Do you like to make things? I do. I link my interest back to my love of the make-and-do items in the BBC Picture Book series, the Enid Blyton Nature Lover’s Books and of course Blue Peter.
I recall reading with great enthusiasm Enid Blyton’s account of the life cycle of a silk worm and was desperate to have silkworms and make my own silk! The opportunity seemed to have arrived when we moved into our current house and there, in the garden, was a mulberry tree. I was soon to be disappointed however as I learned I had a black mulberry, and that the more nutritious white mulberry leaves were silkworms’ preferred food.
Apparently, many made this mistake and planted the black mulberry, including Denman College that had two gnarled, recumbent old gentlemen in the walled garden.
Acquiring new skills was a key motivation for me to join the WI and I have not been disappointed! Have you signed up for the forthcoming Craft Day? It’s not too late and you may learn a new skill. [See Page 6]
‘Crafting’ is a bit of a derogatory term I feel. I prefer the word ‘creativity’. Do you include creative meetings in your WI programme? We do. There are so many benefits of crafting together. It’s a wonderful social activity, a good way to make new friends, improves your mental health, fine-tunes your motor skills and is believed to beneficially stimulate the right hemisphere of your brain.
I am a member of a patchwork group. We meet at the local canal centre. The group comprises ten women of diverse age and background. The only thing we share in common, apart from our wish to sew, is that each walked down the towpath one day, spotted a quilt in the window, went inside and were hooked.
The things I have benefitted from most are friendships made and the sharing of skills. This has been immensely valuable to me. It also makes an excellent recruitment ground for the WI. Three of the group are coming along to our next WI meeting.
The WI has featured creative projects in recent years as a tool for campaigning. An object shared can often promote discussion in a way words on their own cannot.
Introducing our campaigning work to members and non-members alike through a memorable hand-made artefact can really provoke and promote engagement.
Have you made and sent a ‘Show the Love’ green heart to your MP? Did you make a lavender sachet to donate to your GP’s surgery to promote the ‘5 Minutes that Matter’ campaign? Do you recall the arresting and thought-provoking bunting made by Surrey Vixens Virtual WI to highlight the number of women killed by men after the death of Sarah Everard in 2021? Have you made a climate change scarf or crafted a ‘Make a Match’ blood drop?  WI resolutions once adopted go on for ever so it’s not too late to revisit a past campaign with your WI members. Try a craft meeting focusing on a past or current resolution. Have a go. There are endless resources on my MyWI. If you haven’t set up your password, do it now, you will not regret it. The staff in the Federation office will help you. Inspire your WI to campaign through crafting and see what discussions and actions result.
February is the month to ‘Show the Love’ for your planet. It is your opportunity to share your love of our planet, to highlight the need for everyone to make real changes to the way we live and to share this message as widely as possible.
Last year I made a string of green hearts and fastened it to a nearby fence. I watched from my window. People stopped, looked at the hearts and read the accompanying posters. It certainly raised the issue in their minds and was a very practical, cheap and unexpectedly successful activity.
I like to challenge myself when doing patchwork. I don’t like to waste fabric. A large quilt made, offcuts from the flying geese turned into a rainbow quilt, the leftovers from that became a crazy quilt table runner, the final remains face coverings.
You might like a different sort of challenge. Did you go along to the Edenbridge and Oxted Show last year? What a wonderful couple of days they were. I loved the piglets. Could I have smuggled one home? I think my husband might have noticed as the garden was uprooted. Perhaps next time!
The star of the show for me, however, was the awesome display of competition items in the WI tent. The range of skills on show was unbelievable. What a challenge for the judges. I even entered a couple of items myself. What astounded me was the range, level and quality of all the entries.
Here is a challenge for you. The 2023 Edenbridge and Oxted show schedule will be with you soon. Why not demonstrate your creativity by entering an item or encouraging your WI to submit a collaborative entry? I will enjoy seeing the fruits of your endeavours. Good luck!

Carol A. Gartrell
Federation Chairman

  • The Edenbridge and Oxted two-day Show is held over the August Bank Holiday weekend at the Ardenrun Showground, Tandridge Lane, Lingfield, RH7 6LL.

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