19 October 2016

Paula, from Londonderry in North Yorkshire,  has always loved art and craft, and over the years has attended her fair share of local workshops. However, the spaces she was crafting in were not always ideal, so  Paula decided to take matters into her own hands. By turning her own barn into a crafting space, her aim is to make crafting open to all who want to experience the creativity and companionship it can bring.

A woman sat a sewing machine.

How did you get interested in art and craft?

I started to dabble in crafting as a child. From early Blue Peter days, using old cereal boxes and washed out yoghurt tubs, I moved on to teenage dressmaking and today’s quilting and kit making. I now have a fully developed crafting obsession. I just love making things myself and the sense of achievement I get from crafting is second to none.

What inspired the idea of the community craft barn and how did you turn the idea into a reality?

Over the last couple of years I have attended craft workshops local to my home. These tend to be in village halls, which are not always conducive to relaxed crafting. I have also taught crafts at some of these village hall sessions and had to remember to take along everything I needed, packing up the car with machines, ironing boards, refreshments and extension leads! It suddenly hit me just how ideal my own house could be for a crafting venue. A seldom used barn annexe with beams and space was crying out to be crafty and shared. Persuading my husband was another matter!

After a few interesting discussions and 50 litres of paint, the barn was ready! There was a wood burning stove but it hadn’t been lit for around seven years, so my husband and son had an eventful weekend on the roof securing the flue and stopping any leaks. Now it‘s as good as new. A large set of old shelves has been painted and now sports haberdashery and yarn, and an old school cupboard has been transformed with some chalky paint to store other crafty items.

What do you hope people will gain from the craft barn?

The barn is cosy and welcoming and I would love people to come along and feel they can have a go at any of the workshops, even if they have no experience at all. Crafting should be for anyone and everyone and has many benefits. Best of all is the social aspect of meeting others with a common love of craft, helping to make those first conversations easy and natural.

Crafting is often seen as old fashioned and an activity for older people – is this is still the case?

It’s true that this type of activity was more commonplace in the past: my great gran used to make ‘clippy’ rugs using old clothes donated by neighbours. They would pop in for a cup of tea, bring old materials and take it in turns to work on the rug until it was completed. It would be great to create that kind of caring and sharing atmosphere again. I hope people think they can come along and feel welcomed and supported in their efforts, no matter what their age, experience or skills. The benefits that you gain from crafting — meeting people with a shared interest who have a willingness to help others — is something we can all learn and benefit from, regardless of our age.

Why do you think crafting fell out of fashion and what can young people gain by getting involved?

Recently younger people have become more involved in crafting as a result of social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Seeing pictures of upcycled furniture and hand crafted interiors is something they can connect with. Protecting the environment by recycling and repurposing items has become more fashionable and inspired a new generation of crafters to get involved.

Making your own items cannot be underestimated in terms of the ‘feel good’ factor.  In today’s fast, busy, disposable, electronic world, taking the time out to create something for yourself, with your own hands, is a great antidote. Crafting keeps your mind alert and in the moment — a true mindfulness activity — and at the same time you might be creating an heirloom for future generations. Why buy everything online when you can create something special yourself? So what are you waiting for? Give it a go now —  make new friends whilst hand making something unique.

Fun Crafty Fact…The third most popular “How to…” search on Google in 2014 was “How to Crochet”, beaten only by “How to Draw” (first) and “How to Kiss” (second) , although I’m not really sure if kissing could officially be considered a craft!

Paula runs Kit Bag Crafts, and will be running Christmas Craft workshops throughout November. These are Make & Take sessions and include: Advent Calendar, Tweed Robins, No Sew Wreath, Rudolph Slippers and some fireplace bunting.

If you’re interested please contact Paula on: info@kitbagcrafts.com or call Paula 07977 173329 for further details.

The benefits that you gain from crafting — meeting people with a shared interest who have a willingness to help others — is something we can all learn and benefit from, regardless of our age.