Needlecraft is in the news

Now I know I have blogged before about quilting in the news (click here to see that post) , and in that case it was a local newspaper. There was, however, a longish article in the national newspaper The Observer dated 30 April, entitled ‘A stitch in time saves stress down the line: needlecraft is the cool new way to unwind’ which is remarkable enough in itself, but in addition, it was in the NEWS section, please note.

Observer article 30.4.17 (3).JPG

I was asked recently how I learnt to sew and I guess it would be true to say ‘at my mother’s knee’, since my mother was a keen (and expert) dressmaker. She kept all the left-over materials in what she called her ‘piece drawer’ (in fact it was several drawers) and as a child I was allowed to make things from this scrap fabric. She had a lovely gold-decorated, black Singer sewing machine set into a work-table and I can never remember not being able to use a sewing machine, so that must be thanks to her. As I teenager, I can recall devising and making a drawstring bag in pale blue chambray with white cord – and I’m still doing that kind of thing…

photo OF cover of quilter's bag pattern (reduced).jpg

Unfortunately, I was very put off ‘needlework’ at school: all that un-picking!  How strange that I later spent a good few years of my working life as a teacher passing on Textiles skills to the next generation. And I’m still teaching now as part of my Amanda Jane Textiles business.

So I’m delighted to read that needlecrafts of all kinds are booming. The Observer article by Karen Kay says that market research firm Mintel ‘reports a 12% rise in women doing some sort of needlecraft as a hobby in the last two years’.  The piece also reports ‘a fifth of women under 45 are interested in taking up knitting and sewing, while 17% of men aged 16 to 24 are keen to try one of these pastimes’.

Much is made in the Observer article of the way in which crafts of all kinds are appearing on the internet, for example on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. I certainly enjoy using all of those and I post to them, too. (You should be able to find me there as Amanda Jane Textiles.)

I wrote not long ago about taking up knitting again (click here to see the post) and I need to report that I got completely gripped by making little hats for the Age UK charity scheme and ended up with a small hat shop, which will be posted off tomorrow, well ahead of the 31 July 2017 deadline. They were so delightfully quick to finish and so more-ish, I found them really relaxing to make.


It is this quality of inducing relaxation which is appealing to the tech-savvy younger generation, apparently, and no less an authority than Polly Leonard, founder of Selvedge magazine is quoted in the Observer article, saying ‘The therapeutic rhythm of knitting, sewing or crocheting is proven to improve emotional wellbeing’. I couldn’t agree more. It is one of the reasons that I so enjoy hand-quilting and hand embroidery, though I enjoy the sewing machine versions of both those activities, too. In this context, I would like to share with you pictures of a most beautiful embroidered sewing-machine cover made by a fellow-member of my quilt group Lynn Gibson. It was made over a period of two years and is an absolute delight:



… and I’m taking up knitting again

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about needing a new hobby, since my hobby (patchwork and quilting) became my job. I also showed off a recently crocheted hat (click here if you missed it).

I also showed a picture of a beautifully knitted Swiss hat, created – in conjunction with the Innocent drink company – to raise funds for the elderly in that country.

I was intrigued and have since found out more. In the UK and Ireland last year the scheme (known here as the Big Knit) raised £200,000. With every smoothie bottle with a little hat, sold by Innocent, the company gives 25p to Age UK (or 30c to Age Action in Ireland). That means a LOT of little hats were made.

I found this quite irresistible, so of course I have made a little hat of my own and rather enjoyed picking up my knitting needles again.

Small hat for The Big Knit.JPG

You could make one too. There’s a website: which includes a gallery of quite dazzling hats and a good number of patterns. They all have to be completed by 31 July 2017 and sent to The Big Knit, Age UK, Fruit Towers, Canal Building, 342 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5BU.

I followed the pattern in the ‘Knitter Knatter’ booklet published to support The Big Knit, which made the genius suggestion of making a tiny pom-pom by winding wool round a fork – great idea.

Knitter Knatter magazine.JPG

Now, as it happens, I have a sock person with a head (if one can call it that!) just the right size for the small hat.

Sock person in small hat.JPG

The sock person itself was a gift at Christmas a few years ago when we had a £5 present challenge within the immediate family. I can recommend this: it was a very inventive year! Two small sock people came into the house at the time; the other one is wearing the Swiss hat mentioned in my previous post:

Sock person in small hat (2).JPG

The duo looks quite fetching in their hats.

sock people in hats.JPG

This week, in a completely different context I read about the Innocent drinks company’s charitable activities and about how they committed from the very beginning of the company to giving at least 10% of their profits to charity. I found that impressive. You can read more about that here. It’s a good model and one I am interested in following with Amanda Jane Textiles. Right now,  I clearly need to send off a knitted hat to the UK charity, so I’m getting on with knitting the next one…