workshops

The Power of Knitting

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A few weeks back I was approached by a rather large international computer company asking if The Chunky Needle might run some in-house workshops for their corporate mental health initiatives. I said, “absolutely!” Then last week a music streaming company contacted me asking if I might be free to attend their retreat in Portugal in May, again, offering a mindful workshop for their employees. This all got me to thinking, “hmmm… there might be something to this.”

There is no doubt about the mental benefits that come from tasks such as knitting and crafting. Last May, The Indpendent delved deeper into the benefits by writing, “Knitting can reduce anxiety, depression, chronic pain and slow dementia.” Furthermore they found that knitting “can ultimately save the NHS millions of pounds” by promoting mental and physical well being.

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Whenever I run an arm knit workshop there comes a point in the two hour session where all goes quiet. Deep mindfulness takes over as each person, for a brief time, are at one with the task in front of them. Vanished are the mobile phones, social media, news distractions and even conversation. The quiet peace of knitting takes over where for a few brief moments all goes silent. The quiet can be quite disarming as we are uncomfortable sitting without the chatter of noise clammering within and around us. The silence inevitably breaks with someone acknowledging how wonderful knitting is for mindfulness and mental peace.

Mental Health America did research into the power of knitting and published in January:

The benefits include:

  • Lowered blood pressure

  • Reduced depression and anxiety

  • Slowed onset of dementia

  • Distraction from chronic pain

  • Increased sense of wellbeing

  • Reduced loneliness and isolation

The last listed benefit, reduction of isolation and loneliness is so vitally accurate. I’m always amazed by the initiative made by solo people to book onto one of my chunky knitting workshops. So often many arrive alone, unsure of what to expect and a little apprehensive of sitting among others that may know one another. I’m always quick to take note of who these individuals are, so that I may make greater effort at getting to know them, chat to them and make them feel at ease. I’m naturally a shy person and would be hesitant to try new things on my own, so the people that come out to these workshops always seem so brave to me. The power of sitting among other like minded people, whether you know them or not, is astounding. For two hours strangers sit amongst one another carrying out a very independent activity, yet the power of just sitting with other people is palpable and makes you feel like you’ve accomplished much more than knitting a blanket by the end of the workshop.

Knitting for the novice, particular arm knitting, becomes an exercise of concentration and focus. Learning the new tasks of moving stitches and loops from one arm to the next encourages our brain to work in ways unfamiliar to it. So often the dominant arm picks up the momentum so much more readily than the weaker. The mental awareness tasked upon the brain to spring into action as it is challenged to undergo activities not usually asked, makes for a fully mindful opportunity. For a brief time the mind and body are working in complete unison without the distraction of our demanding lives that today require constant mulit-tasking and are incumbent upon sensory overload and hyper stimulation. It’s easy to see the multiple benefits that activities such as arm knitting can bring to the workplace and demanding environments we live in today.

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Furthermore, I love the inclusiveness of workshops such as arm knitting. It simply is a task that EVERYONE can do. Young, old, people with disabilities, men, women, children everyone, can participate. It’s a mental and physical activity that doesn’t require the toughest of bods or years of skill acquisition. Anyone can simply roll up to a class and participate successfully. What’s not to love about that?

So The Chunky Needle is very proud to encourage and engage in the powers of knitting on both our mental and physical health. I look forward to working with other corporate organisations as I bring the beautiful peace and quiet that come along with knitting into the workplace. For more information on how The Chunky Needle can be included in your work place mental health schemes, drop me an email at info@thechunkyneedle.com

Until next time, stay healthy and enjoy the quiet.

Cx

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Chunky ARM-ageddon

Wake me never.

Wake me never.

Well I’m not one for conventional marathons that’s for sure. The training. Time time commitment. The physical, excruciating pain of it, not to mention the chaffing. Yikes. No, instead I run (get it?) knitting marathons - five workshops, three counties, 160kg of wool to transport, in a period of about 56 hours. I’m a nutter. No I’m just a knit wit.

This past weekend I put onto the calendar about 2 months ago. I’m having a hard time saying ‘no’ to offers and why would I want to? The weekend of January 18th-20th became known as Chunky Arm -(get it?) Ageddon. I said ‘yes’ to everything. Yes I can order that much wool. Yes I can transport it all around the country. Yes I can on my own drag bags and bags of wool across shopping mall floors, mud soaked car parks, snowy winter escapes. I am CHUNKY hear me ROAR is my new mantra.

My first arm knit workshop saw me with a group of gorgeous Mamma’s in Blockley, just outside of Moreton-in-Marsh, GLOS. These yummy mummies are PTA Mammas and this workshop was designed to raise money for their school committee. I spent my Friday evening listening to retro 90s tunes, swathed in merino whilst the ladies knitted, knattered, drank pink prosecco and downed the yummiest canapes of foccacia and olives. How posh they run in them Cotswolds. I loved it. The snow started to gently fall over the limestone hills and those newly knit chunkies quickly turned into capes and shawls to combat the chill.

The Mummies of Blockley FOS

The Mummies of Blockley FOS

Saturday the alarm went off at a respectable 7am but let’s be honest, as a Mum of twin boys, the wake up call came much earlier. The car was loaded with 85kg of merino and acrylic. Off I go east to the counties of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. First stop, High Wycombe’s Eden Centre and the newly opened Craft Coop. A lovely haven of all things crafty. This was a bit of a challenging set up as I had booked on far too many people for the space available and I had to park (aka: UNLOAD) way toooooo far away from the shop without the immediate aid of a device on wheels. After some wrangling, a shopping trolley was sourced (Thanks Tesco. Hope you’ve found it by now.)

Craft Coop, High Wycombe, BUCKS

Craft Coop, High Wycombe, BUCKS

17 of us (18 with me) filled the back of the shop with yarn flying here, there and everywhere. Without enough table space, we had to get creative with our cast on, but we got there in the end. There were plenty of smiles and laughs and the blankets made were just fantastic. Super proud of those ladies as they got my day off to a flying start.

The ladies of Craft Coop

The ladies of Craft Coop

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After a private 1-1 with the lovely Zoe, time was inching ever closer to my next workshop in Henley-on-Thames, about a 35 minute drive in traffic on a Saturday afternoon. YIKES! It was now 13:50 and my class was at 3. I always like to arrive 30 min before, but at this Henley venue I need loads of time as I need to unload and then re-locate my car. HAHA yeah right! Find parking on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Henley close enough to get back to my workshop venue in less than 5 minutes! HA!!!! Well I had to make an emergency call to an old friend that lives locally. I hate imposing on people at the last minute, but this was a do or die scenario. I arranged for my friend to walk down to my venue, pick up my car, drive it to their house, park it, then come pick me up after the class. I mean seriously, what amazing friends right? I felt a bit like a teenager again having my Dad come pick me up from the mall.

After all the logistics were sorted I had a group of lovely ladies join me in the old Tudor, wood beamed room of what is now Zizzi restaurants hire space. It’s a charming rustic room that I do enjoy using, but will be looking for a new space for my next Henley class (long story, not going to go into it.) I had two special guests attend this arm knit class the lovely Lynne Lambourne of interior styling and design Love Nellie and her delightful bestie, women’s alternative health expert and nutritionist, Angie Best, came to check out The Chunky Needle and see what this arm knitting deal is all about. Well they came, they saw and conquered as gorgeous chunky knit blankets were made by them and all my students combined.

Lynne Lambourne and bestie Angie Best

Lynne Lambourne and bestie Angie Best

Chunky Knits in Henley

Chunky Knits in Henley

With little time to relax, it was time to call my “Dad” to come collect me as my next workshop was about to start 20 minutes away in lovely Marlow, BUCKS. 7pm start time with arrival approx 6:20. OMG thank GOD the fabulous Resolute Cafe in Higginson Park, allowed me to park right outside their restaurant. By this point hangry (no food was had yet - seriously) and knackered it was a joyous relief to park literally out the door. One of the staff members helped me unload upon his own initiative and that was such a welcomed offer. The Resolute was quiet and peaceful. The tables were set up and everything was ready to go. Best part for me was that this restaurant specializes in artisan pizzas - so of course, it was time to eat. I treated myself to a much needed glass of merlot and enjoyed The Resolute pizza entirely. Seriously, the pizza is WOW!

The Resolute Cafe, Marlow, BUCKS  The next arm knit at Resolute will be Saturday Feb 23rd 4pm. Book  HERE

The Resolute Cafe, Marlow, BUCKS

The next arm knit at Resolute will be Saturday Feb 23rd 4pm. Book HERE

Class finished bang on time at 9pm and I was back in my car ready to head back to Gloucestershire by 9:15. One hour, 45 minutes back to the countryside. I don’t know about you, but long night drives just feel like a never ending foray into a black hole. Wow. Definitely needed a services stop at Oxford!

Sunday morning arrived far too quickly but alas, the birds sang. My last Arm-ageddon workshop of the weekend. The award winning, Malt House Emporium in Tewkesbury was to be my finale. Oh and what a finale it was. Seriously I don’t even know how to describe this super warehouse of interior design genius. Two, expansive floors of vintage, craft, new makes, antique, all under one roof and styled as though you’ve entered a time machine. It’s like IKEA as the for proper grown-ups and the intellectually design savvy. No flat pack here! (Sorry IKEA, no offense meant.)

Our workshop space was suited and booted and I was so happy that I brought a few Chunky Needle blanekts and cushions with me as I couldn’t not take a couple styled photos. The inspiration was swarming. I could spend an entire day in there taking shots of my blankets against all the gorgeous furniture pieces.

Look at this place!!! The Malt House Emporium, Tewkesbury, GLOS

Look at this place!!! The Malt House Emporium, Tewkesbury, GLOS

The class was a gem. Lovely group of ladies coming together on a chilly Sunday afternoon to learn a new skill, have a laugh and make gorgeous chunky knits. What more could one want? The beautiful Ferns Tea Room kept us warm and the blankets added to the cozy ambiance. So many onlookers were amazed by what we were producing as they hadn’t seen anything like it. It really was the cherry on the Arm-aggedon cake. I look forward to my next cushion workshop at The Malt House on March 10th. Book HERE:

The Malt House Emporium, GLOUCESTERSHIRE

The Malt House Emporium, GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Workshop was over by 3:30 and that drew a line under my chunky knit marathon. What a crazy weekend. Overall I met 80 women and carried 160kgs of wool. Imagine that. 80 chunky knit blankets made. Seriously WOW!

There’s no time to rest however. I’m back at Bowden Stores in Market Harborough, Leicestershire on Wednesday night and then two new venues in Cirencester and Stroud, GLOS on Friday and Saturday this week. February starts with a bang with cushion workshops in the Forest of Dean, blanket workshops at the highly regarded Tudor Farmhouse as well as many other venues. I’m super excited and super busy lol!

Thank you to everyone that helped me make this weekend possible, and many thanks to all the venues that welcomed me through their doors. I look forward to future collaborations in the coming months.

Thanks for reading everyone and stay Chunky.

Cx

Happy Halloween!

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Okay anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a freak about Halloween. It’s a Canadian thing. In North America we pretty much prepare for October 31st 4-6 weeks in advance! After an hour or so of much needed work this morning, I shall be turning Bank House into a spooky haunted Georgian House in prep for tonight. Stay tuned to my insta stories for updates!

The days have been flying by and I often feel like I’m being tugged in a million directions. I’m busy - with EVERYTHING. It’s a good thing indeed, and the growth The Chunky Needle has experienced has been incredible. On top of knitting all those new chunky blankets and cushions for The Country Homes and Interiors show at Stonor Park on November 22, I’m taking new orders daily and am still running wonderful workshops meeting loads of new people and having so much fun.

Last week I was at two great workshops. The first at a new venue: The Bowden Stores in Market Harborough Leicestershire. It’s the furthest I’ve traveled yet for a workshop, but was so worth it as I had such a good time. I’ll be back to Bowden on Wednesday January 23rd for the much sought after Arm Knit class. Go here for more info: ARM KNIT BOWDEN

Next up was the wonderful Meggie’s in Stow-on-the-Wold. This was my third workshop at this lovely little Cotswold Lifestyle shop and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll next be at Meggies on November 17th for a Christmas wreath workshop. Click HERE.

So as the calendar flips to another month - a very VERY busy month. You shall find me knit knattering with my chunky needles, and making as many chunky blankets, cushions, scarves, ugh as possible. I love it so much, I just hope you all do too. Please come on out and see me at Stonor Park. Would love to meet you!

Have a great Halloween everyone! Stay safe.

Cx

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SEPTEMBER is here!

All going to new homes!

All going to new homes!

Woohoo!  A new season dawns - okay, not technically, but almost.  The shadows are longer and the days shorter.  Autumn is here!  The Chunky Needle has now been 'in concept' for a year.  It was last August when I saw an Australian Facebook post on chunky knitting.  Seeing as I had a knitting background, I was totally transfixed.  Fast forward 12 months, here I am feeling really excited about where The Chunky Needle is going. 

I've just had a rocking sale.  The sale I held last weekend exceeded all expectations.  6 out of 11 blankets sold and 6 cushions found their way to new homes.  As a new company with not the greatest Google presence, this was a major result for me, so a major THANK YOU goes out to those of you that shopped, but also those that popped by the website to have a gander.  It all counts.  The weekend also saw a significant result in workshop bookings.  I'm so excited by the events that I have upcoming.  7 now on the diary between now and 17th November.  I'm branching into The Forest of Dean, The Cotswolds and my old stomping grounds of Berkshire.  When I launched The Chunky Needle I never thought workshops would be on the radar, but now they seem to be what I'm most involved with, and I LOVE IT!  I launched an exciting collaboration with The Blockley Cafe in Moreton-in-Marsh which sees me hosting two workshops (Oct 10 and Nov 17) with more planned for the new year.  These dates will be different from others I run as dinner & drinks will be involved - how lovely indeed!   Thank you to all the venues that have brought me on board; I love working with you and thank you for your support.

The one thing I want to stress more than ever is that every blanket, cushion, throw, pompom etc made, has been made exclusively by me alone.  When you buy a Chunky Needle knit, you are getting my love, perfectionism & attention in each piece.  I get asked all the time "did you make that yourself?" and I laugh as of course I did!  I even had one lady this week ask if I was just the front person and was buying stock to sell from overseas.  Never, ever would I do that.  Nor would I put my name on something I didn't make myself.  I'm super proud of what I've achieved and will shout it loud and clear.

So, as the calendar moves into the last months of the year I look forward to what the coming weeks will bring.  Workshops, Christmas markets and stock building will see me through this new season.  I'm super jazzed by it all and can't wait to see what the end of 2018 brings. 

Have a great weekend y'all!

Cx

I made this! Yep, me!

I made this! Yep, me!