Meet the makers: Viv Moriarty

Knitter, crocheter and embroiderer Viv Moriarty is fascinated by the link between thinking and doing – something that she puts to good use when teaching

1. How long have you been knitting and crocheting?
All the women in my family – my aunts, granny and mum – knitted and crocheted, so I’ve done it as long as I can remember. I was knitting even when it wasn’t trendy: I used to knit things for friends at school – remember those 1970s Patricia Roberts’ sweaters? My mum is 86 and still can’t sit in front of the telly without crocheting. We were great believers in the devil finding work for idle hands to do!

2. What about embroidery?
I made some dining chair covers in Florentine tapestry – it took me years. And then I found that they wear out in certain areas where people sit! I also did a Certificate of Technical Embroidery at the Royal College of Needlework – I’m currently working on the Diploma.

3. And now you teach textiles as well as teaching in your day job?
I did a PGCE after university and taught in a primary school for a while. I used to do felting with the children – it fulfils the science curriculum about changing materials! Now I teach practising teachers who are studying for MAs and PhDs – but I also teach knitting and crochet to residents of a residents’ association in Notting Hill.

4. The two types of teaching sound quite different!
Yes! There’s a lot of “brain work” with the MA and PhD students, and it’s very much about individual endeavour, working on a one-to-one basis. With the residents’ association, although they have their own knitting, crochet or embroidery, we are making squares for a blanket, so there is a collective outcome. I also have to be quite adaptable – for example, some people can’t hold a crochet hook because they’ve had a stroke or have Parkinson’s disease. But I really enjoy working with them – they are of the generation who appreciate how much time goes into making something by hand.

5. And you’ve run several workshops for Makerhood as well.
Doing workshops for Makerhood really helped develop my confidence. And talking to other makers has opened my mind to other techniques and possibilities, as well as widening my social skills. My day job doesn’t  involve talking to people about creative things like this!

6. What about selling your items at markets?
I started selling through Makerhood because I didn’t know what to do with all the stuff I make. I wasn’t quite sure they were good enough, but one of my friends was really encouraging and gave me confidence. So I do have a stall and I’d like to sell more – but I think I’m better at teaching!

7. And finally – would you like to share some Stockwell secrets with us?
There’s the house where Van Gogh used to live at 87 Hackford Road [currently up for auction on 27 March with a guide price of £475,000]. Di Lieto Bakery on South Island Place sells fantastic croissants. And Tony’s Greengrocers on Brixton Road is a great family business that sells very reasonably priced fruit and veg.

You can see Viv’s cute knitted toys, crocheted booties and elegant embroidered brooches at One of Viv’s brooches is also featured in the March 2012 issue of Mollie Makes magazine.


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