There are many many reasons I love my local branch of the WI. I’ve met some lovely women and had a great laugh with them. But most of all I love that fact that one evening a month I get to leave the house and the responsibilities of being a mum behind for an evening and I go and do something for myself.
Our particular WI branch is what many refer to as “one of those modern ones” in that it’s about as far removed from the stereotypical Jam and Jerusalem image of the WI as you can get. With ages between 24 and 70-something (as far as I remember) they’re a really refreshing bunch of women with a wide range of interests and skills. Our programme is pretty diverse and in my time there I’ve done everything from making nipple tassels (honestly!) to learning how to decorate cupcakes.
Last night’s meeting was a simple speed crafting affair, but gave me the opportunity to learn two new skills.
First up was the organza flower making. Now this was something I’d never tried before, and I’m not sure I’ve ever worked with organza before either. It’s really not difficult, but you do need a steady hand as, most to my surprise, it involved naked flames!
You cut 8 circles from the organza, in four different sizes – two of each, and then carefully hold the edge of each one near a candle flame to seal it and stop it fraying. The organza melts slightly in heat you see, but that means that if it touches the flames it’s actually rather flammable. Once the edges are sealed you can then also hold your organza circle over the flame, very carefully, and the heat will melt the organza slightly making it change shape, becoming more petal like.
I should admit that I had to throw away one of my smaller circles when the heat from the candle actually burnt a hole through it, but it didn’t seem to make that much difference to the finished article. The organza petals are then placed on top of each other, a few holding stitches placed in the middle and then some small beads or buttons sewn on to create the centre of the flower. I added a brooch clip on the back, but you could instead put it on a hair clip or even just sew it directly on to something else. Just remember not to use a hot glue gun as the result might be a bit of a disaster!
Once the flower was finished it was time to move on to what we’d started to call ninja knitting after watching the other half of the group have a go – arm knitting. Now, I’d heard of finger knitting before, but never got my head around how it worked. Arm knitting is similar, but as the name suggests uses arms instead. All you need is two balls of chunky wool and your arms, although it is much easier if you remove any watches, bracelets or large rings.
Casting on was a bit of a faff at first until you’ve got your head around which way to pass things, but once that’s done and you’re into the proper knitting it’s actually really simple and incredibly therapeutic.
In 30 minutes I managed to use up all the chunky yarn that I’d found in my stash at home, but I’ll definitely be looking to get my hands on some more to try this again. The woman who was teaching us had managed to make herself a long chunky scarf in about 50 minutes, and I imagine one would make a great Christmas present for someone.
If you want to have a go yourself I’ve found this video on YouTube which explains it all very clearly. Quite long, but worthwhile, even if you’ve not knit before.
No wonder I love my monthly WI nights so much. Next month vintage hair dos!