Creative Lives teamed up with the Heritage Crafts in May 2020 to set up an online network to connect people working or volunteering in participatory crafts in all its forms across the UK & Ireland, with a particular emphasis on amateur and heritage crafts.

We co-host regular #CreativeNetwork - Crafts conversations (on Zoom), that each focus on a different theme and include a guest speaker.  We discuss issues and challenges, and find solutions. This inclusive craft community shares ideas, inspires and supports each other through the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond. 

#CreativeNetwork - Crafts is a supportive space to meet other people interested in crafts and share tips or resources.  These free regular Zoom networking events are open to anyone leading, organising or hosting participatory crafts activities and workshops.

The next #CreativeNetwork - Crafts Zoom Conversation will take place on Tuesday 21 February 2023 from 12noon to 1pm. Please join us to hear from Worcester-based textile artist, Oliver Bliss, who will share more about his practice.


#CreativeNetworkCrafts Archive

This is an archive of our previous themed Zoom conversations, with links, references and short video clips covering a wide range of subjects and themes.

12 December 2022Making the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Pageant Cart – volunteers working together

Bridgwater Carnival is the UK’s oldest carnival and one of the largest illuminated carnival processions in Europe, taking place every November in Somerset, but what often goes unnoticed are the phenomenal craft and engineering skills that go into constructing the ever-more elaborate carts, as rival carnival clubs try to out-do each other and win the coveted carnival cups... and all this driven by huge volunteer effort! But this year something unprecedented happened, as clubs put aside their rivalries to work together on a collaboration to build a cart to grace the route of the Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant!

Guest speaker: Chris Hocking, who played a key role in organising Bridgwater Carnival’s ‘Jubilation’ entry in Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant, seeing the project through from day one right up to, and including, the parade itself on 5 June.

Chris joined Bridgwater Carnival in 1967 to have a bit of fun - and he’s been having fun in carnival ever since! After a 10 year spell with Marketeers Carnival Club, Chris joined the organising committee in 1985 as Publicity Officer, a role he fulfilled for 19 years before he became the President of the Carnival in 2004. Chris has compared the annual Bridgwater Carnival Concerts for 18 years and now and on carnival day he becomes the voice of Bridgwater Carnival, providing the commentary for the live streaming of the event which is broadcast to an international audience through the wonders of modern technology. As one of the team of Directors of Bridgwater Carnival, Chris has the responsibility of developing new and exciting projects. He also organises the live entertainment programme for Carnival day as a prelude to the parade and squibbing.

Monday 10 October 2022: Libraries as hubs for community crafting

The session focused on how libraries are playing an important role in hosting and delivering craft activities for children and adults in local communities. We were joined by special guests: Sarah Baker, Tracie Meredith and Jennifer Collier.

Sarah Baker (Librarian at Inspire Culture, Learning and Libraries in Nottingham) discussed the role of crafting and creativity in Nottinghamshire libraries, focusing on the recent project 'Twiddlers!', Inspire's 6th annual knitting challenge, designed to support people across the county with Dementia. You can read more about Twiddlers! here.

The images below show: An example of a Twiddler, The exhibition of the Twiddlers created and donated by the public, currently on display at Worksop Library Gallery.


Tracie Meredith (Staffordshire County Council Library Arts Officer) and Jennifer Collier (Paper and Stitch Pioneer) talked about 'Crafting Communities' A project at Blythe Bridge Library in Staffordshire, where Jennifer worked collaboratively with local crafters, library visitors, community groups, library volunteers and the wider community to form a hub of experimental craft, where people of all levels of experience and ability had the opportunity to take part, contribute ideas, develop creative skills and try new techniques.

Tracie and Jennifer discussed the ways that crafting in Libraries could help to build community bonds, and talk about the work and resources developed as part of the residency, including a ‘Stitchionary’ – an A-Z guide of different stitches inspired by the project.

The images below show:

  • Artworks created during the Crafting Communities residency. For more info click here.
  • Jennifer Collier. Jennifer collects rarely used, heritage stitches and discovers how to translate the art of lost stitches onto paper, as these techniques are an important part of our creative heritage and she wants to continue to invest time in them to keep them in the present, offering them onto future generations. You can find out more about Jennifer's practice here.


You are also invited to join our #CreativeNetwork Crafts Facebook Group, where you can continue the conversation, share ideas, ask questions, post videos, inspire and be inspired!

For more information contact [email protected].

On Monday 8 August 2022: The Parliament Coronavirus Memorial Quilt Project and how crafting can benefit mental health & wellbeing

Our special guests are Dawn Butler MP and Naomi Clarke.Dawn Butler is the Labour MP for Brent Central, and has been an MP continuously since 7 May 2015, and she launched the The Parliamentary Coronavirus Memorial Quilt project in March 2021. You can follow Dawn on Twitter via @DawnButlerBrent

Naomi Clarke is the Parliament Coronavirus Memorial Quilt stitcher and has been sewing and crafting for 23 years in a variety of contexts (schools, in the community, online groups). Naomi is also an ESRC PhD student at the University of Bristol researching crafting during Coronavirus. You can see more of Naomi’s work through her craft-based Instagram @naomialicec and on Twitter @naomia_creative

The Parliamentary Coronavirus Memorial Quilt project invited everyone who works in and for Parliament, in any role, to make a 6" patchwork square to represent that individual person and their experiences of this time. These patchwork blocks are then being pieced together to to create a lasting textile memorial of the Pandemic that represents the multitude of experiences within Parliament whilst also demonstrating unity through a single quilt which will be on display within Parliament.

There are currently over 84 blocks from 70 MPs, The Speaker, one from the House of Lords and two staff members. Stitched into these patchwork blocks are the everyday stories of the Pandemic experienced by individuals within Parliament: family members who sadly died, the Black Lives Matter movement, the mixture of emotions surrounding childbirth during lockdown, zoom calls with grandchildren to celebrate events, teaching elderly parents to use digital technology from a distance, celebrating key workers and a Scrubbery set up to stitch scrubs for NHS staff.

With stories of love, of loss, of hope, of sorrow and of care, this quilt is a truly remarkable textile memorial of the Pandemic.

Dawn and Naomi will tell us about their experiences of working on the Parliamentary Coronavirus Memorial Quilt project and why crafting can benefit mental health and wellbeing in troubling times.

You can see the quilt's progression by following @parliquilt on Twitterand Instagram.

You are also invited to join our #CreativeNetwork Crafts Facebook Group, where you can continue the conversation, share ideas, ask questions, post videos, inspire and be inspired!

#CreativeNetwork - Crafts is a supportive space to meet other people interested in crafts and share tips or resources.

These free regular Zoom networking events are open to anyone leading, organising or hosting participatory crafts activities and workshops.

You are also invited to join our #CreativeNetworkCrafts Facebook Group, where you can continue the conversation, share ideas, ask questions, post videos, inspire and be inspired!

Monday 13 June 2022: How crafting can bring a community together

Our guests were artist and maker Naz Syed who joined us to tell us about her experience of working with Coffee 'n Laughs on the Lost Connections project to capture stories through lockdown by creating a community quilt. The quilt fuses together art, textiles and poetry with a hand of friendship motif to reflect participants experiences, emotions and connections.

Each piece of 'hand' textile art was created by members at home, with doorstep deliveries and workshops by Naz.  These were brought together and hand stitched by our other guest Marilyn Priday to create the final quilt.

Marilyn joined the conversation to give her perspective as a participant in this project, and to discuss how crafting has bought her community together.

Coffee n' Laughs is a charity and friendship group for women of all ages, faiths and cultures. The group run regular workshops and trips with the community.  A weekly friendship group in a multicultural and diverse area of Newport, Coffee n' Laughs supports participants experiencing isolation and depression with positive creative activities including textiles, embroidery, and hand-bound books.

The age range is wide ranging, from 16 to 76 and is run by volunteers. The cultural heritage of participants are Bangladeshi, Pakistani, White Welsh, African, Somalian, Iranian, Eastern European and Chinese. Coffee n’ Laughs is a lifeline for members who have suffered difficult lives, and it tackles isolation problems and depression by participating weekly and engaging in creative activities.

You can find out more about the Lost Connections project here

You can also follow Naz on her socials via @ZibaCreativeUK and @lostconnectionsart on instagram and @ZibaCreativeUK on Facebook and Twitter.
You can find out more and follow Coffee n' Laughs on Facebook.

Friday 11 March 2022: Theo Wright - Weaving by Numbers

We heard from our special guest is Theo Wright, who is a weaver and textile designer based in Coventry.

Theo's talk, entitled Weaving by Numbers, looked at the relationship between his technology background and the craft of weaving, including examples of his recent work.

Originally trained as a computer scientist, he worked in software development and technology research. In the late 1990s he developed an interest in textiles while travelling in the Middle East and Asia, and learned the basics of weaving on his return. His interest grew and he eventually studied for a BA in Textile Design at University College Falmouth, graduating in 2011.

He started a one-man business, making handwoven scarves that explore pattern, contrast and colour. Following participation in the Crafts Council’s Hothouse programme in 2014 he also started making collections of larger wall-mounted textile artworks, typically based on ideas in mathematics and science, with support from Arts Council England.

You can follow Theo on social media via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Friday 11 February 2022: Hanny Newton: Goldwork Embroidery & Her contemporary practice 

We heard about plans for The Making of Coventry project that's taking place in the city in February and March 2022.  Our special guest was Hanny Newton, a metal thread embroiderer who follows her own personal response to the traditional art form of Goldwork. Hanny told us about the history of Goldwork, a type of embroidery that uses gold, silver and copper thread. She also gave us an overview of the Goldwork Embroidery Workshop that she would be running in collaboration with Coventry Men's Shed as part of The Making of Coventry project.

Since studying at the Royal School of Needlework (2011 – 2013) Hanny has been interested in the inherent qualities of different metal threads – the way threads interact with light, and the subtle differences in movement and memory. She works with metal threads from the UK’s last remaining metal thread manufacturers, who spin metal threads using methods that have barely changed for centuries.

Hanny creates from her studio in Shropshire, working on her own pieces and with interior designers and art consultancies to apply her contemporary approach to metal thread work to larger scale projects for hotel and private residencies around the globe. She has taught her contemporary approach to Goldwork internationally, including the The British Museum, London, Westdean College UK, and the Australian Design Centre, Sydney.

You can follow Hanny on her socials:
Instagram @hannyembroidery
and Facebook @HannyEmbroidery

Friday 14 January 2022: Ebony Ademola and the history of Waist beads and her contemporary take on this African tradition

We shared more details about plans for The Making of Coventry project. Plus our special guest, Ebony Ademola, the creator of Cultured Waist, talked about waist beads and the community workshop that she will be running as part of The Making of Coventry project. 

Ebony explains: "Waist beads are an African originated accessory which can be used as a form of expression. They have many different meanings and uses across Africa and it’s hard to pinpoint where they originated from, but the beauty lies in their individuality to each woman. The meaning of a woman’s waist beads is completely decided by her – she has control and power over how she feels about herself.

"Our Waist Bead workshops encourage open discussion about confidence, self-love, body positivity – what loving your body looks like and how do waist beads contribute."

Friday 10 December 2021: Rachel New and The Making of Coventry Project

We heard from special guest Rachel New, the Creative Lives On Air Producer at BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire and also from Daniel Carpenter, Heritage Crafts Operations Director about our new collaborative programme called The Making of Coventry. This will take the form of a series of community craft workshops and on-air coverage of heritage and contemporary crafts in Coventry and will culminate in a conference taking place in Coventry on Saturday 26 March 2022, and is funded by Coventry City Council.

Friday 12 November 2021: Jane Cobbett and the history of patchwork and quilt making and how she is keeping this practice alive in Coventry

We discussed how heritage crafts can connect us with the past with our special guest Jane Cobbett, who is a quilt maker, textiles tutor and collector of vintage patchwork, based in Coventry in the West Midlands. 

Jane gave a short presentation and led a discussion about the history and origins of some heritage quilts that make up part of her collection, and we also discussed how the history and stories behind these pieces connects us with our past.

You will be able to catch up on Jane Cobbett's presentation here:

Friday 22 October 2021: Alli Tillcock and Bristol Stitchers

We met Alli Tillcock, Secretary of Bristol Stitchers who is also a keen crafter, maker, designer and creator, and a retired secondary school teacher, who you can follow on Instagram theemptyoxobox.

Alli gave us an overview of the background behind Bristol Stitchers, she outlined the projects and activities that took place during the lockdowns and more importantly gave us an overview of what's currently happening now that workshops and activities are starting back up in real life.

You can catch up on the full conversation here: 

Friday 11 June 2021: Saffron Darby, the Bristol Textiles Quarter and the Meet, Make, Mend sessions  
We met Saffron Darby from the Bristol Textile Quarter and heard about her Meet Make Mend project. We also discussed sustainable textiles and learnt about Bristol Cloth and the South West Fibreshed

Saffron Darby is the Studio Manager at Bristol Textile Quarter, but previously worked for many years as a clothes designer, including 10 years as Senior Designer for Toast. She is passionate about sustainable textiles and often discusses the issues, challenges and solutions during her regular Make Meet Mend sessions.  

Friday 16 April 2021: Rose Sinclair, Can crafts such as textiles bring communities together to discuss 'knotty issues'?

The theme was 'Can crafts such as textiles bring communities together to discuss 'knotty issues'?' With our guest speaker Rose Sinclair, a Design Lecturer (Textiles) at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is involved in teaching textiles, fashion and design related practice up to Postgraduate level. 

Rose, who recently featured on BBC Four’s Craftivism: Making a Difference (February 2021), researches the Dorcas Clubs brought over to the UK by Caribbean communities. Dorcas Societies were originally set up to provide clothing to the poor, and teach women sewing and craft skills, but have also operated as a go-between for public health and education campaigns.

We discussed whether this model could be used today to provide information and support through a common interest in crafts and textiles and whether there are similarities with the current Craftivism movement. Rose also talked about the work she has been doing in collaboration with the Broadway Theatre in Catford during the pandemic.

Rose's design work has developed in area of civics, social and public engagement for which she has been awarded 'The Wardens Special Award for Community Engagement 2019 and The Wardens Special Award for Civic Engagement (2020).

Rose Sinclair: Short Video Clips, Book References, Resources, Links & Information

View a short Facebook video clip of Rose Sinclair talking about Writing inclusive histories of craft and  Sharing weaving stories during our recent #CreativeNetworkCrafts conversation.

Due to technical issues we are unable to share the complete video footage of Rose's presentation from this conversation, however you can download Rose Sinclair's Dorcas Clubs presentation as a pdf here instead.

Follow Rose on Twitter: @dorcasstories

Goldsmiths Staff Profile
The power of cloth - an interview with Rose Sinclair
Goldsmiths Design Blog: RoseSinclairs' Caribbean Front Room Installation 
BBC's Craftivism Making a Difference 2021

Rose Sinclairs' Books references:

A Vindication of the rights of women by Mary Wollenstencraft:
Motherland: West Indian Women to Britain in the 1950’s by Elyse Dodgson
Small Island: Andrea Levy
Jamaican Women and The world wars on the front lines of change by Dalea Bean
Textiles Community and Controversy: The Knitting Map by Jools Gilson and Nicola Moffat
Craftivism and Yarn Bombing. A Criminological Exploration by Alyce McGovern
Queering the Subversive Stitch by Joseph McBrinn
The Subversive Stitch by Rosika Parker
Bell Hooks : Belonging, a Culture of place
Women and Needlework in Britain, 1920-1970: PhD: Royal Holloway University of London by Elizabeth Robinson:
A very easy Death: Simone De Beauvoir

Rose Sinclairs' Craft/textiles communities/resources:

Conflict Textiles
Threads of unity
Stitching together network 
A museum for me
BIPOC in Fiber
Fashion and Race database 

Rose Sinclairs' Magazine & Newspaper Articles:

Rise of the Sew Bro: Why Men Have been Crafting Their own Clothes over lockdown - Esquire 8th Aug 2020

When I tell people they might laugh, George Clooney and the men who sew - The Guardian by Priya Elan, 4th Feb 2021 

It was seen as an elderly white lady thing to do: meet the new generation of male knitters - The Guardian by Colin Crummy, 10th Apr 2021 

Rose Sinclairs' Dorcas  (Tabitha): Stained Windows (some examples):

Dorcas is often portrayed as a  virtue ‘charity’ either with cloth or handing out food OR being raised from the dead, or surrounded by children.

St Andrews Sadberge
Bradford Cathedral
Cornish Stained Glass
Church of All Saints
Mary Magdalene Church South Molton (window 3)

Friday 8 February 2021: Microblogging & Social Media with Elena Kanagy-Loux

The theme was 'Microblogging & Social Media with Elena Kanagy-Loux'. We heard about Elena's background, how she set up the Brooklyn Lace Guild and how she has been promoting her heritage craft on TikTok (@erenanaomi 327k followers) and Instagram (@erenanaomi 43k followers), and we discussed how you could use these platforms to raise awareness about your craft. Scroll down for more information about Elena and her work.

You can view film clips from this session below:

You can follow Elena on Instagram: @erenanaomi @brooklynlaceguild @metrattitextilecenter and on TikTok: @erenanaomi.

Friday 8 January 2021: Daniel Carpenter & Sally Reay discuss 'Available Support & Advice'
The theme was 'Available Support & Advice.' We heard from Daniel Carpenter, Operations Officer at Heritage Crafts Association and Sally Reay, South West Development Officer at Creative Lives who outlined the support and advice that their organisations provide.  We also discussed the types of support participants want from national support organisations.

Friday 6 November 2020: Keeping a craft group together through thick & thin
The theme for the discussion was 'Keeping a craft group together through thick & thin''.  Our two special guests were Fee Barton, from the Art Club aka 'The Coven' & Kerry Russell, from Creativity Works' My Time My Space (MTMS) - an Art + wellbeing programme for Mums suffering from postnatal depression. 

They talked about how their groups have developed over the years and how they have coped and adapted through lockdown and beyond.

Friday 2 October 2020: Cass Baron and Turning your craft hobby into a business

The theme for discussion was 'Turning your craft hobby into a business.' We were joined by two inspiring speakers who recently turned their passion into a business: Cass Barron from Bookbinding with Cass and Molly Plummer from The Mimo Yarn Company.  

Our final guest was Sally Reay, Creative Lives South West Development Officer and Bristol Creatives Business Advisor and Mentor, who answered questions and provided tips and advice about how to set-up a creative business.

Friday 4 September 2020: Kate Dewmartin and Can online teaching ever replace real world teaching?

The theme for discussion was 'Can online teaching ever replace real world teaching?' We were joined by Kate Dewmartin from Craft Courses, an online platform that offers a choice of thousands of arts, crafts and wellbeing workshops, classes and courses both in person and online.  Alongside Sally Evans, Artisan and Educator at Craft Workshops, who creates and delivers online and in person classes and courses and one of her regular customers Sharon Stagg who who has taken part in both online and real life courses.

An open discussion took place in a breakout session and we reflected on what works and what doesn't. 

Friday 7 August 2020: Sarah Corbett discusses Craftivism 

The theme for discussion was 'Craftivism', when we were joined by Sarah Corbett, author, award-winning activist and founder of the global Craftivist Collective who talked about how activism can also be slow, quiet, small and compassionate AND make real positive change in our world.

We also heard from artist, poet and researcher Julia Davis Nosko who demonstrated and ran an optional activity whilst telling us about a craftivist project she worked on in Routsi, Arcadia in Greece, where she was able to combine her love of making clay forms (practice) with deep involvement in making a more sustainable, kinder world (activism). 

You can view some short film clips from this session:

Friday 3 July 2020: Sue Garden discusses the work of the APPG and lead a discussion on how the grassroots crafts community can speak to government

We heard from Baroness Sue Garden of Frognal, the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Craft (APPG) and Patricia Lovett, who is the secretary of the APPG and Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association who introduced 'the work of the APPG and lead a discussion on how the grassroots crafts community can speak to government'.

We also heard from Lucy McGrath from Marmor Paperie about her experience as a craftsperson speaking at the APPG and from Gareth Coles, Director of Creative Lives Wales, who outlined some of the work that Creative Lives does to support the crafts sector, which includes advocacy, partnership working and research.

You can view some short film clips from this session:

Friday 5 June 2020: how to keep making during the challenges of COVID, how craft contributes to our wellbeing, and how amateur and professional craftpeople are keeping endangered craft skills alive in these trying times
The topics discussed included 'how to keep making during the challenges of COVID, how craft contributes to our wellbeing, and how amateur and professional craftpeople are keeping endangered craft skills alive in these trying times'.

Co-hosted by Sally Reay, Creative Lives South West Development Officer and Daniel Carpenter, Heritage Crafts Association who were joined by upholsterer and business mentor Carla Costa, green woodworker Steve Tomlin and HCA Endangered Crafts Officer and knitting enthusiast Mary Lewis.

To suggest a theme for future conversations, or for other comments and questions, contact [email protected].

Craft Resources

Craft Business Resources
Craft Funding
Red List of Endangered Crafts

Craft Support Organisations

You can find other useful umbrella bodies on our listings page.

These online events are part of Creative Lives' regular #CreativeNetwork - a daily online get-together open to anyone involved in arts, culture and creativity who would welcome the opportunity to talk to others about dealing with the current situation, the challenges of working from home and what we can do together to make positive changes in difficult circumstances.  To find out more visit

Everyone is welcome!