Getting crafty in Kent

How to knit, bead, quilt and sew with the Kent experts – and win craft books to help you become one too!

Getting crafty in Kent

How to knit, bead, quilt and sew with the Kent experts – and win craft books to help you become one too!

The Organisation

The Thanet Quilters

Kay Thorne, chairperson

The Thanet Quilters have been going for 20 years and it all began with an idea by members of a group called the Thanet Patchers, who were based in Ramsgate.

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Under the leadership of Eileen Radford (who now lives in France) meetings were arranged at the Ramsgate Community Centre. Other local Thanet patchworkers were contacted and invited to join in. and so the Thanet and District Quilters was born.

“At the moment we have about 100 members and we meet four times a year at Church House in Birchington,” says Kay Thorne, chairperson.

“Our meetings are very relaxed and friendly and open to anyone with a passion for the art of patchwork and quilting (even if they don’t belong to a local quilting group).

“We have ‘show and tell’ sessions during these meetings. The quality of the work is generally outstanding and we have among our members several national and international exhibitors and prize winners. We are hugely proud of them and the quality of the work they produce.”

Kay adds: “As a group we are also very proud of the work that the Thanet Quilters undertake for charitable organisations. All members take part, contributing blocks made in their groups and every year we present our chosen charity with some outstanding quilts for auction or raffle.

“The Thanet Quilters represents a great way for people who have a love of quilting and crafts to get together, talk about what they love with like-minded souls, get tips and hints and be part of a real community.”

The Thanet Quilters, Church House, Kent Gardens, Birchington CT7 9RS

01843 823849 (Kay Thorne)

The Hub


Tricia Covington, shop owner


“My daughter and I had always wanted to set up a shop like this and a few years ago we finally realised our dream. Although ostensibly a yarn shop, Yarnia is much more than that,” says Tricia Covington.

“We like to think of ourselves as a community backed business, somewhere where people with an interest in crafts can come along and sit, work and chat. It’s an informal space where crafters can spend time amongst people with similar interests to them.

“The shop also hosts several craft groups too.  For example, every Tuesday evening is knitting club night, although we don’t mind what craft people do really, it’s just a good opportunity to meet up and have lots of tea, cakes and chat. It generally kicks off at 6pm and finishes at about 9.30pm, although there is no problem with people coming and going as they please.

“We also have a patchwork group, a group that is an off-shoot of a freecyle community and primarily uses recycled textiles and a stitch-therapy group, which is aimed at those who have had a long-term illness and/or their careers.

“In addition to the groups, we have several workshops too, where people can come along and learn more about a particular craft. These workshops cover areas such as patch-working, the creation of wall-hangs, quilt making and peg looming.

“We are thinking of running a Sunday school nearer Christmas too, which will give people the chance to come and learn how to make something like an advent calendar, a stocking or a seasonal placemat.

“The shop is also involved with Project Linus (named in part after the character in Peanuts, who was never seen without his security blanket) which seeks to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new, home-made patchwork quilts and knitted/crocheted blankets.

“There are about six or seven ladies who regularly come and use the shop who are always at hand to help towards our contribution to this project.

“We haven’t been open that long but, despite being quite a challenge financially, we are both delighted by how Yarnia has done so far. We really feel that it has become part of the community and although many of our customers enter the shop as strangers, they tend also to leave as friends.”

Yarnia, 18 Nuxley Road, Belvedere DA17 5JF


The Teacher

Village Textiles

Barbara Inchley

“I have always been a teacher, working in a secondary school for many years teaching science. I’ve also always sewn and eventually got to unite the two via my work for the Kent Adult Education Service, where for many years I taught the full range of City & Guilds design and craft stitched textile courses,” says Barbara Inchley.

Following the recent changes in Government policy with regard to life-long learning, (essentially the withdrawing of funding for all City & Guilds design and craft-stitched textile courses, with the exception for those aged 16 to 18), I was approached by City & Guilds who asked me to establish my own micro-centre offering some of the courses that I had previously taught for the Kent Adult Education Service.

“I was very flattered, as I was one of only a handful of tutors who had been picked out to do something like this. And so that’s how Village Textile came into being. I offer a range of accredited City & Guilds courses in design and craft embroidery and machine embroidery.

“I also offer several non-accredited courses covering different aspects of crafts such as canvas work and stitching. I have a wide age-range of people who come here, from people in their late-teens to women in their eighties.

“And demand for what’s on offer here is extremely high, to the point that there are more potential students that can really be catered for. I think crafts are going through something of a surge in popularity, which is reflected in the high level of demand for Village Textile’s courses.

“It’s great when one of my students goes on to a further, more advanced course, which happens with some of the younger students, and then on to a career that is related to what they began studying here.

“However, not everyone comes to make a career out of crafts and many enrol for the simple joy of learning. Whatever their reasons, it’s always satisfying to watch someone blossom during the course and I feel very lucky to be teaching something that I enjoy so much.”

Village Textiles

The Long Barn, Dilnot Lane, Acol, Birchington CT7 0HW

01843 847705 or

The Solo Artist

Daisy Chain


“I have always had an interest in jewellery and after leaving my job in London in Human Resources to look after my daughter Daisy, who will be three in April, I decided to use any spare time I had to pursue my hobby of making jewellery,” says Michelle Waters.

“I still work part time as an admin assistant, but now I’ve been able to turn my hobby into a part-time business.

“After self teaching, I decided to take classes to develop and improve my skills and I now really enjoy experimenting with different beads and learning new techniques.

I use a variety of beads, including semi-precious stones, Swarovski and Murano, to make bracelets, necklaces, earrings and more unusual items such as wine-glass charms and handbag charms.

“I sell my jewellery through jewellery parties, craft fairs, charity events and through friends and family and am in the process of developing my website so people can view and buy my designs online.

“The jewellery parties I hold include some basic beading and an area I am developing is holding children’s parties where each child can make a unique piece of jewellery.

Daisy Chain

30 Langley Way, Kings Hill, West Malling ME19 4NJ

01732 874592 or 07824554579

Five more crafty classes to try

�— Potting: make a pot or two of your own, 23 Apr-5 Jul, �94-�118, Chipstead Craft Studios, Chipstead, Sevenoaks TN13 2RY, 01732 451730

�— Flower arranging: learn the basics in an afternoon, 16 Mar, �25, Hadlow College, Hadlow TN11 0AL, 0500 551434

�— Sugarcraft: decorate your own celebration cake, 18 Apr-26 Jun, �92, Dartford Adult Education Centre, Dartford DA1 2LP, 0845 6065606

�— Curtain making: create that professional look, �70, 5-19 May, Canterbury Adult Education Centre, Canterbury CT2 8QA, 0845 6065606

�— Upholstery: give new life to that tatty chair, 26 Apr-5 Jul, �92, Tonbridge Adult Education Centre, Tonbridge TN9 1TG

READER COMPETITION If this article has inspired you to try your hand at a new craft, then six lucky readers can each win a bundle of the following four best-sellers in these categories:

Knitting: 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet

Jewellery: Compendium of Beading Techniques

Quilting: Iris Quilting

Textiles: Making Cushion Covers

Published by Tunbridge Wells-based Search Press, who have generously donated the 24 beautifully illustrated paperbacks, you can win your own collection by answering this simple question:

Q: What anniversary did Search Press celebrate in 2010?

A: 30th

B: 40th

C: 50th

Mark your entry ‘Crafts’ and email to: or send on a postcard to: Kent Life, Baskerville Place, 288 Teville Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1UG. Please include your full name, address and daytime tel no.

Deadline for entries: 15 March 2012.

For competition guidelines, see: print/terms

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