Meet our teachers: Annie Windley, crochet
We’re so excited to have crochet classes back in our line-up! Our new crochet teacher is Annie Windley. Annie has taught craft skills to both children and adults alike. For many years she was a journalist, working on women’s weekly magazines, writing features as well as checking all the knitting and crochet patterns before publication. She also helped at the company’s knitting and crochet sessions, where many fellow journalists learned the delights of working with wool. Now Annie is spending her time designing, selling hand-made items, teaching one-to-one sessions in and around Crouch End, and writing about crochet and knitting on her website, pickingupstitches.com.
We are so happy to welcome Annie to our team of teachers with her super fun Crochet classes!
Q. Describe your style in 5 words
A. Colourful, quirky, fun, eclectic, accessible.
Q. When did you first fall in love with crochet?
A. When my grandmother taught me to both knit and crochet at the age of about 6. I loved the fact that crochet grew so quickly, and I was soon busy making things for my dolls – both knitted and crocheted. And, growing up in the 70s, crochet was THE craft of the moment. I remember making a poncho when I was around 12, the biggest garment I’d crocheted, in the fashionable colours of chocolate and cream. I loved it!
Q. I believe you made the move to teaching crochet and other yarn crafts full time recently. This is brilliant! What made you decide to go for it?
A. Although I was a journalist on music magazines and women’s magazines for over 30 years, I originally trained as a teacher. I’ve never had the urge to return to teaching in schools, but I’ve always taught friends and colleagues knitting and crochet when they asked and really enjoy sharing my skills. Craft has always been my main hobby outside of work along with music (I also run a monthly folky music afternoon called SoftlySoftly in Crouch End, where I sometimes sell my crochet creations, too). While working, I never seemed to have enough spare time to devote to designing and creating. As a stroke of luck, I was offered voluntary redundancy last autumn and jumped at the chance to make knitting and crochet my full time occupation (though it still seems like a hobby to me!). I can now design to my heart’s content, make things to sell, and write on my website (pickingupstitches.com) so my journalistic skills are still coming in useful. And, of course, I can now teach so many more people the delights of working with yarn.
Q. Crochet is such a versatile craft. What kinds of things do you like to stitch?
A. I love little intricate pieces, but I also adore combining colours and experimenting. At the moment, my bunting creations seem to be going down well – especially my carrots and peas bunting, which seems very popular with parents for the nursery. They’re probably keen to encourage their children to eat their greens from an early age! I’ve always got some sort of big project on the go, too – currently it’s a floral granny-square blanket. And I’m designing some cute amigurumi dolls too, who will feature in a children’s book that I’m writing.
A. Granny squares are so versatile, but so easy to learn how to make, even for complete beginners. So I’ll be teaching the students all about the basic granny square and crochet techniques, showing them how to form the stitches required, and how to read a pattern and chart. By the end of the lesson, everyone will have completed a square to take home with them – the start, I hope, of a whole new hobby.
Q. Do you have a favourite type of yarn to work with? Why is it your favourite?
A. I can’t say I have an actual favourite yarn, as it really depends on the individual project, but some I do favour are merino blends, which are so smooth and soft and easy to crochet with. Plus bright cotton yarns, which create a lovely, even texture. And I’ve recently been creating giant crochet squares with Hoooked tee-shirt tape, which was fun to use.
Q. What one item in your craft kit could you not live without?
Well, for knitting, my row counter is a godsend! But, after my sets of knitting needles and crochet hooks, the one item I particularly love is my pair of stork embroidery scissors, which are always in my crochet bag.