St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly WI members are used to keeping busy and sociable in the quieter months. The thriving Craft Group, comprising over half of the total membership, meets weekly from October to March, the “off season”, and has become a valued and important part of winter life on this small island.
Each year members suggest new crafts to try or previously enjoyed ones to revisit. A subscription of £25 for the 21 weeks is paid upfront by most women, meaning that the room hire is prepaid and the remaining kitty is available for materials or the occasional visiting tutor. Anybody wanting to drop in or only attend occasionally pays £2 a session. All members take it in turns to provide the snacks – often a highlight of the afternoon – when everyone downs tools, mingles and looks at what has been made so far. It always astounds the group that with the same tuition and materials they are able to produce such amazingly varied results.
Some crafts take a single session, others spread over a few weeks, and one or two “catch up” sessions are fitted in. Any WI members are welcome to join in or simply observe and chat.
New crafts for 2021/2 included Dorset buttons, fabric embroidered beads, clasp purses, 3D needle felting, paper marbling, eggshell mosaics and moulding bowls from old vinyl records. It has become a tradition to put on a display at the March meeting of what the women have all made.
The group invariably ends in March with a new wish list of crafts for the season ahead. Ideas for 2022/3 currently include paste papermaking, stitched hardback books, mandala stones, clay pottery, twine and foraged basket weaving, origami and button art, with zentangle designs and pin pricked stitched cards being requested again.
In the eight years since the group was formed, 76 different crafts have been tried and membership has grown from 5 to 18.