced that he was going back home. Lee is from Nashville, Tennessee and has the accent to prove it. He has been in the UK for almost a year as his wife had a contract to work here on some global initiative. We were first wowed by Lee's style of service and particularly friendly ways relatively recently, but he has often been thrown in on the Friday morning shift because he clearly has a knack with the ladies. Again, we'll miss him, but wish him well in his new ventures in pharmacology (a whole new field for him).
With the moving on of staff, there will always be the greeting of new people. What a treat this morning to be served by a lovely young man ... will find out his name asap ... thankfully, he had at least been warned about ACC and the perils of serving a large group of cackling female crafters, and he's definitely cut out for it.

The usual array of crafts was covered this morning, but today it was way more about the cuddles, the coffee and the chat.

C&C
xx

PS, William is 'well', but his Mum has been really struggling again. It was such a relief to see her this morning and to be able to chat with her. I so hope she feels better for coming along.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Happy Birthday William

Emma and William are still in hospital and today William celebrates his 7th birthday. He was pretty excited about it by all accounts so we all wish him a very special day.

Needless to say, although Emma is now in a position to consider leaving the hospital and leaving W in the company of a grandparent, today was NOT the day that she would make a return to ACC. William is relatively well in himself at the moment, experiencing some pain and he tires easily but nothing unmanageable which is a comfort. Emma and Steve are 'as well as can be expected' and are making the effort to spend some time together, and little brother E is a little ray of sunshine, or a little burst of energy, depending on how you look at it. All in all, prayers are being answered so far.

And so to this morning. Portswood Primary School is on INSET day so myself and a couple of other ACC-ers brought along our children. My mini-me and I were making peg dolls, the mum and daughter next to us were making a knit and felt patchwork bag ... the knitting from 8 year old A was simply brilliant!
We had Cecile next to us spinning some silk yarn, according to my daughter it felt "lovely", silk is her favourite material so it was great for her to see it being spun into a useable yarn.
Lesley was opposite us knitting something in a beautiful, vibrant turquoie colour.
Jill was talking about a quilted bag she might make as a gift.
I saw some crochet (Carole) and much knitting (Karen, Eddie, Liv, and more) and coffee drinking going on around me, there was a general buzz of love and support and I just about remembered to share the big news of the week ...

Our fourth (I think) A Crafty Coffee baby:
Stephanie gave birth to Elliot Fyfe on valentine's day, he was 7lbs 11oz and they are both doing great at the moment. Hopefully some of you ACC members will chip in with cooking the odd meal and generally looking out for the family?

Love to you all.
C&C
xxx

Friday, 11 February 2011

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

That's what we're here for, a community of loving friends, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Last week, the only thing I had to concern myself with was the lack of camera at A Crafty Coffee, things have changed a lot since then.

It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotion this week for everyone who knows Crafty, Coffee, A Crafty Coffee and Emma's family.
William went to hospital on Sunday, he'd been under the weather and his Mum and Dad became increasingly concerned that his leukaemia may have returned so they took him to the ward for an early blood test. NOBODY could have predicted the outcome. When he was diagnosed the first time round, William had a white blood cell count of 250 which was excessive and dangerous. This time the count was 470. For the leukaemia to have returned to soon and so aggressively after remission was a really bad sign, and with his counts so high, a night in PICU was in order.
Now, you will all know that Emma (Coffee) has herself been wrestling with ill health, she was in fact still in hospital when all this happened but, needless to day, the staff have been supportive in allowing her to be there for her little lad.

On Monday evening, Emma called me to tell me that they had spoken with the consultant and that the outlook was bleak, she was clearly devastated, as was I.
Attempting to support someone through this is painful and difficult, you are helpless and powerless, yet you know you could say or do something that could upset or offfend.
It is good that I've had to wait until today (Friday) to be writing this blog post because, since Monday evening, things have changed slightly for the better.
William's leukaemia has responded (somewhat unexpectedly) to the chemotherapy, his white cell count was down to 1.7 last time I heard, he has been well and stable enough to have a central line put in (which was necessary, but that looked like it may be difficult) and there is some hope that they may be able to do a bone marrow transplant.
The future is by no means certain, and the family are aware of this, but a glimmer of hope is something to hold on to.

A Crafty Coffee plays host to some wonderful, supportive and loving people. The group have rallied round setting up prayer sessions (those who pray), communicating news as it arrives, supporting the Grandmothers (both attend ACC when they can), supporting the family as best they can etc
So today, I should have known to expect the quizzing and questioning from those who want to help and support, and from those who haven't had the information filtered down to them in detail. I didn't expect it though, I wasn't prepared. As I said earlier, it is really painful to attempt to walk through this with someone so close, so I guess I was hoping for a teeny tiny escape this morning.
Nonetheless, I think I did a decent job of keeping people filled in without breaking down on them, and I even knitted a little more of Baby Chapman's blanket so that was good.

I was even treated to being party to more frivolous conversation about hand spun yarns, crafts and costings, Folksy, Etsy etc. These matters are actually important, how we price work if we want to sell it, how we can be undermined by people underpricing their work or overpricing their work when they use lower price materials and the like. But the perspective was definitely there this morning, these things do matter, but in the grand scheme of things, they're not really worth being stressed over.

If you pray, please pray for Emma, Steve, William and Edward, and all of those in their extended families, and the friends attempting to support them.

Thanks
Love C&C xx

Friday, 4 February 2011

Coffee, Craft & Conversation, but NO Camera ...

Whooooooooooops.

Crafty strikes again with her complete inability to organise the proverbial ...
Armed with three 'on the go' knitting projects, having dyed my hair at about 7.30am and delivered the children safely to school, I was pleased to arrive in the oasis of calm that is Trago Lounge before any other crafters turned up. Very pleased indeed, until that is, I remembered that I had intended to bring the camera in order to be able to beautify our blog with some stunning works of craft.

Nevertheless, I approached the bar, ordered myself a large americano with space for milk, sat myself in the window sofa (comfort AND light), and proceeded to continue with my [no laughing please] knitted veggie bag. I was able to enjoy a few minutes to myself before Helen arrived bringing with her a few waifs and strays who weren't otherwise planning on coming. It was nice to welcome Sarah who has only just been introduced to the delights of A Crafty Coffee. She confessed to having started a granny square blanket and a crocheted scarf for her daughter, but having finished neither. We chatted and I hope I have persuaded her to come again with her blanket (or could it be a cushion cover, more instant gratification) or her scarf to finish off.

Helen also dragged in other regulars like Ali and Jilly, but she was primarily meeting with Bex and Sarah F to discuss plans for a Bollywood dance film that should be taking place at our children's school. I'm seriously hoping to get the chance to dance, I love a good boogie, me.

I was able to sit and chat with Emma and Celia for a bit, all three of us were knitting which, since Emma's now completely hooked (pardon that dreadful pun) to the crochet, was a bit of a surprise. The crafters this week spread over 4-5 tables which means there were somewhere between 20 and 30 people in attendance. With that in mind I am sure you'll forgive me not knowing exactly what was going on where. Suffice to say I saw many busy hands, many empty cups and many wagging chins.

Now, in terms of 'family news', Emma is a voluntary patient which means she can come out on leave so long as it is deemed safe, so she was able to be there this morning but is still very unwell and struggling.
Stephanie is only four weeks away from delivering her little lad into the world. Her little Ruby is a proper little treasure and will make a great big sis, I hope we will be a good support to them when the time comes.
Priya is spending many hours feeding Kezia which is very trying. Kezia is still very small, but is reaching all developmental milestones so we're just hoping that Priya and James will find the best solution for all three of them.
Emma N has had a bit of a low patch. Her not so little lad is drinking her dry and she has lost an alarming amount of weight, between that and running around after a very fun and active daughter, she really has her work cut out for her.

So, for any of you praying types. Do keep the above, and their families, in mind over the coming week(s).

C&C
xxx

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Great Turnout

I guess I have come to expect 20-30 people to arrive each week now, but Dee (H) returned for a one off visit this week and was really surprised at how the group had grown. She's spent 6 weeks sailing round the Caribbean, and has come back engaged with a date in the diary for the wedding! MASSIVE Congrats to the both of you, we wish you every happiness. We're gutted that you won't be back at A Crafty Coffee before the big day.

There were loads of crafts represented this week as usual, and there were two additions to our number which was really lovely. They've definitely said they are returning which is great news.
Sarah was there in comfy corner seats under her massive blanket, I must photograph it next week, it is just brilliant. She came without her sticks or wheelchair this week, she is putting it down to pilates, myself and her instructor, Priya, think that it may be the combination of pilates and prayer.
Priya managed to knit a few rows between feeding Kezia and zipping of to take her for her first swimming class.

I (Crafty) was really struggling to concentrate myself, I had arranged a business meeting in Trago Lounge for after ACC but it meant that I wasn't able to give the group my full attention. It's been a really challenging week for me and I have been attempting to overcome some real hurdles workwise.
It's been a trying week for Coffee (Emma) too, but for very different reasons. I reported last week that she'd been very low, and had some paranoid episodes. This week has been worse. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, she was admitted to hospital yesterday evening. Sadly, her care so far has been somewhat lacking, in that she wasn't even provided with her washbag and pjs for 18 hours, meaning that she had to sleep in her clothes and was unable to even brush her teeth. This is not a good start, that said, she's reported to me today that she's got a window and her crochet so it's not all bad.

Owing to the two paragraphs above, I couldn't list who I saw or what crafts I noticed going on. I struggled to even maintain a conversation, though I did chat with Amy a little, she's not been in ages so it was lovely to see her and so see what she's working on. There will be a Passion play performed in the city and Amy is raising funds by selling her crochet flower embellished hair accessories. They look lovely and she's already sold her initial stock and moved onto filling orders!

I do hope that next week's blog post will be full of colour and life ... MUST remember the camera.

Lots of love
C&C

Friday, 21 January 2011

Diverstity

Today's conversations were about as far flung as you can possibly imagine. What is the plural of 'dominatrix'? to single-parenting. I'm not sure there is any more ground we could have covered if we'd tried.

We chatted about retro weddings a la Chapman, sexy geeky looking men like David Tennant and Derren Brown, raising kids, knit alongs, a world in love, PVFS or ME, mental health, ill hubbies, moody hubbies, privacy settings on computers, whilst we beavered away on knitted scarves/blankets/jumpers/cardigans/tea cosies/shawls, crocheted scarves/blankets, and cross-stitch.

I have been the very priviledged recipient of Coffee's first crocheted scarf. It is a beautiful blue and is so long that it will wrap around twice or loop tie 'Trinny and Susannah style'. I was unwrapped from my cosy scarf by at least two members of the group so that they could admire the handiwork.

It was such a pleasure to see Sarah with her friend Emma. Sarah is currently using a chair as she is in so much pain (ME), and she is suffering new symptoms which is a cause for concern. I hope that being in Trago with us and working some more on her lovely blanket has lifted her mood slightly as she's really been feeling desperately low lately.

And another suffering member of our gang is Coffee (Emma). She's been spending many hours in Trago Lounge in a bid to avoid hospital admission but she's still really low. Obviously, for those of us who have had the odd half hour here and there to pop in and spend time with her it's been fun, but for her it's just really heavy going.

You may be forgiven for thinking that the mood was low over the group this morning, but even with some people struggling so much there was howling laughter when Ruth managed to cover herself in coffee in such a way that she looked like she had continence issues. Even one of the 'homeworkers' from Southampton Jelly came over to see what all the fuss was about.
We have a good time, the craft is pretty frivolous but the community is meaningful, we aim to support each other through the lows and enjoy the higher points together.

I'm signing off now with my headache :o(
See you next week.
C&C
xxx

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A World in Love.

Here's something a little bit special for the coming month. How much of the world can we share the love with by making a heart, taking it to someplace special and photographing it? Eddie at ACC has started this group on her blog http://roued.com/greyduckling/a-world-in-love/ along with a Flickr group http://www.flickr.com/groups/1600626@N21/ where we can share our images and locations.
I have already fallen head over heels in love with this idea. Loads of us at ACC can knit and crochet, but how many other crafts can we represent in this challenge? Cross stitch, redwork, embroidery, patchwork, papercraft, weaving, felting, typography, jewellery making, carving, hardanger, lace ... who knows.

Do contribute, either directly to the Flickr group, or via Eddie's blog, or even the group she's set up on Ravelry.

Get your mates on board, and let's see if we can represent a World in Love.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Our 1st Birthday

I'm just reading our post from January 15th 2010. That was the first official meeting of A Crafty Coffee and what a meeting it was. We counted 18 attendees that day, and saw so many projects on the go, it was such an exciting time.

Do you think we have maintained the buzz that surrounded that first meeting?
Are we as welcoming as a group as we were that first Friday?
Do people still enjoy coming to A Crafty Coffee?

Over time, I would always assume that the initial flurry of excitement would wane and that the numbers would tail off to a core clique of people. To my amazement and glee, the opposite is true of A Crafty Coffee. Our numbers have increased significantly. Upon ordering the bubbly at the bar this morning, I didn't know how many glasses to ask for but I was told that the rough head count was 34. 34!!! That's THIRTY FOUR people crafting away, bumps, babes and pre-schoolers in tow for some, all manner of life's ills in tow for others, but there we all are. 34 represents about half of our actual members, some people attend more sporadically, others are there week after week after week.



















As for whether or not we are welcoming, that is hard for me to personally testify to because I have not arrived as a newcomer at any stage. What I can say though, is that people tend to come once, and come back. I can barely think of two people who have tried us out and not yet returned, and one of those has been in touch to say that she felt really welcome but that with a stolen bike, car in the garage, and the early arrival of her wee son, she's not been able to make it back YET. In lieu of her attendance, she sent us this pic of her precious bundle, the 'thing' she is most chuffed with creating so far this/last year. He's just 1 week and 1 day old today. Aw.























In terms of whether people are still enjoying ACC, I would say the numbers speak for themselves. But more than that, today, at our little party, more than one person made a point of telling me that it was the highlight of their week. A couple of us vowed that we would not work on a Friday as it is so important to us. And Ruth has twice gone out of her way to share really encouraging stories demonstrating why ACC matters so much.

On January 15th last year there were so many projects to take in. It is wonderful to be able to share now that Coffee(Emma)'s cardi is complete, as are Liv's tree decs, my bear, Paula has taken her crocheting from strength to strength and I couldn't possibly count how many WsiP have been brought, shared and completed over the last 12 months. I asked for members to share photos of some of their works, here is a small selection ...


































































And now to today.

We have had a wonderful birthday celebration with cupcakes enjoyed by all, prosecco or sparkling elderflower for bubbles and a proper giggle.
We welcomed Barbara (the group is never the same without her, what a massive personality) back with her new babe, we're doing well on small people to cuddle up with these days.
{4 babies and counting, several toddlers and the odd poorly school child on occasion.}
Trago Lounge were as welcoming and accommodating as ever they have been, permitting us to partake in these little beauties and generally waiting on us hand and foot ...























And, on top of all that, we still made time for a spot of crafting.
Here's to the next 12 months.


















Thank you all.
C&C
xxx

Thursday, 13 January 2011

1 Sleep!


Preparations have been underway for the last few days to mark A Crafty Coffee's 1st birthday. The lovely Pip at Trago Lounge very kindly permitted us to bring birthday cupcakes. I was worried about doing them out of sales, but let's face it, we bring in masses of business each Friday morning and so often people stay on for lunch. Anyway, we're not planning on bringing out the cupcakes until about half ten, that way we can share in a glass of fizz (either boozy fizz or sparkling elderflower) to mark us reaching this milestone.

So, what have I managed in terms of prep? Well, I researched some cupcake decorating styles and found some 'yarn frosting'. Fancy. http://www.momlogic.com/2010/08/crafty_cupcakes_edible_yarn.php
This inspired me. My darling friend Thaya (who has now moved to NZ) bought me the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook at Easter, sadly, this was also when my oven stopped working. I've had this stunning book, full of the most beautiful food photography and tempting recipes for the entire time we were without an oven, how cruel is that? There must be something special in the timing though, we got a new oven just before Christmas and never has it been more needed than now. I have whipped up Lavender cupcakes with lavender 'wool' icing, silver balls and lavender flowers, Ginger cupcakes with ginger coloured lemon 'wool', stem ginger and sugar strands, and Vanilla cupcakes with pink vanilla 'wool' and sugar butterfly sprinkles.
Never let it be said that I don't know how to throw a birthday party.
My only concern now, the night before, is that 36 will not be enough cupcakes for A Crafty Coffee and the Trago Lounge staff. I am seriously considering nipping out to buy eggs to make a batch of Coffee cupcakes just in case. Would that be one step too far?

I am rather hoping the post from tomorrow's ACC will be a photofest of everything we have achieved this year, if not, perhaps it will be full to bursting with us lot eating cake and drinking flutes of fizz?

1 sleep, excited? Me?
C
xx

Friday, 7 January 2011

New year, new craft!

Happy New Year!

What were your highlights of 2010?
What are your aspirations for 2011?

It is so easy to get caught up in the negatives, I don't know a single person who didn't have something to struggle through in 2010 but writing it off as 'a bad year' seems a little unfair to me. You may have noticed from the year of blog posts that Coffee and family have had a particularly trying year, yet even they can find highlights to speak of!

In terms of crafting, my highlights are lengthy.
Completing the three bears at the beginning of the year for Aurora, Naomi and Leya is a big highlight. All three bears (named Star, Biscuit and Pearl) have been gratefully received and are being well loved.






Making Naomi's 'Go Anywhere Blanket' was a real labour of love. I learned so many knitting techniques, but in order to finish the blanket off I needed to learn to use the sewing machine too! To help with this, I made a few strings of bunting (for my new Bell Tent) and a few child sized aprons. This really boosted the confidence and, whilst I know the blanket is imperfect, I am thrilled with what I have learned and would know what to change to make some improvements.































I hope that other A Crafty Coffee members have achieved as much as I feel I have. The year has flown by and I am amazed at how many different works I have seen going on around me.
Another highlight has to have been the work you all put into the sale(s). Raising over £1600 in the end, we sold everything from jewellery to candles, cross-stitch to scarves, baby blankets to tree decorations and everything in between.

To be a part of this, and to watch a group pull together in support and love, has been a huge privilege. I know, I know ... I've gone all sentimental on you. But seriously, as a group we have supported each other through parenting trials, ill-health (both physical and mental), pregnancy and early baby days, bereavement, sick loved ones and much much more. Who would have thought at the outset that a craft group could serve that purpose?

I have crafty aspirations and life aspirations. For now, I will share that Isobel started to teach me to crochet this morning. She was tutoring at least two others that I noticed, hence, New Year, New Craft being the title of this post.

With all of that in mind, and considering my personal aspirations for 2011, it is worth thinking about what the aspirations for ACC should be this year.
• ACC on a Friday morning will continue exactly as it always has, a group for people who craft/want to craft/want company and are available on a Friday morning. A Crafty Coffee meets a need in our local community!
• I imagine that we will hold another sale later in the year.
• I hope that we will have an away day or trip of some description.
• There is a mooted idea of some kind of craft course/tutorial sessions whereby we can pick up a new skill.

I wonder how much of the above we will be reporting back on in January 2012 ...

In addition though, being as so many of us are either christians (small 'c' intended), interested in the big life questions, or spiritually minded, we would like to set up a secondary group where we can explore faith in more detail. This group will meet on a Wednesday between lunch and school pick up and will probably happen in homes. All are welcome, but we recognise the need for this to be separate to ACC as, while we all have craft in common, we may not have spirituality in common.
The group will be a safe place where we can have discussions, ask the questions we've never been brave enough to ask without feeling stupid, explore what the bible says about life in general, explore who we are, who/if God is etc. It is not necessary for attendees to have an active faith, an interest in chatting about the bigger things in life is all that's required.

So, not wishing this blog to be an 'all about me bag', I ask that you will send your craft photos of 2010 to acraftycoffee@yahoo.co.uk so that we can publish them in our First Birthday Blog next week. Mmmm cake ...

Have fun,
C&C

xxx

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Year's Eve crafting

Well, Crafty was not alone for the NYE crafting. In fact she wasn't even able to be there as, with a broken down family car, she and the rest of the Crafty Clan were having to make a torturous train journey (several changes) to the friends with whom they were spending New Year's Eve.

It was a small and select group that gathered for the last A Crafty Coffee of 2010, but, as ever, we drank coffee, ate the Trago Lounge's beautiful breakfasts and pastries, talked and talked (a lot about how our Christmases had gone - some good, some bad), crafted and admired each others' creations. I'm afraid I (Coffee) was feeling pretty low (I'm going through a bad patch with my bipolar disorder) so please forgive me if I miss anyone out or get anything wrong.

It was lovely to see Sarah, who is still very under the weather. When I arrived she was snuggled under a wonderful log cabin knitted blanket, which is her current WiP, so I settled down with her with my blanket squares. We were joined by Claire who quickly got stuck in to her Humphrey's Corner cross stitch (which I have my eye on as my youngest LOVES Humphrey). Sheena came and wowed us all with yet more scarves. (We'll need to have another sale sooner rather than later at this rate!) Several presents were underway: Susan (with her lovely daughter in tow) was crocheting a beautiful purple scarf, Celia (with 'gorgeous as ever' boys with her) a lovely hat, and Carol (who had manage to arrive child-free :) ) a smart jumper for one of her boys.

It was a quiet end to the year, but one that involved coffee, crafting and, most importantly, deepening friendships. See you in the New Year everyone!

Coffee xxx