Time Banking – How Can it Benefit You

I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned being involved with TimeBanking on previous posts. I wanted to blog specifically about it today because the people involved who give up their time freely for others deserve a mention and because I want to share about how it can help very small businesses.

Our local timebanks are run by 2 community workers from the local council – Gwyneth and Linda – Gwyneth works on the West of Southampton and Linda, the East. The idea of the scheme is to get people in communities together, helping each other. You give as much time as you are able and the hours you give are logged on a “bank account” as are the hours you take.

My main “giving” is centred around crafting and the joy of it is, that I only commit what I can manage. So I’ve recently needed to take quite a chunk of time out through illness and family pressures, but I hope to back with the group soon. I also volunteer as a textile mender at a local Repair Cafe monthly, run by Transition Southampton. This is affilitated to Time Bank so I can also claim those hours. I’ll blog at a later date about the Repair Cafe.

I have joined the Timebank both as an individual and a small business, the advantage to this is that I can choose to use my hours to either support me in my personal life – things like DIY, decorating etc or to support my business. This could be anything from a leaflet drop to business advice or designing publicity materials.

My latest exchange was to have a postcard designed that I could use for generic advertising – I was really struggling with layout and copy so an exchange was duly arranged with a gentleman who runs a local community centre. I then used his format to design the front of the postcard as we were struggling to find a decent photo of me – camera shy is probably a mild description of my efforts to avoid photography!

Here’s the finished result – would be interested to know what you think:


And if you would like to know more about Timebanking, whether in Southampton or further afield, click here and email Gwyneth and she will be happy to put you in touch with someone who can help 🙂

Handmade Monday 188 – What Happens in a Class?

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday – pop over to Handmade Harbour and treat yourself to an hour or so browising the work of some very talented crafters and artists.


I’ve realised that although I spend alot of my time teaching I rarely blog about what happens in a class! So I’m aiming to change that in the coming weeks.

Today I’ll give a brief overview of the various classes that are running and the sort of things we do

Open to All

Beginners Crochet – Starts 13.10. 14 @ Hedge End, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

wpid-20140303_195614.jpgIn beginners classes there is usually a mixture of people, from those who have never picked up a hook in their lives to those who have learned a bit off the net or who crocheted years ago but have forgotten how to get going again.

For the purposes of this post I’ll focus on the 1st week: We start by finding the best way to hold the hook and yarn for you – I start by teaching the best way, both right and left handed and then work with individuals who are struggling to find a technique that is best for them. It might be holding the hook differently or threading your hand another way with the yarn. We then move on and practice chain stitch. When everyone is confident they are able to manage that, we start on the 1st lesson proper – making a granny square. I choose the granny square because the foundation chain doesn’t need to be perfect as its hidden inside the centre and its  a popular thing to make. Once you have mastered it you can go on to create anything from handbags to cushions to blankets. To achieve this we then learn slip stitch, joining a chain to make a ring and treble crochet, plus how to put them all together to make a square. After the 1sr couple of round I introduce pattern reading, so that the group start to get a handle on the abbreviations and how crochet patterns are written. I colour code the pattern and break each round down into manageable sections. Once we’ve covered this, I tend to find that those who have some crochet knowledge can work the following round with minimal support, giving me more time to work one to one or in a smaller group with those who need a bit more help. The ladies who are working more independently are not left to struggle however as I am on hand for them too. If the lesson is going well we also look at colour changes. The group is encouraged to practice at home, either starting another square from scratch or adding more rounds to their existing square. Practice between lessons is essential. We revise the granny square in week 2 and then move on to look at a variety of ways of joining them together.  Each week you receive a comprehensive learning pack that covers everything we have learned during the lesson. This builds into a beginners / improvers manual, including exclusive patterns that you can fall back on in the future.


Knit and Learn – Tuesdays, Bitterne Park, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

wpid-20131202_135408.jpgThis is a mixed ability group of beginners, improvers and more experienced knitters. There is usually a 1 hour workshop, followed by a further hour working on individual projects with support when needed. Handouts are supplied for any new techniques and beginners have access to the the full 6 week beginners manual. We are currently working on Christmas Decs as a group, with people learning colour work, shaping, experimenting with fun yarns and making up techniques, Individual projects include lace work baby blankets, hats, mitts, cardigans and fairisle squares for a blanket. We have recently covered blocking and mattress stitch as the large blanket is put together.


wpid-20131018_133210.jpgCrochet Thursdays – Various Dates, Eling Tide Mill Cafe, 7- 9pm

This group runs along the same lines as the Knit and Learn group, with a combination of beginners and improvers working on a range of projects. Sometimes the group chooses to have a 2 hour workshop, others we do an hour focusing on a specific technique and occasionally they all work individually and I float around the group to help. Beginners are welcome and you will get quite alot of individual attention. We usually meet once a month and the group is small and friendly. Currently we are making Christmas decorations and gifts. In the last session we created an amazing crochet rose!

Why not come along and joins us if you can! If you prefer to have individual lessons these are available too!

If you’d like to book a class, pop over to the events page and click the relevant link!


Specialist Groups

Headway Group

wpid-20140908_114913.jpgThis group is specifically for people who are living with an acquired brain injury. We have been running for 2 years and are now at a point where everyone is working individually on chosen projects in between sewing panels for a wall hanging quilt. Currently we have people learning to use sewing machines to make a variety of bags, loom knitting toys, crocheting fairies and sewing felt Christmas decs. The bag on the right is a box toiletries bag made by one of the men in the group. He has no use of his right side but is amazing on the sewing machine….this was very much a project where I was learning as I was teaching…. that’s one of the reasons I love this group so much, there’s always an interesting challenge and alot of fun!

Creative Options

wpid-20140729_110705.jpgThese are 2 specific groups for people experiencing enduring mental health issues. We work on a combination of small group projects such as a knitted / crocheted afternoon tea, egg cosies, Christmas Decs, flowers. The aim of the sessions are to build concentration, explore crafting as a way of managing symptom and to learn / extend skills. This group has a 50 /50 male female balance. Some members crochet and others prefer to knit. Not everyone wants to work on the group projects so the learning plan is flexible. Again learning packs and patterns are available to the group members. Many choose to work on their projects at home as a way of elevating mood, distracting themselves from troublesome symptoms and giving themselves a sense of achievement.


Workplace Groups

wpid-20140707_182146.jpgThese run over an hour and are based on the premise of supporting individuals with their chosen projects. I also supply handouts and offer a mini 15 min workshop covering a specific technique. Currently I have beginners crocheters learning to make granny squares or work from their 1st pattern, beginners knitters learning to make hats and flowers and more experienced knitters learning new techniques like the lace cast on and knitting on circulars using the magic loop.



I am of course busy working on commissions and getting some canvases made for an exhibition in December, as well as knitting for my gorgeous grandson…. I recently adapted a hoodie pattern and turned him into a very hungry caterpillar:


Southampton Community Craft Fair – 22nd Sept 2012

Well its craft fair time again and the applications are rolling in, and so are requests to be featured on the blog! Today is however sneak peak day! So here’s a quick preview of some of the lovely stalls we’ll be having along. This time we’re also offering facepainting, glitter tattoos and some make and take activities for adults and children. So if you’ve ever fancied knowing more about making mosaics or encaustic art, now’s your chance to find out! And for the kids, a great opportunity to make your own jewellery too! We’re still getting applications in for stalls, so we hope to have at least 20 people along on the day selling everything from knitted goods to art.

We’ve also released dates for the next 2 fairs – 3rd Nov and 8th Dec 2o12, so if you can’t make this one, then please come along to one of the others! We’ll be taking bookings as soon this fair finishes for stallholders! And for customers, a great opportunity to buy really unique Christmas gifts, meaning you don’t run the risk of duplicating gifts too!

One of the key aims of our fair is also to improve the experience of both stallholders and customers, so we’ve made some changes this time including:

  • Targetted Marketing
  • Contacting major employers and asking them to advertise on their intranets
  • Changing the posters to be easier to read and translate into community languages
  • Volunteer training
  • Improved signage around the building
  • Creating a decicated cafe and foodhall area

Here’s the bit you’ve been waiting for: – The stall holders who have confirmed to date:

1. Time for Me  Workshops – Margo Price

Margo is a multitalented crafter and is offering the opportunity for you to make mosiac coasters!

2. Kazies Encaustic Art

Karen is another multitalented lady who makes cushions and jewellery. But her passion is encaustic art – painting with an iron and wax. Her pictures are amazing and I’m determined to join one of her local workshops soon so I can have a go!

3. Naginas Bakery

Nagina is 16 and makes cakes to die for!  Her stall went really well last time and we’re really pleased she’s coming back!




4. Vintage Linens  – Basics Bank

The Basics Bank is a local charity, that provides help in terms of food, clothing and furniture to those in need. Lynne has a real eye for vintage and picks out anything special so that she can sell it at our events to help raise funds, so her stall is well worth a visit and definitely worth supporting.



5. Bits and Bobs Crafts

This is my company and I’ll be there showcasing my designs, taking orders for commissions and promoting up coming courses and classes





6.  Cakes All Occaisions

Tracy makes some fantastic cupcakes and will have a wide selection for us to try and enjoy!

7. Taylormade Jewellery

Sam Taylor makes all her own jewellery creations, this is her first event with us and we’re really looking forward to seeing her makes!



8. Silk Dreaming

Cara Sandys is a talented local artist and produces amazing jewellery from leather and fabrics which she sells in galleries in both the UK and Australia




9. Gifts with Elegance

Julia Willis and her friends are a co-operative of local crafters who make a wide range of beautiful things, again this is her “debut” at our fair and we’re waiting to see what she makes – but having seen her table at other fairs, I can honestly say its going to be a priviledge having her along.

10. LN Designs

Leisha Norman is a talented local lady who creates beautiful homewares with a vintage feel by recycling, upcycling and reusing. Her facebook page is well worth a visit!





11. Edona Moore and Sarah Pullinger – Face painting and Glitter Tattoos

Edona is a glitter tatooist, beauty therapist and nail artist – and runs a family friendly salon on Hayling Island. She specialises in providing parties for little ladies using child friendly products. Sartah is a talented local facepainter and we’re looking forward to seeing more of her work!

We’re also having our henna tatooist plus our selection of asian snacks too! And I have 5 forms still to be returned so it should be a really good day.

This afternoon we’ve run a training session for the volunteers who are helping us on the day covering everything from health and safety to customer care, so hopefully the day will run smoothly and we’ll all enjoy ourselves.