Chirpy in Chapel Allerton has a quirky little frontage, unprepossessing and yet intriguing. It’s a place packed with art and crafts, unique pieces to surprise and – the reason I was here – a first floor workshop.
There are more artefacts on the first floor, too. Owner Jo aims to showcase the work of local artists and those beyond, in the North West, ensuring that what’s on offer at Chirpy is an affordable and unusual range of art and craft items.
I had turned up for arm knitting, a Christmas gift which at the time of receiving I had been, I admit, a little unsure. I can’t knit, so surely arm knitting would be beyond my field of competence. After a very happy, therapeutic 2.5 hours in the company of 7 other classmates, I can tell you that I am delighted to have been wrong.
Arm knitting is just one of the popular workshops on offer at Chirpy. Local tutors also run classes on embroidery, macrame, knitting, creative writing, felt craft and paint and weave. In the run-up to Christmas, there are fabric wreath and Christmas decoration workshops, too. You can find out more about these at chirpystore.co.uk or visit Jo’s Facebook page @Chirpy
Each member of the class had chosen their preferred colour of wool before the day, with which to make a throw, and the huge balls of wool were waiting for us when we arrived. They’re an impressive size (well, they would be, wouldn’t they, to make a throw!)
Our tutor was Miriam (Mizz of Mizzknits), who fortunately was very patient with every one of us. She started us off by showing us how to cast on, then helped if anyone made a mistake or was unsure. It was all so calm and relaxing! I have a job which entails a lot of travel and a lot of dealing with urgent situations and I find I tend to keep up that momentum in my domestic life, so it was an eye-opener to realise that I had relaxed for the entire 2.5 hours, at the end of which, I’d actually produced a throw.
Jo, our host at Chirpy, was on hand to check that everyone was happy and plied us with drinks (not the alcoholic kind, which may have led to quite different results!). It did cross my mind that I might struggle to visit the ladies with my knitting on my arm, but I didn’t have to try it out.
I’m already planning my next arm knitting, having chosen my colour and with the encouragement of my husband, who loves the result of my efforts. When she gave me the arm knitting gift card, my mother-in-law had in mind my involvement with Girlguiding and thought I could use my new-found expertise (!) with the Brownies or the Guides. I may need to practise some more first, perhaps watch a few YouTube videos to gain more confidence.
Chirpy has a great atmosphere for learning. Jo is very warm and welcoming and Mizz an excellent, reassuring instructor, so I’ll be attending another of her classes, no doubt. It was such a relaxing experience, and here is the outcome:
Feature photograph by Mark Wheelwright.
P.S. Someone else likes this throw!