Facilitator Kara Richards with some of her crochet.

Fancy a go at crochet for exciting community blanket project?

The facilitator of a new craft project in Athlone Family Resource Centre (AFRC) bidding to create a community wellness blanket from crochet says she's “overwhelmed” by the interest since it launched.

Although people cannot sit together, the message from Kara Richards is that everyone can still work remotely as part of a team to make beautiful things while stuck at home.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned crochet artist, the project would love your help, be it just one square, a flower or as many squares as you like.

When asked how the project came about, Kara, who is better known locally as a musician, explained: “So I've done crochet for years and I was wearing something I made one day when I was in the centre (AFRC) and Brona suggested that we do a blanket. She was looking for projects that involved the community but obviously, that's really difficult at this time, when people can't get out and about. This one can be done at home so we went for it.”

Rolling wool for the venture as she spoke, Kara is brimming with enthusiasm for the initiative which already has almost 100 members on a dedicated private members' Facebook page, just days after it started.

“It's going really well, more and more people getting involved but there is plenty of room for more. We are putting together starter kits for anyone who hasn't tried crochet before. You can get one through the Facebook page or by emailing storytellers2020@gmail.com.”

A fan of crochet for many years now, Kara joked that she started when breastfeeding. “You can't knit and breastfeed but you can crochet. Then I made the poor little buggers wear what I'd made”.

For beginners, is it something you can pick up? Well, yes, according to Kara. “If you can hold a crochet hook you can do it. It is one of those things that's mind-boggling until you realise how simple it really is.”

A piece of crochet Kara made from odds and ends in her wool basket.

With some beautiful pieces coming in, the project has already generated a lot of laughs and banter on the Facebook page, where everyone is helping each other with materials and any problems they encounter. Tutorials have been uploaded on the page to walk complete beginners through the process.

“It's really relaxing, you can do it anytime. At one point last night, I was crocheting and watching Breaking Bad,” Kara laughed. “Once you get your head around it, you actually do it without thinking.”

Kara stressed you don't need to be on Facebook to be a part of the blanket effort – anyone can get their printed pamphlet and get crocheting.

“I'm overwhelmed with the reach of it so far, it's just great. Lots of people would love to crochet a blanket but on your own, it would take a long time but because everyone is putting pieces together it is so much better,” added Kara, who said the squares don't have to be perfect to be used and participants can be as creative and colourful as they like.

“It (the square) doesn't have to be brilliant. It can still be used. Have a go. It can be unusual,” she urged, saying squares should be sent in by the end of February. In the meantime, Kara is working on the design of the blanket which when complete will be displayed in Athlone Library when it is safe to do so and then auctioned to raise money for charity.

The innovative project is a Switch Off and Be Creative Action funded by Westmeath County Council's Community Resilience Fund.

For more information, join https://www.facebook.com/groups/communitywellnessblanket or get in touch with Athlone Family Resource Centre Community Wellness Blanket Project, Athlone Family Resource Centre, Unit 15 ACT Business Development Centre, Ball Alley Lane, Athlone or call the centre 085 251 2224.

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