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Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

14th October 2013

It could be argued that some of the skills that are most vital to our children are not how to do quadratic equations or conjugate a verb, but how to live sustainably and self-sufficiently. Being able to make our own clothes falls into this category; how empowering is it for a child to design and make their very own customised garment? This kind of empowerment also in turn lessens the stranglehold of the big clothing multinationals. The more people are able to make and mend their own clothes, the less dependant they are on cheap, sweat-shop made items.

Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

14th October 2013

Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

14th October 2013

That’s why it’s so refreshing to read about a project like Craft Club, a collaboration between the UK Hand Knitting Association, the Crafts Council and the WI. The aim is to get children learning new crafts, in schools, galleries, community centres and museums. With the help of volunteers across the UK, children get to learn vital skills to pass on. Volunteers can come from any walk of life; all you need to possess is a keenness to share your passion.

Craft Club was launched in 2009 with the Recycled Rainforest Project at Lindens Primary School in Sutton Coldfield. The children created a 3D rainforest knitted from recycled materials – plastic bags, fabric strips, old tights, ribbon, packaging and wire were a few of the yarns they experimented with to create different patterns and textures. The rainforest was showcased at the Design and Technology Show at the NEC in November 2009. Chris Kingdom, of the UK Handknitting Association, commented; “We were able to demonstrate how easily and quickly the skills could be learnt across all ability levels, including those with learning difficulties, and, along with the newly acquired skills, the numerous benefits including improved self esteem and confidence that resulted.”

On the Craft Club website, they had this to say about the vital skills crafting has to teach kids: “Students get hands-on tuition with volunteers and learn useful life-skills. As well as being able to sew on a button, craft teaches patience, perseverance, concentration – good all-round skills. Knitting provides a sense of achievement, boosting self confidence and improving dexterity, maths and handwriting. Intelligent making and craft activity are inclusive and democratic supporting first-hand engagement and haptic knowledge at all levels of ability.” Alongside all these benefits, those participating in craft activities enjoy being part of a circle of crafty socialising. You can find out more about becoming a Craft Club volunteer here.

Craft Club also launched their Knit 1 Pass It On initiative through which anyone who has a craft skill to share aims to teach it to another person. This can be on a large scale, in a school or youth group setting, or even on a one-to-one basis. I recently spent a lovely evening with a friend who is a master crafts-person – she even spins her own yarn – and she helped clear up some of the tricky bits of a knitting pattern I’d been struggling with. Inadvertently she was part of the Knit 1 Pass It On campaign!

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