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Great Things Happen During a Pandemic

knitting

I'm passionate about crochet. I first learned to crochet at the age of 16 while on a French exchange. My French pen-friend had learned to make granny squares and she showed me how. During the next few years I continued to crochet, making small items from books and patterns.

Then family life became more hectic and for a while I had to put down my hooks. We lived in Northwood, Hertfordshire, for 33 years. During our time there, we brought up our four lovely children. Six years ago, my husband Michael and I moved to a new home between the north-west London suburbs of Edgware and Stanmore.

A year after the move I remembered my old love of crochet and it was like riding a bike - you don't forget! I joined Rose Glaskie's newly-formed ESRA Netanya knitting and crochet group in December 2018, and attended whenever we stayed at our holiday apartment in Ir Yamim, Netanya. Joining Rose's wonderful group was one of the best things I've done in years. The knitters and "hookers", as crocheters are now sometimes called, are a fabulous group of enthusiastic ladies of varying ages. From the start, there were large numbers at all the Sunday morning meetings. Its popularity is entirely a testament to Rose, who is terrific at managing the group. A teacher by training, she's very good at persuading ladies to join, even if their knitting skills are basic. We make jumpers, sleeveless vests, hats and scarves for 4-6-year-old Ethiopian children in schools in Netanya. Knee blankets are also made for the elderly and baby clothes for the maternity unit at Laniado Hospital.

Then suddenly disaster struck in the shape of Covid-19. Unfortunately, all weekly ESRA knitting and crocheting meetings had to stop in March 2020 due to the social distancing rules and lockdown. In April, Rose asked me if I would teach a beginners' crochet class to five ladies from Netanya.

When she first asked me, I thought long and hard. I'd never taught before, having studied business, French and German in Newcastle where I grew up. Although I crochet to an advanced level, I'm happiest crocheting intermediate projects: post stitches, bobbles, clusters, puffs and so on. I love to follow one particular designer whose style is exceptional. For quite some time it had been my intention to contribute in some way to charity, and this offer from Rose would allow me to do something good, to repay society after we as a family had been helped in a wonderful way by both friends and strangers during a very difficult period of our lives.

I decided to take on the challenge and prepared for each class. I made short explanatory videos and stitch patterns to send out after each class. The learning curve was steep. You have to slow down when you're teaching beginners to crochet. I also had to get used to the vagaries of filming and hosting on my iPad and iPhone. Eventually I preferred to film from my iPad, which involves crocheting over it. I started with a free Zoom account, but that meant we were limited to 40 minutes, so finally I subscribed to Zoom. Some in the class needed additional one-to-ones when requiring extra help. The amazing part is that the ladies in Israel were able to learn from my virtual classes filmed at home in the UK - the wonders of modern technology.

Teaching these classes has been the best and most rewarding experience. It has given me, and hopefully those I'm teaching, great enjoyment during a time of huge stress, boredom and uncertainty. It has been a most welcome distraction. After 14 weekly classes, I'm proud that those in ESRA Class 1 are now able to follow intermediate patterns. I continue to meet with them weekly for coffee and crochet.

ESRA Class 2 consists of eight ladies, (five in the UK and three in Netanya), who have now almost finished their course. They're progressing nicely and will be joining the other ladies in Class 1 in a few weeks' time. Both classes are full to capacity as is a third class of nine ladies due to start at the end of November 2020. Interest in the crochet class has been phenomenal. In just one week I've had four enquiries as to availability and that's only through word of mouth.

Michael and I haven't been able to travel to Netanya since before the March lockdown. I've got more than 50 finished items for ESRA. If we don't get out in March 2021, we will need a couple of suitcases - or possibly a forklift truck.

This challenge has persuaded me to become a crochet designer. I've designed eight items so far and they're now being pattern-tested by some of my students. My intention is to sell these patterns on lovecrafts.com in order to raise funds for ESRA, which, like other charities and businesses, are struggling due to the economic impact of the virus.

It's been such a pleasurable and rewarding experience. I could never have imagined that anything so great could happen during a pandemic.

You can find me at: TinKa Hooks on lovecrafts.com and my personal profile page: www.lovecrafts.com 

 

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Monday, 02 August 2021

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