Workshop Review

Where have the last five or six months gone? Running a small knit business like The Chunky Needle, I’m always jumping the calendar ahead, looking at the colder, darker months that inevitably will return. As the arm knitting and cushions workshops wind down over the next six weeks or so, I made a quick little video looking back at some of the recent classes held over the last couple of months.

June marks the first year anniversary of our very first workshop that was held at Meggies Lifestyle in Stow-on-the-Wold. When The Chunky Needle debuted 18 months ago, workshops were the furthest thing from my mind as I didn’t realise the opportunities that existed in the workshop scene. Man-o-man how much I didn’t know. The variety and wealth of crafting courses offered in various venues around the country has really helped revitalise struggling High Street shops by bringing in new potential clientele as well as revenue from the workshop itself. The relationship between venue and Maker is important as it allows us crafters an opportunity to showcase our work to new locales as well as possible buyers. It’s a win win for both.

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It’s so funny. The first workshop I rolled up to I brought way too much with me. It was a cushion class and since perfecting my 14” cushion, I know only 500g of wool will finish the job. I brought close to 2kg for each student! I was so afraid they’d need more than what they actually required. Needless to say, those first students got alot more for their money than just a cushion. They probably could’ve made a lap blanket, scarf, hat, etc. with all the excess wool they went home with! I travelled with my banner, ladder shelves, blankets, cushions the whole shebang! Meg must have thought me so clueless. LOL. Fact is, I WAS! I am much more streamlined now. Bring just enough, no more or less. Oh and the shelving ladder is safely stored in the garage!

I’ve certainly put more miles on my car than I ever thought I would when The Chunky Needle launched. This in itself is quite an accomplishment for me. Having moved to the UK in 2004 from Vancouver, Canada, I lived in London and didn’t drive a car for about 9 years! Naturally living in London a car is more of a hindrance than a necessity. Furthermore, you all drive on the wrong side of the road and seem to mainly drive a stick (again something I didn’t do as in Canada I drove an automatic transmission.) It wasn’t until 2014 when my husband INSISTED I get behind the wheel as we had twin boys arriving. Well long story, short; the whole experience has been eye opening. Whilst living in Maidenhead, Berkshire, my first goals were to successfully drive to the local Sainsbury’s on my own. My ultimate dream was of reaching The Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading someday. LOL when I look back now I’m amazed that I now bomb all around the country from workshop to workshop. North, South, East, West, off I go with my 4x4 jammed full of merino and acrylic wool balls off to my next venue. I must say though, if we didn’t have Google Maps I’m quite certain I’d still be walking to the grocery store.

400+ students in one year makes me gape in amazement. It’s funny though as it’s the most natural thing for me to do. As a former classroom teacher, I’ve missed being in front of students sharing knowledge with them in a funny relaxed manner. I enjoy teaching so much, so being able to run these workshops really fulfills that missing need in me.

As the season winds up I’m looking forward to some much needed rest but I’m already super excited about all the new venues that I’ll be meeting from September onward. I have a load of dates already launched but have room for more if you or someone you know thinks a Chunky Needle workshop is a perfect fit for your space. Go to www.thechunkyneedle.com/workshops/ to see what’s coming up later in the year.

The smiles and often look of disbelief on the faces of my students after they’ve completed what they considered the impossible, is addictive. The feedback has been so rewarding and encouraging. I love that everyone and every age can participate in a Chunky Needle workshop. Young and old alike can sit side by side creatively. How rare that is. As I type now, I’m gearing up for another workshop tonight in Cardiff. I love it. I’m so happy.

Stay Chunky Dolls.

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