Saturday, 21 February 2015

A stitch in time. Part two: interview with a Crochet Ninja

In the previous blog I wrote about the great health and relaxationbenefits of knitting and crochet. Today I’m chatting to one of NUI Galway’s leading Crochet Ninjas, Ashla Ward.
Rab: Why did you begin crocheting?
Ashla: 5 years ago on a whim I joined a crochet class in NUIG run by the very talented Ann Quinn. Crochet is a very versatile craft and you can use virtually any material to make a piece. I have crocheted with old T-Shirt strips, plastic, thick wool, fine cotton, embroidery thread, twine. Crochet is quiet a free movement craft –there is only one hook and the crochet piece lends itself to make any shape. After the classes a few of us got together to meet at lunch times and that started the NUIG Knit and Crochet Group. We went on to try lots of group projects together. Our facebook page has a summary of our work.
Rab: What projects have you done with other people?
Ashla: The NUI Galway Knit and Crochet Group have made pieces for the Múscailt festival. We ‘yarn bombed’ the Tree outside Aras na Mac Leinn which lasted in the wind and the rain of Galway for about a year!   
We moved on to Doli-icious and this was our most challenging piece technically and it is now permanently framed in The View, in Aras na Mac Leinn. We collaborated with Athenry Craft and Chat and we made a coat for a vintage tractor which was a lot of fun. 

Rab: What are the benefits for you of crocheting?
Ashla: I am not good at drawing and always assumed that this meant I could not be creative but crochet opened the door of creativity to me. It is a real gift. There is a sense of wonder in making something with your own hands. In school, in college, in work we rarely connect with the momentum of manual work and how the movement of the hands can calm the mind and bring it into the present. I have made some great friends through the craft and we have created some amazing group projects that I am very proud to have made. Being able to crochet has allowed me to help out with many local and national charities and there is a real sense of satisfaction when giving back to communities. 

Rab: What charities have you suppported?
Ashla: Féileacáin which makes baby blankets for families bereaved by neo-natal deaths. The Innocent Smoothie Appeal which makes hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles to raise funds for Age Action. I also enjoy

making crochet products and selling them in a local Christmas market for charity. I've also created and sold brooches for Heart Children Ireland.

Rab: What makes you crochet what you crochet?
Ashla: I like a challenge so I try to learn new techniques in my crochet projects. At the moment I am looking at the technique

of overlay mandalas.

Rab: Are there any craft groups in Galway that people can join.
Ashla: CaféCreate – Saturday morning in Menlo Park Hotel
Westside Library Knitting & Crochet Group on Wednesday afternoons
Blue Note on Wednesdays at 8pm.
I would recommend that you check with the organisers in advance to check times and see if they accept beginners or people with a certain skill level. If you do not want to commit to a group there is a whole world of free information about knitting and crochet on the web – Ravelry and  Pinterest in particular. Many blog spots will have ‘crochet along’ or ‘knit along’ events where you can learn new techniques and interact as you go. Youtube is an excellent way to learn.
Rab: What other creative things do you do?
Ashla: Cooking, cross stitch & dabbling in the garden.

Rab: How else do you do to relax?
Ashla: I love going to a live event – a play, a gig, a talk, a musical - just getting transported into the world of another. 
Rab: Thanks for chatting with the blog Ashla. For more on the benefits of knitting and crochet check out stitchlinks 

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For more on how to look good, feel good and be in charge of your life as a student at NUI Galway check out Student's Services Health Promotion  Students at NUI Galway can also sign up for the free online health and wellness magazine Student Health 101

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