Friday, 21 December 2012

Thank you

It's not unusual at this time of year to reflect on the past year and to think about the good things that have happened, the less good and the changes and opportunities that have opened up. 2012 has been a very memorable year for me for all these reasons.
Sadly at the beginning of the year my dad died - suddenly and painlessly but as you can imagine was a dreadful shock to our family. We have been coming to terms with it, preparing ourselves for parting with our family home with happy memories by holding one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been to in the garden and realising what a supportive and kind group of people our friends and family on the Isle of Wight are.
At the end of May my contract as project manager at Knit for Peace came to an end as the funding ran out and after a few months rest and reflection,at the beginning of November I took the step of becoming formally self employed as a freelance knitting teacher, designer and doer of anything else fibre related. I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work and teach in some of the loveliest yarn shops in London, do some one to one teaching, launch my first paid for design and start working in an east London school as knitting teacher in residence to their parents group.
It's this last role that I just wanted to talk about in this post as it's the part of my working life that really draws together my enthusiasm for sharing my knitting skills and my belief that if you can bring people together through some sort of creative activity the community can benefit a number of ways.

I was asked to work with the group by a wonderful woman that I have worked with before in her role as a school governor at a school I worked with last year. She has been appointed as attendance and community liaison worker in a school where attendance and absenteeism are really problematic and the relationship between parents and the school has been very poor.

We started the knitting group about a month ago and it has grown every week. Most of the mums are originally from Bangladesh, many of whom speak very little English but are very keen to learn to knit and crochet. Everyone starts off by knitting a small piece to go towards making a group banner then we move on to something the women want to knit for themselves or their family. We have bottle covers, scarves, hats and snoods on the needles now. We were delighted to welcome a Somali lady this week who despite speaking no English and never having knitted before had mastered the knit stitch by the time she left.

While I am working with people on their knitting skills my colleague is able to engage them in conversation and start to understand what some of the issues around school attendance and the relationship with the school are in an informal and non threatening environment. Such has been the success of the group we have secured funding for me to continue working with them for the whole of next term.

And to absolutely put the icing on the cake, one of the mums who I taught to knit a couple of weeks ago reached into her bag and produced this mug and thank you cosy for me.I'm not ashamed to say that I had a tear in my eye.

Moments like this remind me that I have made the right decision to do something I really believe in. I may never make my fortune but some things are way more important than that. I have discovered that I have some absolutely wonderful friends who have supported me and put opportunities my way and I hope I have done the same for them.

I'm really looking forward to what the New Year holds. There are bound to be ups and downs but it will be exciting.

I hope everyone who reads this blog has a happy and peaceful holiday season and a lovely new year.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Introducing the Glasgow School Mitts

I am very excited and a little nervous to bring you some news today. I have just released my first pattern for sale on Ravelry. May I introduce the Glasgow School Mitts. They were inspired by my visit to the Rennie Mackintosh Church in Glasgow where I was lucky enough to attend the Glasgow School of Yarn so, as Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a member of the Glasgow School it seemed an obvious choice.

The mitts can be knitted in any fingering weight yarn. The example above are knitted in Yarn Yard Toddy in Stormy Monday. The yellow version are made from Malabrigo Sock in Ochre. One pair of mitts only takes 50g of yarn so they are a very economical way of getting the most from a 100g skein or to take advantage of thoughtful sellers who market their yarn in 50g skeins, allowing us a more affordable treat in these difficult times.

Speaking of which I am delighted and honoured to tell you that my lovely friend Rachel who I taught to knit socks five years ago has gone from strength to strength and has not only tech edited this pattern but is running a giveaway on her blog of this pattern and a skein of yarn donated by another friend whose support I can always rely on, Natalie of The Yarn Yard so please go over to Rachel's blog and leave a comment - you might just be the lucky one. For us, this giveaway is a real celebration of our friendship and how we bring our skills together.

The pattern is also available for £2.50 from my Ravelry Shop here.