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Window of opportunity

If you passed Crosshatch Gallery in Winsford recently you would have noticed a particularly colourful window display

But what do elaborately tied knots, a number of tiny ornate books and a bicycle bedecked with bright yarn have in common? They were all born out of creativity that thrived during lockdown.

“The best part of lockdown for me was being able to spend more time in my craft room,” says Lesley Birbeck. Thanks to You Tube tutorials, inspiration from Pinterest and a host of talented bloggers, she was able to learn and expand her knowledge on how to create mini books and journals – something she had long wanted to do.

“Although the original plan was to use them for photos, I soon discovered how much more exciting they could be with the addition of embellishments and ephemera, and thanks to the internet, I was still able to buy materials I needed to enjoy my new hobby,” says Lesley.

“I still love to create these journals today, each one I make is unique and different and with so much choice now of new and exciting products constantly being available in the crafting world, you can never be bored or stuck for ideas.”

Ian Rogers had a similar experience. He was already a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and finding time on his hands and limited resources during Covid he set out to attempt a knotting challenge.

“Some years previously I had acquired The Finnish Seaman’s Service book which was full of such challenges. The only problem was, all the instructions in the book were in Finnish,” says Ian. “As I don't read or speak Finnish I had to work out from the pictures how to tie the mats.

“The first one I made I had to construct a jig and it took a large amount of rope and several attempts to get it right. If I had made the other mats full size I would have had nowhere to store them! The other mat designs were made in smaller diameter cord and I attached them to boards with painted designs.”

Ian’s work sits alongside the intricate craftsmanship of Karen Miles, who says that 2020 was a year “tinged with sadness” for her personally.

“I’d just lost my beloved mum, the first of our last two dogs passed away, my husband had a stroke and finally the last of our dogs passed away. To top it all off there was now a major pandemic and the nation as a whole was forced into lockdown.

But as our movements were restricted Karen found solace in crafts.

“It gave me the opportunity to indulge in my favourite pastime – cross-stitching. This kept me sane throughout that whole bleak period.

As part of Covid-19 Reflections, in Winsford, trees have been planted alongside the Marina in memory of this time. Meanwhile, Crosshatch gallery invited the community to reflect on their personal creativity during the pandemic.

People submitted their work for display in their shop window, while local groups who already met at Crosshatch made brand new work. The driving force behind this was Sharon OBrien, who started a Yarn Bombing group to bring her group’s creations to the wider community. Their colourfully decorated bicycle now takes pride of place in the Crosshatch window display.

If you pass Crosshatch Gallery again and their impressive window display catches your eye, why not pop in? This fantastic community space has a packed timetable of classes, from beginners crochet, knit and natter, and yarn bombing, to art classes, pottery, and journaling. Lockdown may have inspired Winsford to get creative, but Crosshatch is ensuring it stays that way.

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