Feeling stressed? Make life nicer by getting crafty

Marlene Southwell, 55, of Conisbrough, takes advice from sewing tutor Lucy Hall, of Bessacarr. Picture: Liz Mockler Donc-KnitStitchD7892LM

Marlene Southwell, 55, of Conisbrough, takes advice from sewing tutor Lucy Hall, of Bessacarr. Picture: Liz Mockler Donc-KnitStitchD7892LM

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LAURA Ashley, Cath Kidston, Cabbages and Roses. What do all these companies have in common?

They are all buzz words for the very latest and most desired styles in interior design, writes Patsy Johnson.

Barbara Turner, 60, of Stainforth, works on the sewing machine during a class at Knit and Stitch, Maltby. Picture: Liz Mockler DONC-KnitStitchD7893LM

Barbara Turner, 60, of Stainforth, works on the sewing machine during a class at Knit and Stitch, Maltby. Picture: Liz Mockler DONC-KnitStitchD7893LM

Out goes the black, chrome and stainless steel and in comes vintage shabby chic, which is great news for these cash-strapped days.

If you look across the pond some Americans are taking home-making to their hearts and watching re-runs of The Waltons and The Simpsons. Let’s take a look at The Waltons.

They had serious money issues as well as being over-run by chickens, dungarees, children and old ‘uns, but have you seen the quilts on their beds?

On the high street that home-made, hand-stitched bed linen would cost you a small fortune. So why not take a leaf out of Mary Ellen’s book and get stitching yourself?

Working on their advent calendars atthe Knit and Stitch sewing class are L-R Jayne Biggins, 55, of Letwell, and Katie Hamilton, 14, of Bawtry. Picture: Liz Mockler DONC-KnitStitchD7894LM

Working on their advent calendars atthe Knit and Stitch sewing class are L-R Jayne Biggins, 55, of Letwell, and Katie Hamilton, 14, of Bawtry. Picture: Liz Mockler DONC-KnitStitchD7894LM

Quilting, knitting, embroidery and crochet couldn’t be more “in” if they tried and, ever one to embrace a new trend, I decided to purchase a sewing machine.

Yes you can buy quilts, yes you can buy hand knits, but your own, unique creation is just that, yours, not for sale - unless you have time for a cottage industry - and not to be seen in anyone else’s home.

I’m not saying it’s the easiest thing in the world to thread up a machine, but you can start off with something easy, say some beautiful crisp, white damask table napkins with your family’s initials in a corner.

You could even make them into presents at half the cost it would be to buy them.

The whole point is to make something that pleases you, looks good and gives you the warm satisfied feeling of creating beautiful pieces for your home.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of sewing the world is, as they say, your pin cushion.

The next stage has to be quilting. One of the many joys of this craft is seeking the inspiration to put colours together and you can seek out your muse anywhere.

Another joy is that you don’t have to spend lots of money on fabrics to make a quilt. Traditionally they were made of left-over scraps of material or old clothes.

It’s a great way to use up a summer dress or a favourite outfit your child has grown out of. It’s the best way I can think of to pass on your love and creativity through the years.

The Knit and Stitch shop in Maltby is an Aladdin’s cave for the skilled needleworker or complete novice.

The shops - there is a sister shop in Doncaster’s Corn Exchange in the Market Place - are stuffed full of fabrics, wools, haberdashery supplies and equipment, writes Ruth Offord.

Owner Kath Knight and her daughter Liz are also keeping traditional skills alive by running classes.

The creative home sewing class is the perfect starting place for the beginner with tuition in applique, embroidery and general sewing.

A visit to the Maltby store certainly gave me the bug and I’ve since sewed patchwork cushions and bags.

Liz said: “I think crafts have generated quite a following.

“Due to the recession people are staying in but they want something to do so they’re getting into knitting or sewing.”

Lucy Hall, who was tutoring the creative home sewing class, said: “I just find ideas here and there. Most of the items I see in magazines for huge price trags I think ‘I could make that’.

“I also ask what they would like to do and I always try to find things that will be useful when they’ve finished too.”

Knit and Stitch is located at 92 High Street, Maltby, and Units 3/4The Corn Exchange, market Place, Doncaster, telephone 01709 817944, info@knitandstitchonline.com or visit www.knitandstitchonline.com