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. 

Our latest #CreativeNetwork - Crafts took place on Friday 14 January 2022. 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 on 23 February. If you'd like to take part in the workshop, in Coventry, please register for FREE here

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."

You can follow Ebony on Instagram - and find out more at Cultured Waist.

#CreativeNetworkCrafts 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.

Our next Zoom networking events will take place on:

  • Friday 11 February 2022, from 10am-11am - theme and guest to be confirmed.
  • Friday 11 March 2022, from 10am-11am - theme and guest to be confirmed.

In the meantime 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!

For more information contact [email protected]

#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.

On Friday 10 December we will be 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.

On Friday 12 November 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:

On Friday 22 October 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: 

On Friday 11 June 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.  

On Friday 16 April 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)

On Friday 8 February 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.

On Friday 8 January 2021 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.

On Friday 6 November 2020 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.

On Friday 2 October 2020 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.

On Friday 4 September 2020 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. 

On Friday 7 August 2020 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:

On Friday 3 July 2020 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:

On Friday 5 June 2020 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!