Local entrepreneur, Helen Ingram is the founder of Woolly Chic – a business selling a range of 100% British wool, unique crochet and knitting kits, gifts of her own design and instruction in the art of crochet. What began as a hobby and a love of all things woolly, has been transformed into a full-time occupation which she successfully manages to weave around her family. It’s clearly a tight-knit affair as her wool is produced from the fleece of sheep farmed on a family farm in Pembrokeshire, which is subsequently spun and dyed in Yorkshire.
We’re fortunate enough to count Helen Ingram as one of our regular workshop hosts and she’s back this year to teach a series of themed workshops suitable for beginners, improvers or for those already at home with a crochet needle, more advanced tuition.
Here’s Helen to tell us how she became hooked herself and why you might like to come along to one of her workshops to share her knitting secrets.
Has crochet always been your passion?
I have always loved making things, but it wasn’t until my children were tiny that I discovered my love of crochet and knitting. It is such a portable craft and I found that I always had a ball of wool and a crochet hook with me where ever I went. Crochet started as a hobby, then became a bit of an addiction and now it is my full time job.
How did you become qualified to teach others?
My Mum taught me the basics of both knitting and crochet, but largely I taught myself from books and by making lots of mistakes. I think this is why I love teaching other people because I can remember how awkward it felt and how it was mainly practice that helped me improve.
Is it hard to pick up the technique?
Like anything really, crochet takes practice and patience. However, there are only three basic stitches in crochet and once you have mastered these, the world is your oyster! Crochet is so versatile and so many beautiful things can be made with those three stitches or variations of those stitches.
Can you outline how your sessions work?
All my crochet workshops are suitable for either complete beginners or those that have some experience of crochet and want to improve their skills. This year at Hitchin Lavender I am teaching people how to crochet squares, either the traditional granny square or a corner to corner square and how to crochet mandalas and use beads in their crochet. People can also come along to an Introduction to Amigurumi workshop (Amigurumi is a Japanese term for crocheting soft toys) and a sunflower workshop, where people can crochet their own sunflower.
Class sizes are small – a maximum of 6 people, which should allow lots of one to one guidance and help for people to gain confidence in crochet.
The workshops are 2.5 hours and all materials, tuition and refreshments are included in the workshop fee of £25.
How do you explain the resurgence in its popularity?
Crochet has definitely grown in popularity; it is no longer something just for grannies! I think it partly appeals as a relatively quick and versatile craft that has become quite fashionable, but also more and more people want to make their own clothes and gifts as a way of consuming less and being more mindful of their environment.
How do your classes differ being at Hitchin Lavender?
Hitchin Lavender offers the perfect setting for my crochet workshops. The cabin is light and airy and has a stunning view across the lavender fields. Also the cakes are delicious!