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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

Friday, 21 January 2011


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.

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 along with a Flickr group 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.

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.
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?

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 so that we can publish them in our First Birthday Blog next week. Mmmm cake ...

Have fun,


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