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EPISODE 6 - Charlotte from FUNKY MAKERS

This week we have enjoyed the company of Charlotte from Funky Makers.

I met Charlotte through the incredible Eco Community Local Non Profit Organisation Greener and Cleaner Bromley and Beyond.

I had already started my sustainable journey a few years back, but it felt so isolating . I was doing bits at home, and at work; auditing the plastic I was using, and how I could reuse the items I had at home and at work.

But when I joined Greener and Cleaner, I truly felt part of a team of a community of likeminded people that would go beyond their ways to support and educate others in more sustainable practises. Their scope covered clean air, housing associations, school practises and anything to do with reducing waste, finding ways around to reuse and to find more eco friendly ways of living our daily lives, as families, humans, organisations and so on.

And Charlotte was the star of upcycling and using recycled materials, and she was so inspiring, so when she reached and asked me to run a free tutorial to upcycle glass jars.. I was truly touched.

We met, and we just clicked. I taught her how to do the basic macramé knots and she was so good. She supported me in what would become my first ever workshops and from that day on, we support, inspire and help each other in anyway we can, within Green and Cleaner, and well, Beyond. We have become dear friends now. Art friends, Craft friends, Small, Indie Business friends, and just friends, because she is incredible. I just love hanging out with her.

She upcycles, she knits, she crochets, she macrames, and she is a clear example of what true craftwomanship is all about.

Check our Instagram chat for other tricks and ideas of how you can do beautiful crafts pieces with things you have around the house. She brought along lots of easy and gorgeous looking pieces of work that you can do with things that you would generally put in the bin. Reuse and revamp.

She has created too a great Christmas Craft event Series with Greener and Cleaner to create Sustainable handmade Christmas decorations, presents and wrapping techniques. I was lucky enough to join her to launch the series. Check out our first online tutorial and join her and Pascale Roura to learn how to wrap presents using the Japanese technique of Furoshiki.

Most wrapping paper is not recyclable, so learning this will be super useful for years to come. Join her this coming Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Greener and Cleaner Facebook Group.

I leave you now with Charlotte and her journey.

Charlotte English in her own words.

I honestly can’t remember not having a pair of knitting needles of some kind in my hands.

I think I had a short pair of plastic knitting needles as a Christmas present by the time I started school.

I come from a large Irish Family, Knitting was the norm in my family, My Mum, My Nan, My GreatGran (we used to call her SuperGran) all knit or crocheted. We used to go to my Nan’s every Sunday afternoon and in the winter when it was too wet and cold to do anything outside all of us would be sitting in the living room round the open fire knitting or crocheting and chatting. I wanted to be part of that group so pestered to learn how to knit and the journey started. My Nan had the most patience with me, like most grandparents do. I was knitting dolls scarves and dresses and jumpers before long. By the time I was 10, I was knitting wearable garments for myself or at least I thought that they were wearable, wish I had some photos from back then. My Great Gran did try to teach me to crochet but I didn’t quite get on with it back then, that came later.

My Mum supplemented the household income by knitting aran jumpers for the locals and someone was so impressed the put her in touch with a company that exported Irish Aran Jumpers to the United States. She was getting paid much more for that and it became a little family cottage industry. That’s when my knitting skills grew rapidly! Initially Mum trusted me to knit the ribs on the base of the jumpers and the cuffs of the sleeves, then she would teach me simple Aran stiches and cables and would allow me to do the baby and kids jumpers up to the arm pits until the shoulder shaping started and gradually I built up all the skills to make full adult sized garments.

We had very little career guidance at secondary school in Ireland and any career guidance we did get only took academic abilities into consideration. My parents were very traditional in their views of appropriate careers, so I went to college to become a Programmer.

The idea of a creative or textiles career back then was unheard of, in today’s world, it would definitely be considered an option. I managed to knit my way through college which paid my rent as I got paid quite handsomely back then for my craft. There was a massive American market for Irish Aran garments handmade in Ireland and they were willing to pay an appropriate rate for it. To be honest if I could earn the time inflated amount for knitting a garment now, I’d be in a very happy place.

Fast Fashion has a lot to answer for in terms of devaluing the skills of craftmanship.

After I left college and with no job prospects in Ireland I was drawn by the bright lights of London and a career in a corporate environment, I didn’t have so much time for my knitting so it took a back seat for a few years. It wasn’t until I met my partner and we bought a home together that my love of crafts resurfaced. Money was tight in those first few years until the interest rate dropped, so I repurposed soft furnishings and various finds for our home to achieve the look that I wanted.

When my son was born 12 years ago, I picked up the bug again to knit cardigans, jumpers and blankets for him. I also got the bug for several other crafts like crochet and papercraft. When he started school, I got heavily involved in the school Parent Teacher Association. I ran the craft stalls at every school fair and they were so successful, I was invited to do some craft work at the school which led to me starting to run lunchtime and after school clubs. I ran Knitting lunchtime clubs, Upcycle/Recycle clubs and Stitching after school clubs. The kids absolutely loved creating, they got so much out of it. It is so important for little ones to be able to gain a sense of achievement from activities that are not academically focussed.

Its my vision to inspire creativity in young minds and to develop an appreciation of workmanship and traditional skills encouraging a new generation of problem solvers and innovators to lead us into a better environmental and economic future.

Funky Makers social media links.

THE SUSTAINABLE 2020 CHRISTMAS IG LIVE Episode 6 for you to check

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