In Ilkley there is a lovely shop called Create. It started out as a pottery painting place and then diversified into wool and now it is an Aladdin's cave of all things crafty.
I like crafty. There is something so satisfying about forming something with your hands, using skills that women have been using for hundreds of years. Food doesn't really count because it is gone so quickly but to make something that will last and is useful to boot has always floated my boat.
I can't remember a time when I couldn't knit although I have only very vague and possibly inaccurate memories of my mother teaching me. I learned to crochet whilst working in an old peoples' home when I was 12. I have never really mastered sewing but I can embroider quite well and with this handful of skills there are lots of projects that I can sink my teeth into.
Create periodically runs courses and from time to time I take myself along. This week there was a crocheting course. Nothing too taxing: just consolidating skills that I already have and giving plenty of ideas and inspiration as to how to use them to create beautiful things.
I love these days. We sit around a large table with plenty of coffee and introduce ourselves. We are women of a certain age with varying degrees of ability but a hunger to learn. And then the tutor appears with a handmade bag from which she pulls gorgeous little trinkets beautifully crafted using the skills that we are about to learn. The excitement amongst the students is palpable because a love of yarn and what can be done with it is something that we all share. You can see cogs whirring as we all try and work out how we can adapt each pattern to suit our stash of available wool or how it might look if you changed the colorway or used a bigger hook or a smaller one.
And the rest of the day passes in a blur of chat and laughter and cursing and coffee and before you know it you are heading home with a bag of goodies, an enormous sense of pride and an insatiable desire to get on with the next project using the new yarn that you have almost certainly bought with your course discount.
I probably won't see most of the women that I met until we land up on another course together but the camaraderie that is born of spending a day learning a new skill with like minded people is difficult to replicate in other parts of my life. And yet I am still a sponge, eager to learn new things and develop the skills that I have. Maybe not skills for life but certainly skills to add pleasure and a sense of purpose to an otherwise busy existence. And that in itself is of immeasurable value to me.