Ashfords Big Weave

The final event in the Spelthorne Making Surrey diary was the Ashford Carpark Challenge – 23rd-28th May..After a series of workshops in and around Ashford, the carpark became a focus for the project. We had discussed the idea of weaving, knitting and stitching the front of it, but when we calculated its surface area we realised just how big a job it was…!

Luckily we had the helping hands of Ashford community members who came along to a series of workshops held from the multistory carpark. Pupils from Thomas Knyvett College also lent a helping hand to decorate the 70metre lengths of fabric needed to weave the front.

Teaming up with local community, Ashford Pride, was fantastic and alot of hard work from everyone went into the big weave…Which began at 3pm  Sat 26th, and finished at 2am on Sunday 27th…At one point the lights in the carpark switched off automatically, and so the final hours of the weaving were managed under car headlight…

All in all, it was a massive feat..See the links below for the mini film we made to document the weave as it crept across the front of the building!

On Monday 28th, it was time for the Carpark celebration..We had the new Mayor of the borough come along to open the newly decorated space and even Busbee, Ashford Prides mascot, came along on his harley Davidson Motorbike to say hello…See the second film below, which captured the evenings events.

The evening included a series of performances from Ashford Choir, workshops run by residents of Ashford, A film projection along the carpark wall so that all could enjoy the process behind the project, food, drinks, games..And much more..

At this point I want to say a huge thankyou for everyone who was involved with the project…Nicole Line, Ashford Pride, Ashford community members, Ashford Library, The pupils of Thomas Knyvett College, Members of Fordbridge Day Centre and everyone who was so supportive of this project!


Ashford Knitters – at Fordbridge Day Centre

Richard Jones, Arts Officer for Spelthorne Borough Council, has told us of about Ashford Knitting Group that meet once a week at Fordbridge Day Centre. We are extremely keen to work with them on the project and headed down to meet the ladies last Tuesday. We were welcomed by Dinkie their group leader along with Queenie and the rest of the knitters to talk about the project. Nicole brought along her giant knitting needles and we discussed the idea of knitting graffiti for Ashford High street.


Extreme Knitting at Thomas Knyvett College –

The Yarn was prepped and ready to go for our first sessions with the Yr 7 Pupils at Thomas Knyvett College….Workng with two class groups over the course of a few sessions the students created their own knitting graffiti colourful cosies to adorn Ashford High Street.

Group one were knitting with plastic bags and group two with electrical wiring.

Here are a few snaps from the sessions.

The groups were working at quite different scales. You can see below some of the work in progress.

We look forwards to featuring the pieces down the high street over the coming weeks.









Yarn prep

A lot of time and care is taken in preparing the yarn for extreme knitting…We thought we’d take you through the process…

To date we have knitted with mulitcoloured dust sheets, plastic carrier bags, Bin Liners and Electrical cable.

Dust sheets –

Most of the knitted cosies that will be created by Ashford community over the coming weeks are going to be featured outside. It is therefore important that we use a yarn which is water resistant.

Dust sheets and recycled carrier bags prove to be a reliable option whilst putting unwanted materials to a creative use..

The dust sheets, because of their sheer size, are a two man job..They must be carefully folded, cut into strips and then tied together like bed sheets. We wanted a mulitcoloured yarn and so twisted three colours together, before winding the yarn onto the giant reel.

Carrier bags were available in their abundance from Sainsburys and Tescos in Farnham and Guildford. This involved diving into a giant skip at these supermarkets to retrieve them then stuffing the car with as many as possible.…A Small car packed to the brim with plastic bags and electrical wiring was quite a site driving back home.

The bags are a little easier to manage compared to the dust sheets and can be a one or two man job to prep. We have been prepping this yarn for students of Thomas Knyvett College and so needed many bundles of yarn. Team work got the job done.

































Electrical Wiring –

At £2 a kilo, electrical wiring is a great yarn for knitting outside as it is water resistant and comes in fantastic bright colours. Many a trip to the Car and Scrap Metal Recyclers in Aldershot proved to be fruitful. Donned in our snazzy flourescent high visibility jackets, Nicole and I braved the mountains of electrical wire….Yanking out some amazing colours to work with.

A few kilos later, we loaded up the car again, and ventured back to Farnham to sort into colours…

















Encounter Culture at Thomas Knyvett College

Our first Making Surrey session this year in Spelthorne was at Thomas Knyvett College at their Encounter Culture event. Organised by Daniel Bernstein and the Yr 8 students of the creative secondary college, an array of events and activities were scheduled throughout the day. Including street dancing, graffiti art, Upcycling and Extreme Knitting which myself and Nicole Line our new apprentice for Making Surrey ran.

The day was a great opportunity to introduce Extreme Knitting to a wider audience, to meet members of Ashford community and to talk and share ideas about the project. We were met with great enthusiasm and many a conversation took place over a cup of tea and some stitching.

Nicole, a keen knitter, is currently studying to complete her degree in Textiles. From neighbouring Kingston, she is interested in recycling existing objects and materials to turn into yarn for knitting. Materials that she has knitted with so far include..bin liners, dust sheets, giant rubber bands – 1m in length, electrical cable. She has also started knitting groups at club nights, which involve knitting with fluorescent yarn!

During Encounter Culture we met with many a keen knitter who were amazed at the size of the needles Nicole was knitting with, 2m in length!



Carols on the Green

On Friday 16th Dec, Making Surrey Stoughton formed part of the Christmas celebration Carols on the Green…This was the idea of Jan and Paul Cook who are legends when it comes to creating events…Jan and Paul have been fantastic in supporting the Making Surrey shop in running workshops and even putting up our Making Surrey shop sign! It is also worth mentioning that Jan makes amazing cakes which were greatly appreciated in the meetings leading up to this event!

The evening was held on New Cross Green where the Making Surrey Stoughton launch was first held in August..It was great to see the project start and finish(ish) in the same place, which is so central to the community…

We kicked off the evening with the lantern procession from Stoughton Massive, which was complimented by all of the knitted cosies that had been made by Stoughton residents to decorate the space. This was followed by a selection of Christmas carols and dance performances by local community groups including Emmanuel Church band, The Brownies, Scouts, and Guides.

Refreshments were hosted in Stoughton Methodist Church which consisted of a the most butterfly cakes and colourful cupcakes I have ever seen! As well as a lots of tea and hot drinks!

The Making Surrey project also featured a display of workshops to date which was kindly put together by our project apprentice Jay Kale. Jay is a budding photographer that has worked upon the latter stages of the project to document the varying workshops that have taken place! The display which also featured picture postcards by Northmead Junior School (in addition to the lanterns and knitted cosies) was a fantastic way of communicating to the Stoughton community all of the hard work and creativity that has gone into the Making Surrey project to date. Almost 300 people attended this event braving the poor weather…and a grand total of £255 was raised for Surrey Air Ambulance!!

We will be back in the new year for more updates on Making Surrey in Stoughton….

Knitting with wire

As part of our Christmas Celebration, and in addition to our lantern procession with Stoughton Massive, it was decided that we would decorate the space for the Carols on the Green event which we linked the project with on 16th Dec….by knitting snug cosies for bollards and trees within the area.

Residents of Stoughton braved the electrical wiring to knit colourful covers for the street furniture which have been featured over the Christmas period..

Rachel Holbrook, apprentice for the project, ran sessions in this which was a larger scale extension of our knitting with wire session with Maureen Bell..

The knitted bollards and tree were a focal point for the celebration with Christmas lights and lanterns to add…

Post it…

Out of pure coincidence, Stoughton Infants School yr2 were running a history project during the Autumn term, looking at 100yrs of Stoughton. They had had a Victorian day of dressing up and doing childhood activities of the period including stitching samplers and handwriting practice onto chalk boards…The children said that they didn’t like how strict it was! To develop some stitching skills, further Making Surrey linked with this project to create some picture postcards..

We ran similar workshops with Northmead Junior School yr3 and Claremont care home also…The outcome of each project being an array of hand crafted, personalized, textile picture postcards.

The fronts of these postcards consisted of a variety of Textiles techniques from fabric painting, to Heat Transfer and stitch processes to mimic the techniques used historically. Each of the images featured on the post cards fronts was from Stoughton past or present. On the backs of the postcards each individual wrote a message about Stoughton, and what it meant to live in Stoughton – or what they enjoyed doing there…

These postcards are to be posted across Stoughton in the New Year to each other…With Claremont care home receiving postcards from Northmead Junior School and vice versa…

Stoughton Infants School will be sending their postcards to their link School in West Africa, crossing continents with the project!

Picture Postcards a go go

The history of Stoughton is quite visible within the community, as there are many unique buildings due to the presence of the Stoughton Barracks which used to house the Queens Regiment.. David Rose a Guildford Historian (who is local to the area) with his vast collection of picture postcards and knowledge of Stoughton has informed much of the project…A visit to his house being like stepping back in time…

Davids images were featured at our launch event to illustrate Stoughton then and now, and how much things had changed. The majority of the old images were taken from his ginormous collection of Picture Postcards..

What I learned from David is that Picture Postcards formed a valuable means of communication 100yrs ago and not only documented a place visually – which is why they are so collectable to communicate local history today – but also were a means of communicating messages to friends and family about where you lived and general notes on how people were keeping..As we would send text message with images attached today, in the past a postcard would be sent…With the post running a few times a day, it would be possible to send a card in the morning to someone the other side of Guildford, and for it to be received that very afternoon.

The postcards that David showed to me were very beautiful and used a variety of manufacturing and hand crafted techniques – some were embroidered into silk, some were black and white with hand painted tints to add colour, some were commemorative. They really struck a chord with me, especially the notes featured on the back…David even mentioned that there were secret codes to postcards, for example, the way a stamp was stuck signifying different things like ‘I love you’ or ‘I cant wait to see you…’

I decided that it would be great to resurrect the picture post card and the techniques used to create them in the focused workshops that we ran with School and elders groups…..

Lantern Making with Stoughton Massive!

To date the Making Surrey project in Stoughton has featured a variety of Crafts techniques in Textiles, Metals and Ceramics which have been delivered by a number of creative people within the community. Another exciting part of the project has been to make lanterns with Stoughton Massive Youth Group.

This process consisted of three stages…The first being the block printing and stenciling of surfaces to cover the lantern structures, the second being the construction of the lanterns (led by a local carnival collective) and the third being our lantern procession which took place at the Carols on the Green event on Friday the 16th Dec.

It was really great to be able to showcase the hard work that Stoughton Massive had put in. The lanterns looked fantastic, especially once lit and were a great opening to the event – We will feature more information on this later..

The workshops with Stoughton Massive are part of an additional cluster of focused sessions that we have run with groups within Stoughton, including Stoughton Infants and Northmead Junior Schools, as well as Claremont residential home.