In the latest of our blog post collaborations I have had the pleasure to chat with Sally Coomber from ‘I Can Craft’. Thank you for taking the time Sally.
Christine @Rations2R_n_R (C). Please tell our readers about your background and the woman behind ‘I Can Craft’.
@sally_coomber ‘I Can Craft’ (S) The woman behind I Can Craft is Sally who is 51 and not bothered who knows my age. I am married to Dave and I have 3 children ranging in age from 27 years to 15 years. Before I Can Craft (ICC) was born I worked in primary education as a Teaching Assistant, working with special need in mainstream school; a job I loved and would have been happy to stay in had life not decided it was time for a change.
I started to learn to crochet at age 5, taught by my dad, and by 8 I was teaching myself how to read patterns and making clothes…knitting came along next and although I enjoy knitting, and teaching it, it does not hold the same excitement for me as crochet does.
(C) I would love to know about the inspiration that led to ‘I Can Craft’.
(S) The inspiration for ICC goes way back to when I was about 9. An Austrian lady called Louise (not her real Austrian name but I can’t remember that as we didn’t use it) started coming into school for an afternoon with us girls where we crocheted and sewed and chatted. I came to the conclusion that if you had to have a job as an adult this was the job to have and that thought stayed with me for many years. In my school job I volunteered to run many after school clubs from knitting to miniatures to crafts. I did it all so when the time came it all rolled together and there we are. The name came about because of the amount of kids who would say ‘I cant do this’ so I would repeat ‘I can’ to them.
(S) ICC is just over 3 years old. When I started out it was my intention to offer after school clubs and curriculum time activities only, but I got asked to do a fun knitting session with special needs adults and loved it so much I decided working with adults had to be included; which would also give me the opportunity to involve my first love of crochet a lot more. Crochet has almost taken over now.
(S) I offer lots of different services. Adult all level crochet and beginner knitting workshops. After school clubs which I have now whittled down to 2 kinds; woolly club which involves lots of traditional and ancient knitting, and weaving techniques…all using equipment that is made from items found around the home so the kids can replicate it easy, and arty craft club where any craft goes. I have been known to do the odd kids woolly party and small hen parties as an option. I am also just starting to add beginners needlefelting and wet felting to the list. I also take the occasional crochet commision, whether it is a pattern that you have that you want making up, or just an idea for an item you would like or an intricate table centre…they are my favourite.
(S) Well I live in Upholland West Lancashire and I generally use a 15 mile radius for accepting work, but find that most of my adult work is around St Helens, although Ormskirk, Southport and Wigan are all places I have worked over the last 3 years.
(S) I consider every adult who becomes as obsessed with crochet and wool as i am an achievement, as they have found themselves a hobby that will bring them joy and relaxation.
Relaxation in today’s stressful world, I think is an essential thing, but before ICC was born and it was in the planning stages I worked with a 10 year old visually impaired child who also had learning difficulties. He was years behind his peers academically, and was really struggling, so I taught him to knit and later to crochet. He was amazing. He couldn’t read so I read line by line the patterns and later taught him to just think of the shape he was trying to create and he would just do it. We also found that knitting for a few minutes before he did academic work helped concentrate his mind and he learnt more. Then I taught the rest of the class to knit and suddenly this child was the one who got asked for help. He was the expert so his social status shall we say increased. Knitting helped this child in so many ways it was amazing.
(C) Have you met any obstacles on your journey?
(S) I suppose the biggest obstacle has been myself. The reason ICC actually happened, and didn’t stay a dream, is because I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia (yes that thing Lady Gaga has) and later arthritis. Doing a ‘normal’ job became impossible as my mobility has been severely affected and I use crutches to help me walk. Constant pain and fatigue are a major part of my day and ICC enables me to manage my diary better. I have many thoughts and ideas that simply have to be shelved, which is very frustrating, but then I teach a crochet class and suddenly the world feels right again…this I can do and I’m pretty good at it too. I have had to accept that ICC will always be limited…
(S) Other passions, I’m afraid are all craft related. I like to dabble in spinning yarn with a drop spindle; something i’m getting better at all the time. I have occasionally dabbled with watercolour paints and have produced an odd good picture…me and paint is a whole other story. When I get the time I am working on renovating a dolls house in 1:12 scale. It’s going to be a major job. I love miniature crochet (yes it gets in everywhere). A major passion for me of course is wool. I love modern day acrylics in all there amazing colours but I also love less modern yarns. I have about 200 1oz balls of these.
(S) Women inspiration… women in general inspire me the way they juggle the lives of all around them making sure everything is as it should be. The increasing number of women setting up small businesses which they can fit in around everything else; giving themselves both a mental release and a way to earn money. Historically I come back to crochet again and Queen Victoria who was a major factor behind the popularisation of crochet in the UK. She both crocheted and tunisian crocheted and made it very popular amongst, not only the upper, but the lower classes. Such a shame films never seem to show her love of all things crochet, and let’s not forget the poor Irish women who crocheted lace with a wire stuck in a piece of cork to earn a few pennies.
(C) Do you have plans for the future that you are able to share?
(S) Plans at the moment are around the idea that not every one has the ability through either physical health or mental health or the time to attend a crochet workshop at a venue. So I have just started to advertise ‘host your own’ sessions where between 2-8 people, that you invite to your home, can have a crochet workshop and I bring it all to you. Of course this is also suited to small hen parties or girlie get togethers or boys of course…lots of men crochet or want to crochet.
(C) Where can ‘I Can Craft’ be found on Social Media?
(S) Social media…facebook.com/icancraftuk, instagram.com/icancraft_uk and twitter.com/sally_coomber.
(S) I can be contacted in the first instance through any of my social media, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and if none of those are an option by phone 0794 1969 184.
It has been a privilege to read your story Sally. My sincere gratitude and best wishes for the future.
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