Gayle heads to Sew Confident in Broughty Ferry where she arm-knits a chunky blanket.
Sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting… I’ve always considered myself to be useless at all kinds of needlework.
I’m mature enough, however, to realise that there is a lot fun to be had crafting, and that there are some exceptionally enthusiastic and inspiring tutors out there keen to show me the way.
I find one in the shape of Sandra Cassidy who runs Sew Confident in Broughty Ferry – a brilliant place to sew, de-stress and make friends!
“The focus in our classes is on socialising, having a bit of fun and chilling out,” she says.
“Sometimes beginners or those who haven’t tried crafting for decades worry they’ll be rubbish, but there’s really no need to feel like that! Nobody’s judging you at Sew Confident. We’re here to help and make sure you have a great experience!”
First up, she shows me a gorgeous quilted stocking, and I can well imagine hanging one above my fire.
“You only need very basic sewing skills to make this and don’t worry if you’ve never quilted before,” she says.
There’s also a fab rag wreath class for people like me who are scared of sewing machines.
The focus in our classes is on socialising, having a bit of fun and chilling out.”
You can bring along your own fabrics or be eco-friendly and recycle an old duvet cover, clothing or scraps of fabric.
You’ll then measure, cut and put together your very own wreath.
“It’s a really sustainable way of making a wreath you can re-use year after year, “ says Sandra. “And it’s so easy. You simply tie bits of fabric onto a wire frame and make knots. The results are striking!”
As time is of the essence, Sandra suggests she takes me through one of her popular arm-knitting classes.
“It should only take a couple of hours!” she smiles.
“The class is aimed at beginner knitters and arm knitters alike! You’ll learn the basics of knitting and you’ll create a super-luxurious chunky blanket to take home with you!”
I had absolutely no clue what arm-knitting was but, as the name suggests, it’s a case of knitting with your arms rather than needles!
The first challenge was deciding what colour to go for. A gorgeous cream or dove grey blanket would be classy and a wee bit hygge, but I decide on red.
Handing me a 2kg ball of acrylic wool, Sandra talks me through the process, but it takes a wee while to get the hang of things.
I’m all fingers, thumbs and forearms and suffer from a total lack of co-ordination initially but after 10 or so minutes, I pretty much crack it (with Sandra’s help and encouragement!).
“It’s all about transferring stitches between your arms,” she explains. “You cast stitches onto one arm and move your hands palm to palm to transfer stitches from one arm to the other.”
I won’t get too technical here – you really need to just do it to understand – but if I can do it, anyone can!
I’m amazed by how quickly my lovely woollen blanket comes together (it took just over an hour!), and it’s just so gorgeous.
It’s been an absolute godsend throughout this first chunk of winter; I’ve spent a lot of time cuddled up in it.
Classes galore run at Sew Confident year round and they’re open to everyone.
Sandra, who studied illustration at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, opened the studio in Broughty Ferry in 2018 and since then has helped more than 1,000 people learn to sew.
“I’ve always loved doing crafty things and started sewing when my wee boy was little,” she says.
“It’s great to see so many people enjoying sewing and other forms of crafting and really nice when people come along, meet others, and then make friends. It’s a really great social scene.
“I do think some people didn’t enjoy home economics classes at school and maybe didn’t have the best experience, but we want to do the opposite of that here. It doesn’t matter how good you are at sewing; it’s all about de-stressing and enjoying the social side of things.
“It doesn’t matter if you can’t sew in a straight line; as long as it holds two bits of fabric together! And if it doesn’t, we’re here to help!”
As well as classes galore to choose from, including dress-making, backpack and dungaree workshops, crocheting hats and dedicated kids’ sessions, Sew Confident tutors are happy to work with people to lay on bespoke one-to-one classes.
And tea and biscuits will always be on offer.
- For details of classes, see sewconfident.co.uk/dundee-classes/