A stitch in time for busy Jilly

Just Regional
Jul 16, 2020 3 mins read

When former Aylsham High School teacher Jilly Willis retired, she needed something to keep her busy. The self-confessed workaholic had been head of hospitality and catering at the school, so cookery was an obvious choice.

Her cakes, biscuits and desserts proved very popular attractions at Aylsham’s Country Market for five years, but Jilly soon looked for new pastures and she turned her love of textiles and crafting into not-for-profit enterprise Hooked on Stitching.

From occasional workshops and social get-togethers over craft projects, Hooked on Stitching soon increased from a couple each week to five a week. Social get-togethers included lunch on the Broads, and a visit to Urban Clay in Aylsham. Occasionally a specialist was invited to run a craft workshop, for example lampshade-making, and these proved very popular.

One problem remained: the venue. Moving around to different hired venues several times a week was proving difficult. By this time, Jilly was stocking wool, needles, numerous patterns, and books to create the right environment for creativity. About this time, she heard that space was to become available at the Pavilion, on Aylsham recreation ground, and she jumped at the chance. Her group was happy to follow her and the Pavilion quickly became a special place for many people.

And then came the pandemic.

Like so many others, Jilly had to shut up shop and stop the weekly meetings, although she was still able to stay in touch with some of “her ladies” via Zoom. Now with time on her hands, she started making scrubs for the NHS and crocheted hearts and Hero Bears for members of the community who continued with their jobs serving the public.

Jilly with some of the wool she uses for the groups and making scrubs during the covid-19 pandemic.

All these projects were done for free, but some recipients kindly gave a donation, raising more than £100 for Aylsham Covid-19 Support Group.

To meet the overheads, Jilly also started making face masks to sell. Available in three sizes and in a variety of colours and designs, ranging from “subdued to riotous”, they have proved extremely popular. The income from this, plus continued sales of wool, have generated enough to ensure that the enterprise will continue once all the restrictions are lifted.

Reflecting on the past six months, Jilly said: “No one could have realised what we were to go through, and I have to admit it’s not been easy. But on the positive side, working as a volunteer making scrubs at the Pavilion has raised awareness of Hooked on Stitching and I have had many encouraging chats with the passing public – albeit at a safe distance.

“The other ladies in the group, and indeed members of the public, have been wonderful with their support and I’m looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality soon.”

If you would like to find out more about Hooked on Stitching, contact Jilly by email at jilly.hookedonstitching@gmail.com or there is a Facebook page – just look for Hooked on Stitching Aylsham.

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