Hello, nice to see you. Who are you and where do you come from?
I’m Eirian, a 40-something married mam of 2. I’m originally from Birmingham, but have lived in and around Cardiff since I came to study French at Cardiff University in 1989. Old story, came away for university, met a Welshman, never left! In my professional life, I’m Head of MFL at a High School in Cardiff.
What’s your crafting story?
I’ve done bits and pieces since I was a little girl. I learnt to crochet first from a book called First steps in Crochet by Patons when I was 7 or 8. I got as far as the granny square, and stayed there for a long time. Knitting was a complete no-no – my mom tried to teach me when I was a child, but I was too clumsy with 2 needles and got nowhere … so stuck with making Granny squares for Oxfam blankets.
I started patchwork and quilting in between finishing my degree and starting my PGCE – for the first time in what seemed like forever, I had no exams to work for, and dived into my mom’s stash of quilting fabric.
Patchwork and quilting were an all-consuming passion through the 1990s. I made dozens of quilts, exhibiting and competing all over the UK from big shows at the NEC, to small, invitation-only shows in Llangollen. I also taught in my spare time.
Fast forward to 2002, with me expecting my first child. I suffered with Pelvic Girdle Pain and coccydynia, and was unable to sit for long periods at my beloved sewing machine, so I re-discovered crochet. I’ve been crocheting ever since, and have taught crochet at a local yarn shop (Calon Yarns in Cardiff). I’ve also published a few of my designs – I’m CymraesCrochet on Ravelry.
I finally taught myself to knit properly following a car accident in 2013 left me unable to crochet without severe pain. I’m not the world’s greatest knitter by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m more rubbish at sitting still, so knitting it is!
I had a spinning wheel for my 40th birthday and love spinning, but the car accident has left that something that I’ll have to come back to later.
What’s your Cwtch of Comfort story?
A colleague of mine at work took part in the very first events for 2 Wish upon a Star and told me the story of how the charity was founded. I was amazed at Rhian’s resilience and in awe at her determination to turn such a tragic sequence of events into something positive, but as I am the opposite of sporty, I could do no more than sponsor my colleague, & follow 2 Wish on Facebook. I supported the events through sponsorship and donations, but was very aware that that was the limit of what I could do.
When Rhian posted about the proposed contents of the bereavement boxes, I realised that here was a way that I could help the charity and do my bit for bereaved parents. I suggested that we should include blankets, and from that, Cwtch of Comfort was born.
My reason for wanting to do this for others was that as a patchworker and a crocheter, I had heard of the Project Linus and SANDS blankets projects, and thought that this was a way that I, a completely non-sporty person, could do my bit for others who had suffered the immense tragedy of losing a child suddenly. I’d not been in that awful position myself, but as a woman who had suffered repeated miscarriages, and who had been supported through that by volunteers, this was my way to give back.
My first blanket was one that I gave to Rhian, for George. She hadn’t had a blanket to cover him with after his sudden death, and that she could keep as a link to him, so this was to make up for that.
Where is your Cwtch of Comfort Journey going next?
Well, I’m only now getting around to try and give Cwtch of Comfort a wider audience. Unfortunately, these blankets and quilts are still needed, so we now need to try to reach a wider audience. My own crafting is severely curtailed at the moment as I’ve recently undergone surgery to correct the problem caused by the car accident in 2013, so this is a perfect opportunity for me to get going on the blog and social media side of things.
I’m also intending to set up a stitch-in for Cwtch – where we can have people come to sit and knit or crochet, and hopefully we can teach people new to knitting and crochet the skills that they will need to make their own square or blanket.
Once I’m back to full function with my hand, I’ll be back to making blankets for Cwtch.