I have been asked to make a presentation at one of the local WI meetings on the subject of “The importance of crafts in education” and it has been fascinating revisiting educational topics and linking them with my new life running Craftopia.


Without doubt, the strongest  element has been the joy of making with like minded people and the tactile joy of working with textiles. When children work together they do so effortlessly. This is because this is the norm for them , it is unusual for children to work in isolation – especially in recent educational styles, collaboration is key.


For adults , we can sometimes find this somewhat intimidating. We also may not have friends with the same interests especially when it comes to crafting. When I was working overseas I felt adrift in some social circles, we had teaching and education in common but not a  love of yarn and textiles.


Over the last 9 months, since I returned to the UK and took over Craftopia, my circle of friends has grown super quickly. Everyone who walks through the door shares my love of crafting, we share not just a common interest but a deep understanding of the benefits that craft provides. We talk about patterns, trends, quality of 100% wool over a blend, colours, concepts, skills and on it goes, always generous and rarely intimidating. 


It has been brilliant to organise and participate in our “maker Space’ workshops where I have learnt some wonderful news skills but more importantly I have seen people grow their own skills and more importantly, grow in their belief in themselves which has allowed them to find a voice in this environment of sharing.


Friends have been vital in the last two years, helping us to stay afloat when we felt like sinking, understanding that life can be really difficult when you are alone, either physically, emotionally or both. Craft has often provided the ‘thread’ that has kept us together and helped us move ahead to build new and lasting friends.


One valuable lesson is the understanding of process over product. This is something that I have been promoting for many years in the schools in which I’ve worked. The process of creating is just, if not more important, than the final result. Of course, if you have spent hundreds of hours and a great deal of money on trying to knit that fabulous jumper you do want the end product to be a success, however you will have gained a great deal in the process. If you have been part of a craft group, the process of making will have helped create friendships, if you have been struggling emotionally the process may have brought you some peace and calm, if you have been cold the process may well have warmed you and  if you have been learning, the process will have brought you new skills and consolidated others.


I hope that my creative journey continues as it has started with friends old and new, with skills improved and discovered and with a way of life that values and is grateful for everyone and everything that comes through my door.


If you would like to get involved in our workshops , this is what is coming up in the next few weeks.


Saturday March 26th – Fleece by Colours – Learn this new technique, similar to Paint by Numbers but using sheep’s fleece to create realistic fur or feather. No previous felting skills or drawing skills are required as the image is already there and coloured, you just felt on top and create a beautiful 2D  lifelike bird or animal. 


Saturday 2nd April – Hand sewing – Patchwork needle case. This workshop will be fun to do, you will learn how to make a crazy patchwork needle case based on techniques which were popular in the Victorian times. Using cut out shapes of cotton fabrics which are placed together randomly and stitched using a selection of beautiful hand stitches. You will be taken through the process with step-by-step guidance, no experience necessary, all materials can be provided or you can bring your own. 


Saturday 14th April – Make a fairy. A fantastic opportunity to experience the magic of fairy making! Using a variety of materials and fabrics you will create enchanting figures straight out of myth and make believe. With guidance and expert crafting tips, let your imagination take flight to produce unique gifts for decoration to keep and to cherish.


In addition we also meet every Monday morning for ‘craft and chat’ – an opportunity to share skills and ideas and, of course , to put the world to rights!

Enjoy your crafts, 


Ali x