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 http://brixton.makerhood.com/viv-moriarty. One of Viv’s brooches is also featured in the March 2012 issue of Mollie Makes magazine.

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Makerhood workshops at Crafty Fox Spring Market

Join in the fun and learn a few skills at the Makerhood drop-in workshops at the Crafty Fox Spring Market! The workshops are organised by Makerhood volunteer crafters and are completely free.

Saturday 24 March, 12.30-3pm, Dogstar Brixton, 2nd floor – free.

Knitting and crochet, with Viv and Shona

Drop by to learn a few basics, ask tricky questions about that technique you’ve been trying to learn, or bring your own project along for the afternoon. All levels welcome, from complete beginners to experienced practitioners.

Making flower essences, with Andry and Sorell

Flower essences are a great way to  use plants to make  safe remedies for helping you through life’s challenges and changes. You will learn how flower essences are made, and see how formulae are created. For a small donation (to cover cost of materials) you can get your own personalised flower essence formula made up for you on the day.

Drawing games for adults, with Kristina

Kristina will take you through simple yet powerful game techniques that help free up creativity and remind us what it’s like to play with each other. Join this workshop to relax and enjoy yourself – the results can be both delightful and eye opening.

Crafty Social

If you fancy doing a bit of craft and have a project on the go just bring it along and join in the fun. Everyone (and any craft) warmly welcome!

Photos above are from Flickr commons, by sparklerawkThai Jasmine and rosswebsdale.

Meet the makers: Lucy Moseley

Designer-maker Lucy Moseley of Moseley’s Giftware suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine, but loves creating jewellery, cards and knitting when she has the energy!

1. Would you mind telling us about your disability?
I was studying philosophy at Cambridge University three and a half years ago when I contracted chronic fatigue syndrome. I had to drop out for a while, but I went back and pushed myself to finish the course and graduate. Since then I’ve been trying to come to terms with the condition.

2. How has your crafting helped you?
I can’t go to work, as I would end up falling over! But I had always been interested in photography, so I started making cards from photos I had taken. Then I started making cushions, as I’ve always collected fabrics, which I buy from antique and vintage stores from all over the country. I’d also been making jewellery for six years, so I thought I’d try to sell some of it. Again, I buy gemstones on my travels, such as when I went to visit my sister in Australia on her gap year.

3. Does this talent come from your family or have you taught yourself?
My mum used to do pottery and painting, and my aunt is a designer-maker. And I went to a half-hour session on making jewellery. But most of it is self-taught. I had this idea that I wanted to make tea cosies that looked like bobble hats, though I couldn’t knit. So I taught myself!

4. Tell us the story behind one of your products.
Lavender bags are one of my latest products on Makerhood. When I was little, I used to make lavender bags for my family at Christmas, with their names embroidered on them. They always seemed to make people very happy, so I made some for my Makerhood stall. I use vintage fabric and lace and fill them with lavender from the same bush at my family’s home in Dorset that I used when I was younger. People seem to like picking them up and smelling the lavender. The first comment I had was “I want one – to smell instead of the smelly people on the bus!”

5. You’ve lived in Brixton for a year – how does it inspire your work?
I love the diversity and multicultural-ness of Brixton, and I miss the sirens when I go away! But the inspiration for my work comes more from inside me and from nature – so I enjoy walking round the parks like Brockwell, Dulwich and Peckham Rye.

6. And what appeals to you about Makerhood?
I love the fact that we as sellers can connect with our buyers. I really enjoyed meeting a lady who bought one of my hand-knitted tea cosies! It is wonderful to be able to showcase your talent in the local area, too, and you get to meet other people who craft and make things.

7. Finally, what’s your top tip for a bit of “hidden Brixton”?
Try Barnado’s charity shop for bargains. I’ve picked up some pretty dresses, including a ballgown, as well as knitting needles, kids’ craft packs and ink cartridges for 99p!

Lucy starts a jewellery course at Holts Academy today – we wish her luck!

You can buy Lucy’s lavender bags, Christmas cards, tea cosies, jewellery and scented candles at http://brixton.makerhood.com/moseleys-giftware.

New makers

A big welcome to some of the new makers who have set up stalls on Makerhood in the past couple of weeks.

Claire Mant creates Mantisglass: unique, handcrafted, kilnformed glassware with bold, distinctive designs that create a focal point for your home.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/mantisglass

Youngfox, the menswear label from DK Darlington, offers an eclectic mix of formal style and street fashion, making this label the right choice for men who are looking for a blend of smart and casual.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/youngfox

Aiste’s Art sells paintings, cards, bags with hand drawn graphics on them and felt scarves and accessories.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/aistes-art

Alice of Alice Maplesden Ceramics makes pots, mainly pots with creatures on “doing stuff”, like this monster drinking tea!
http://brixton.makerhood.com/alice-maplesden-ceramics

Carrycouture designs and hand crafts a range of luxury knitted accessories, including handbags, hats, scarves, gloves and cushion covers, usually in organic cotton, wool or mohair.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/carrycouture

Knitting with SWCraftClub

On Sunday afternoon, before all of the craziness erupted in London, we took part in SWCraftClub’s pop up craft event at the Landor pub in Clapham. It’s difficult to picture a more contrasting scene to the madness that came later that evening. Around eight groups of crafty folks got together in a pub garden to help people make badges, jewellery, mood boards and upcycle their wardrobe. Makerhood’s contribution was a knitting and crochet drop-in workshop. We had two experts, Viv and Shona, on hand to get beginners started and to teach new techniques to those who were more advanced. And they did a brilliant job! Over the afternoon they taught crocheting to complete beginners, polished up rusty knitting skills and handled every request for advice that skilled knitters and crocheters threw at them.

We’d prepared a wide range of materials for people to use, including wool of course, but also recycled T-shirts, plastic bags, string and ribbon. These supplies were topped up by Hobbycraft who sponsored the event. Thanks Hobbycraft!

One of the nicest things about knitting is that it’s a slow, monotonous craft. This was also something that concerned us before the event; would people be prepared to commit their time or would they simply pass us by on their way to more immediate rewards? Well, the answer is that they were prepared to commit the time – at some points we had so many knitters that we ran out of seats and our experts had to stand. And the best thing was that the slow pace meant that we got to have proper chats with people, we learnt who taught them to knit, the others crafts they enjoy, about their children and homes, what they like and don’t like about the place they live. Chat and knitting. For me, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon. Thanks to all the people who joined us and knitted and crocheted with us.

Special thanks to Zoe from SWCraftClub for inviting us to be part of this event. Follow @SWCraftClub on Twitter and SWCraftClub on Facebook or check out http://swcraftclublondon.blogspot.com for more crafty events in South West London.

And also to our experts, Viv and Shona. Viv is as talented at sewing as she is at knitting – check out her stall on Makerhood.  Shona is planning some workshops to teach beginner’s knitting in the autumn. If you’re interested in taking part contact us on hello@makerhood.com and we’ll pass on your details.

SW Craft Club knitting and crochet workshop

Makerhood is holding a drop-in knitting and crochet workshop at the Summer Pop Up event this weekend organised by the SW Craft Club in Clapham. All ages and abilities welcome – and it’s free!

We’re going to have a range of materials available for you to try out – wool, of course, but also paper and string and plastic bags and raffia etc – and we’ll be able to show you a wide range of techniques such as colour work, cable, ruffles and so on.

If you’ve been dying to learn how to knit or crochet, or if you’re an expert who wants to try something experimental, come and join us. We’ll be in the garden if the weather is good (and inside if it’s not!).

The Makerhood workshop is one of many at the event, so as well as knitting you’ll be able to try your crafty hands at a whole range of other activities, from making mosaics to decorating cupcakes.

Location : Landor Pub, 70 Landor Street, Clapham

Date & time : 7 August 2011, 12 – 5pm

What to bring : Just yourself. We will have everything you need but feel free to bring alternative knitting materials to challenge us with if you like!

Contact details : karen@makerhood.com