ARMED with a knitting needles, glue and scissors, a group of women head to the Doffcocker Inn.

They climb the ancient staircase of the huge pub and slip into a function room off the main corridor.

They lay out cloth, yarn and colourful beads — as well as an impressive spread of cakes.
One by one, women of all ages take a seat to start their own creations. These women are the Craftettes.

Formed in March by Jennie Davies and Michelle Fitton, the group has sparked something of a craft renaissance in Bolton — both online and at the Doffcocker Inn.

Jennie and Michelle knew each other through working at Bolton Council but it was not until they spotted each other in a Facebook group they realised they had a shared passion for arts and crafts.

They went for a coffee and decided to start a craft group to suit the needs of modern women.
Michelle, aged 33, from Moses Gate, said: “We wanted to form a group for like minded women who want to share their passion for crafting.

“There’s loads of Facebook groups and blogs all geared around crafting but there’s not very many groups where you get to meet up in person.

“Also, craft groups that do exist tend to meet up in the afternoon, which is no good for women who work.

“We found that a lot of our crafters have to do things at night after work or when the kids have gone to bed. It was more like lone crafting.

“When we got chatting to women online we realised that there all these people with the most amazing flare and skill that no one knows about.”

The pair looked at different venues and decided the Doffcocker Inn was perfect for their group.

Michelle, who now works for Bolton at Home, added: “It has a lovely homely feel here and the landlady was so accommodating. The pub’s a great place for the community and we wanted to support that.”

The fortnightly group has proven to be a huge success for craft beginners, meaning they had to recruit another chief Craftette Jaye Garner to help organise the sessions.

The Craftettes alternate between demonstration sessions and open craft where they work on their own projects.

Upholstery, knitting, crocheting and jewellery making are just a few of the skills they bring to the table.

So what has sparked this craft revolution?

Social networking sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook have helped sew the huge web of craft lovers, according to Jennie.

The 38-year-old from Smithills, said: “The great thing about the internet is that you can get inspiration from Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

“You can learn new things by watching YouTube videos. Our Facebook group was the thing that brought the Craftettes all together.”

Michelle said the popularity of “shabby-chic” home decor has also fuelled the craft craze.

“Shabby-chic is absolutely massive and crafting is the perfect way to create that look. I make all sorts of things for my home,” added Michelle.

“I think what our ladies love about crafting is that it’s an escape from your normal life.

“It’s relaxing yet manages to take your mind of everything else. It’s amazing to see how some of our ladies have grown in confidence.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than learning something new and creating something. We just love it.”

On the evening I paid the group a visit, they were being shown how to make their own jewellery by fellow Craftette Marlene Murphy.

Marlene, aged 52, from Breightmet, said: “We’ve been making bracelets tonight and I think everyone surprised themselves.

“I’ve been making jewellery for 15 years and I’m something of a magpie. It’s amazing to see what you can create. A lot of the women tonight were very good because they already have the creative flare.”

Lesley Mattinson, aged 58, added: “I’ve always been quite a crafty person. I find it very calming. It stretches your ability and gives you the chance to express yourself.

“Even if you don’t know anything about crafting, you can turn up here and just have a go.

“I think there are more groups like this one forming. You’re mixing and socialising as well as creating something.”

Sarah Dunn, aged 31, from Lostock, said: “I love crafting. I’ve also found it’s helped with my anxiety. I’ve found very calming and relaxing. We’ve all become friends at this group.”
The Craftettes are also raising money for the Christie.

For more information, search for the Craftettes on Facebook.