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Sri Lanka-born Jana tells the story of how the women of the Stitch! community helped him fulfil his dream of learning to crochet.

jana shows off a sock during a session at stitch in palmers greenAs a member of the Stitch! community, I want to say a few words about what it means to me to be part it.

My name is Jana, a 72-year-old British man. I was born in Sri Lanka, where I learnt to knit from my mum when I was about 12 years old. The first garment my mum taught me to knit was a cabled vest and to date I have carefully saved it to remind me of the first experience in knitting a garment for myself. I have knitted odd garments over the years for my friends and myself.

During the pandemic lockdown, to while away my time I started knitting voraciously. A friend wanted two jumpers knitted and I ageed to do it for him. I designed both of them and knitted them. My friend was so elated to receive them.

I was yearning to learn crochet. My mum was going to teach me, but before she did she passed away suddenly. After the lockdown was over I Googled to see if there were any classes near me. I came across Stitch! in Palmers Green - based at that time at the post office. They were conducting a beginners course in crochet. I was so happy that I could finally learn to crochet! I applied online and secured a place in the evening class which was to be conducted by Sharon.

On the day of the lesson I went to Palmers Green to attend my first class. When I entered I noticed those who were present were all women. One lady said “Sorry sir, the post office is closed and you will have to come tomorrow morning”. I explained that I had come for the crochet class. Then the lady apologised and welcomed me to the class. My class conducted by Sharon was absolutely great. That day I fulfilled my ambition of learning to crochet.

During the lesson I also learnt that a social group meetings were held on Tuesday mornings - “Knit and Natter” - and Wednesdays evenings - “Stitch and Knit Social”. I asked whether I could join the social groups to enhance my knitting and crochet techniques, and was welcomed in.

At the time I had learnt only to knit scarfs, sweaters and jumpers, I was literally scared of knitting shawls, socks and other items. Sharon conducted classes in how to knit shawls, blocking, granny squares, crochet techniques and Tunisian crochet. I not only joined these classes to learn them, I also joined classes conducted by Alison on various other advanced techniques - knitting socks, lace, double knitting, fairisle, cables, colour etc.

I also learnt tatting from classes conducted by Kay. I was also able to join a painting class and also crafting classes at Stitch! Thus learning various handcrafts and new techniques that has expanded my artistic knowledge widely. I am sure I will learn even more in the weekly classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The ladies who come regularly on those days have accepted me as part of their groups and share their wide knowledge with me as I do with them.

It's heartwarming to say that Alison and Sharon are mostly present at these classes and help with any difficulty or problem in either knitting or crochet that anybody has. The ladies who attend the classes are so friendly and welcoming and share their projects and knowledge. I am definitely looking forward to following more classes to learn more techniques in knitting and crochet.

Susanne and Liz are ever present on all these social classes and always there to guide one to join which and what class to join.

I am ever so grateful to all at Stitch! for welcoming me in their social community and being part of the ever expanding crafting world that it caters for.

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