‘Before starting my business, I was a financial journalist, but the premature arrival of my first baby in 2010, prompted me to rethink my role as a career mum. During my maternity leave, I rediscovered my love of knitting, developed some children’s wear patterns and sourced beautiful natural fibres to create my designs. I decided to start my own business creating handcrafted baby clothes knitted from a blend of yak and bamboo yarn.
To celebrate Wool Week this October, I’m creating a knitted woollen art installation in Chichester’s Priory Park. This is a community project to raise money for the local mental health charity Coastal West Sussex MIND and so I‘m asking for knitting and pompom donations to create a beautiful and colourful display that everyone can enjoy while being reminded of the importance of the wool trade to our society and also to the importance of mindfulness. The display is called Knitting Minds and it’ll include a dramatic woollen waterfall of oversized knitted autumn leaves and sculptured knitted sheep, which I am creating from 50mm diameter knitting needles, all decorated with pompoms.
I’ve been working closely with a local school to create the display, and it’s going to be colourful and stunning. Watching a child creating something with their hands that they can touch and feel and shape is very exciting. It is a wonderful thing to see them sit together in concentration winding the wool. I have three children, six year old Teddy,
four year old Heidi and two year old, Lottie. The oldest two have been very excited about making pompoms and we have a lot hanging around the house as they finesse their skills for the project. The idea is that everyone who makes a pompom for the display will also donate £1 to MIND. The Chichester craft shop, The Eternal Maker is the drop off point for any donations as well as the school and my business.
This is the first art installation I’ve done, but I hope it will be the first of many. Knitted sculptures are texturally striking, tactile and can lend a sense of natural drama to many different landscapes. Mental health problems come in all shapes and sizes and my hope is that the giant woollen display will raise awareness while simultaneously bringing therapeutic wellbeing.’ Visit Helena’s website for more - crownsandcoronets.co.uk
HEARTS & CRAFTS
Activists changing the world one stitch at a time
CRAFTIVIST COLLECTIVE Founded by Sarah Corbett in 2009, this group was formed as a ‘more gentle, respectful and more targeted way of doing activism’. They’ve sewn provocative petition bunting at stations, created banners to address injustices, and worked with Unicef, Save the Children, the V&A and Secret Cinema. craftivist-collective.com
KNIT THE CITY Yarnbombers extraordinaire, Knit the City create squishy street art that gives soul to public spaces and changes the way people look at their world. They’ve scattered owls across Leeds, made phone box cosies in Parliament Square, and stitched sea creatures that have slithered around the Natural History Museum. knitthecity.com
CARRIE REICHARDT Carrie blurs the lines between art and activism with her striking murals, screen prints and mosaics. We’re fans of her piece commemorating suffragette Mary Bamber, now on display in the Museum of Liverpool. carriereichardt.com
FINE CELL WORK Training prisoners in England and Wales to create beautiful, high-quality needlework, this group give back self-esteem to those at a low ebb, give hope for the future, and enable those in jail to reflect and support their families. Inspiring. finecellwork.co.uk