Monday, 15 December 2014

Preparations for a Celebratory Event

After a busy and sucessful open studio, we are now busily preparing for the celebratory event for the end of our 'Knitting Communities Together' project. This project involved us teaching staff, who support adults with learning disabilities, how to knit, crochet and weave.

These new skills were then used to enhance the workplace environment and to create sensory experiences, including a 10 foot long sensory wall/blanket.

Another part of this project looked at the benefits of interacting with the local community. A number of items such as a bunting and blankets have been made and will be distributed to local community groups.

Our thanks go out to our Knit2gether Birstall/Belgrave group and the Knitting Guerillas of Blighty who helped us make the sensory wall/blanket, Leanne Robinson, Service Development Coordinator, staff and service users who benefited from participation and the Leicester City Council Charnwood Community ward who funded this project.

Photography (c) Jacqui Booth

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Wellmaking Craftivist Garden

We have just taken part in this collaborative project with Community Arts Officer, Jemma Bagley, and Sarah Green aka Super Crochet Girl from Charnwood Arts.  The project has been created by  Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist CollectiveThe #wellMAKING Craftivist Garden project is being run in partnership with Falmouth University, Voluntary Arts and Arts for Health Cornwall & Isles of Scilly supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project aims to go beyond seeing craft as a relaxing tool but seeing as a way to also help us connect and challenge and help us grow and flourish in our lives in different ways.  Groups and organisations across the UK have been invited to knit, crochet or hand embroider a flower for the Wellmaking Craftivist Garden whilst, at the same time, reflecting on the importance of wellbeing.

Reflections of the importance of wellbeing are captured in a questionnaire or via the #craftivist app and the results will be presented to the All Parliamentary Group on Arts and Health in January 2015 which will provide evidence of the power that craft has to improve our wellbeing and society as a whole.

Our Crafting for Health and Wellbeing Group participated in this project, last week, creating some really cute flowers for the craftivist garden.  The patterns, provided, were very easy to follow and we had a few people new to crochet, create a flower in no time at all...

Flowers made for this project will go into to display in London and participants will have the opportunity to join in the Garden  Party in January when it is confirmed.

Contributions from our Crafting for Health and Wellbeing Groups
There is more information on the Craftivist Collective website. If you would like to have a go at making your own flower for the Craftivist Garden, including information on how you can facilitate your own group session go to the Craftitivist Collective website.  All flowers need to be submitted to the collective by mid Dec 2014.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Poppies for Remembrance

Since the beginning of September, the Crafting for Health and Wellbeing group have been making poppies to raise funds for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.  A fundraising manager, from the Royal British Legion, came to visit us and told us all about how the funds raised would be spent and left us a collection tin.
We made our poppies in three different ways - from newspaper...

 From fabric...

 And a few were knitted and crocheted...

We left our poppies with the staff, who kindly offered to help with our fundraising, at Belgrave Hall, around the corner from our studio, when they were open for the 'Heritage Open weekend'.  We invited visitors to take a poppy in return for a donation to the appeal.  We also left them out in reception at Cross Corners Community Arts Centre where our group is based.  

The poppy making effect rippled out beyond our group with participants and volunteers taking our templates to other groups they support, inspiring more poppy making and fundraising.  The donation tin feels rather heavy.  I estimate that we have, at least, £50, if not more, towards the Poppy Appeal. 

It's really good for the wellbeing of all of us to be creative, connect with others, and give to others, which all contributes to the 'Five Ways to Wellbeing'.  


Friday, 31 October 2014

Last term in the studio

The past term has whizzed by and lots of things have been happening in the studio.
We started our new project Knitting Communities Together and it is going really well and reaching our expectations and more.  Also, our Crafting for Health and Wellbeing project has welcomed two visiting artists which have given participants new ideas resulting in some fantastically creative work.

Lindsey Warnes Carroll and myself repeated a session we delivered for Wellbeing Hi-5 exploring poetry and using this as a spark to create wallhangings.  We talked about our memories of holidays and each of us were encouraged to create our own poems based on our holiday memories.  The session was very thought provoking.

Following this session we had a go at some monoprinting in preparation for a visit from artist Jemma Rix.  Monoprinting can be a bit unnerving for some as you have little control over what the end result will look like.  Additionally, being faced with a blank sheet of paper can be daunting at times.  Luckily we have lots of inspiration around us at Cross Corners, a beautiful garden and a book shelf with lots of lovely images to choose from as well as a wealth of textiles, and other bits of treasure, to work with.  The group soon warmed up and lots of great prints were produced.

For the session with Jemma, we had a go at making cyanotypes.  This involves transfering a relief image to a surface prepared with a photo sensitive solution.  We mainly used paper and fabric.
Here you see a fabric piece with an arrangement of acetates with printed images and lace ready for transfer to the UV lamp for developing...

A cyanotype being developed under the lamp.

A cyanotype being fixed in water.

More examples of cyanotypes developed onto paper and other pieces for collage making.

Jemma also demonstrated a form of monoprinting using tissue paper which can be glued and layered over collaged work.  This results in the image becoming transparent...

Here you can see a mixture of painting, monoprints and cyanotypes with a final layer of monoprinted tissue paper which has been glued over the entire collage.  The glue makes it transparent so all the layers can be seen.  The lady who made this piece of work described the process as 'liberating'...

Work in progress.  The studio has been a beautiful creative mess with lots of material gathered from a variety of sources such as tissue paper from shoe boxes and salvaged sweet paper and discarded clippings from the garden.

This lady was only able to use one hand at this session but was still able to make her mark.

Finished collage pieces.

The piece of work, below, was inspired by the poetry session.  The lady who made this told us about her mum who used to tell her that 'if there is and obstacle in your path, there's always a way around'.  She wanted to create something from these words and, over a period of about 3-4 weeks, made this wall hanging from a mixture of textiles and leaves and twigs.  The twigs, towards the bottom of the picture, under the words, are from an oak tree planted by her mum...

I love running these sessions hearing the wonderful remarks that people make about their time in sessions.  I encourage them to write down what they have achieved and how it made them feel and hang them on our 'feedback tree' (see centre of picture below).

Here are some of the comments made last term.

This one is so lovely.  And this is why we do what we do.

This term, in the run up to christmas, we shall be sharing some of our own craft and participating in a project by Falmouth University called The Wellmaking Craftivist Garden.  We'll also be indulging in a spot of pottery with Bridget McVey who will show us how to make christmas tree ornaments.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Knit2gether :: Positive Futures and Foodbanks: Oct 22nd 2014

At the end of last September, the Knit2gether group got together with Eliza Chanin, Chairperson from Positive Futures, a charity supporting young care leavers to get into training, education and meaningful employment.

She'd got wind that we might just be able to help decorate a few shopping trolleys with some knitted food, as the Knit2gether group know where the KGB kept their stash of items from yarnstorms gone by, such as the fish'n'chip yarnstorm and the items we prepared for a foodbank yarnstorm at the end of 2013, which was eventually given sanctuary at Bitstall Methodish Church.

The plan was to decorate a pull along shopping trolley.  In the end I think we prepared enough to cover four trolleys.  These will be pulled, dragged and if necessary kicked all the way from Loughborough to Leicester on the 22nd October 2014.  Positive Futures are hoping that the public will donate food along the way, so they can deliver it to the food bank at the end of their journey.

You can follow the progress of Postive Futures and their woolly trolleys on Twitter.  They hope to be in the Birstall area at around 2pm.

 Jacqui Booth & the Knit2gether Group, Birstall/Belgrave

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cheap Thrills :: Zero Budget Film Festival Winners!

Over the summer holidays, we had the opportunity to make a film, at the workshop, for a community event known as the Cheap Thrills, Zero Budget Film Festival.  I went along with my children because they wanted to make films.  I didn't really have the chance to plan anything, as we had just returned from our holidays, but as I was going to be there all day so I slung a few balls of wool in my bag as I had the vague idea of doing a finger knitting film. I have always wanted to do this but never seemed to find the time or confidence to do it.

It was a really lovely relaxed workshop run by Martin Currie hosted in Janet Currie's (Martin's sister) home.

We were encouraged to help each other in our film making endcvours and were inspired by the lovely surroundings of their garden:
Helping Martin with the filming
Hooty Mcknowsit

When everyone had finished making their films, Martin asked me if I wanted to make a film.  I told him that I had a bit of wool in my bag and thought about making a film about finger knitting but wasn't sure how to present it.  He asked me to show him how it is done and filmed me doing it.  I made a bit of a mistake but thought it could be easily edited out.  Anyway the film was made in one take and here it is - 'Finger Knitting - The Movie':

There were over 40 films shown, each no longer than 8 minutes, at the festival, that took place in both Sheffield and Leicester.  The great thing about this festival is that it is free to take part in the film making, free to enter a film and free to go to the festival itself.  I love this. The icing on the cake was that we won an award, a Peggie,  for 'The Film Most Likely To Go Viral And Make Us All Famous!
My son also won an award ' Best Young Performer'  for his film 'Gaming is Good for you'

I am really hooked on film making.  The experience of making a film is not quite as daunting as I always thought it was.  Martin was very laid back making us all feel relaxed and this helped us to be creative.  I realise also that the film does not have to be perfect, as you will have seen from mine, the mistakes can be happy mistakes providing comedy moments.  I would highly recommend that, if you have a burning desire to make a film, that you go for it and submit it to this brilliant film festival in 2015.  Who know's, you could be the winner of a Peggie next year!


PS: There are also picture instructions here - Finger Knitting Instructions

Friday, 17 October 2014

Name Change :: Meet the Directors

The eagle eyed readers of our blog will have noticed a name change.  But for those of you who haven't, we have officially changed our name from Little Bird School of Stitchcraft to Little Bird SOS.  The reason for this was that we felt that we were doing more than offering just stitched based activities, we were moving more toward delivering a variety of arts and crafts related workshops in other disciplines such as printmaking, pottery, papercrafts etc.  We did contemplate a totally different name but felt that we didn't want to loose the Little Bird bit as we had worked really hard in gaining a reputation locally and didn't want to have to start all over.  The SOS bit, is a nod to the former 'School of Stitchcraft' but we felt it also reflects the idea of us supporting people in times of urgent need.  As you know we support health and wellbeing and are particularly interested in targeting people experiencing mental health difficulties.  SOS seemed to fit really well. 

Along with our new name, we also have a new image.  We are lucky to have the support of artist Dave Pidgeon who made an awesome logo and banner for our website:

You many have noticed that I use the term 'we'.  Well I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce two important people, who have made us a 'we' and who've been very supportive in helping Little Bird SOS get to where it is today.  Last year, when we registered as a Social Enterprise/Non-Profit Organisation, both Jacqui Booth and Lindsey Warnes Carroll became non-executive directors .  This was a sensible move for me as they'd both been advising and supporting Little Bird SOS.  I felt that the time was right to make their roles official  - things were positively progressing and I felt that I couldn't move forward alone.
You can find out more about us all on the website here.
In the meantime check out more about our projects, past and present here.