Welcome to the Cookery & Creative Crafts News: with details of recent courses, upcoming courses and crafty, foodie news!

May 2022 Update

We were so pleased to welcome members to WI Centre for the Vintage Cupcake Workshop and the Beginner’s Dressmaking course.

Our own Fed Essex Great British Sewing Bees!!

Sadly, due to insufficient numbers, we have had to cancel the Dabble day. This is so disappointing for all those who had booked to attend, the tutors and the organisers. The C&CC committee work hard to organise these events and offer them at the lowest price, which makes it sad and disheartening when we must cancel them. We appreciate that many members are still anxious about Covid, but we would like to assure you that the necessary steps are taken at WI Centre to ensure that all correct procedures are being followed. We would love to see you at future events.

The workshops for the rest of the year, listed on the events section of this webpage, include Gold work, Tote bag, Patchwork cushion, Santa door stop, Poppy brooch, Christmas cards, and, we are still in the process of sourcing other craft activities. We are also hoping to organise a coach to Alexandra Palace, in October, for the Knitting and Stitching show, – so keep an eye out for that on social media and in Essex WI News.

So, what news from the committee members of C&CC?

Angela Flynn who was the tutor for the Vintage Cupcake workshop writes of her experience:

This was my first course as a tutor at the WI centre although I have done some privately and at other clubs I belong to.  It took a lot of organising making the cupcakes and buttercream the day before, getting all the equipment together and buying various things needed for the course.

I could see from the start that there was a very wide skill set within the students.  From a lady that had never done any cake decoration to quite a few who had built up their skills during lockdown baking for the neighbours.  I was a bit worried when I heard the lady who hadn’t done any decoration say, “I don’t think this class is really for beginners”.

Nevertheless, I ploughed on, they practiced piping royal icing, they made the decorations, covered the cupcakes, and finally placed the decorations on the cakes finishing them off with delicate dots and lines of royal icing.  All the results were amazing, everyone’s cupcakes looked brilliant and the lady who had questioned the course level for beginners was very pleased with her results.

I was delighted with the results of the day and pleased that it had been such a success. The students asked if they could have a Christmas flower themed cupcake course.”

If you think you would like to do a workshop like this do let us know.

Paulette Brabin has been extremely busy making handbags and is now wondering what to do with all her beautiful creations.  The C&CC committee think that Paulette should be selling them, we hope you agree.

Gill Hathaway writes;

“Once the weather starts to warm up, my crafting slows down a little!  However, over the last few weeks I’ve been making sunflower brooches in Ukraine colours for sale at our community café to raise funds for DEC and finished a “Winnie” – hopefully to be joined by a few friends before too long”

Lesley Evans has been working on a project that perhaps we could offer as a workshop, again we would welcome your comments as we think these two little fellas are so cute!!

When writing the previous update I said I was embroidering a handbag and I promised it would be finished to show you. Well, it is now finished, under pressure, having committed to you all, and I am very pleased with it. I must thank Paulette who helped me turn a piece of crewel work embroidery into the handbag whilst keeping me entertained with lots of chat and cups of tea. The joy of crafting together cannot be underestimated as a tonic for the soul.  Now to consider my next project!!


I do hope everyone enjoys the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and I am sure that all our talented WI members will be crafting many items for this event. Do send us in your photos and we will include them in the next web page. 

C&CC will have a stall at the County Annual Meeting in Colchester so we are looking forward to talking to many of you there and hearing your crafting, cooking and gardening stories.

A final plea please do book for one of our workshops at www.ticketsource.co.uk/FEWI and support the hard work of the Committee whilst learning and/or developing a new skill.

Kind regards,

Fiona – Chair of C&CC

March 2022 Update

Although we have just experienced several big storms, Spring is on the horizon and the CCC committee are eagerly anticipating the brighter days and welcoming you to our workshops at WI centre.

All our planned workshops are listed in the Events section of this website and tickets can be booked on Ticketsource. There is a reduced price for early bird tickets, so another reason to get those bookings in.  The CCC committee have worked very hard to ensure that the workshops for the year are inclusive for all our members, so please support us.  as it is so disappointing to have to cancel due to insufficient numbers.

The first workshop at WI Centre is being run by Angela Flynn, one of our CCC members and a professional patisserie chef.  Now is your opportunity to learn to decorate cupcakes like a pro and come home with your creations to wow your family and fellow WI members. This is taking place on Tuesday April 5th and everything you need will be supplied. I am sure that after this workshop you will be able to make this Mother’s Day bouquet of cupcakes to give to the mother in your life.

For those of us who watch the Great British Sewing bee and marvel at the skills and techniques of the contestants, Susan Sparrow will be tutoring a Beginner’s Dressmaking Course on Thursday 28th April.  You do need to be familiar with the basic functions of your sewing machine, but the day has been planned to give you the skills to get sewing and tailoring your own individual couture.

Following on from our last Dabble day we are hosting another day in WI centre on Friday May 13th. This day will involve you in two crafts, making Dorset buttons and fabric flowers and a demonstration of Scone making. A soup and cake lunch is included in the price of the day.

In preparation for the Platinum Jubilee Weekend a floral workshop led by Sue Horne, Chelsea flower arranger winner, is to be held on Tuesday May 31st. All the materials for floral arrangements will be supplied and you will leave with two floral creations for your own Platinum Celebrations.

The workshops for the rest of the year include Goldwork, a tote bag, patchwork cushion, a Santa door stop, a poppy brooch, Christmas cards and we are still in the process of sourcing other craft activities. We are also hoping to organise a coach to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexander Palace in October so keep an eye out on social media and Essex News.

For those members whose passion is gardening our CCC gardening expert Hazel Ridgewell, writes:-

“I ache in every limb this afternoon, having spent the morning weeding and cutting off the old leaves from the hellebores, you can see the flowers so much better and saves disease being passed to the new leaves as they grow.  It’s a good time to start pruning roses and the lovely, coloured Cornus which provides so much colour in the winter, cutting them right down makes sure that they get nice new wood for next winter.  Snowdrops are beautiful now but when the flowers die back you can increase the numbers by lifting and splitting any large groups by gently loosening a few bulbs at a time and planting elsewhere and then putting those left back where they came from and by planting any bulbs that have been forced out of the ground.  It’s also a good thing to give a good feed to any flowering plants to enable them to put on a good display later”

The daffodils, snowdrops and hellebores in my garden are giving me a lot of pleasure and a few years ago I made this cushion using silk ribbon to bring these flowers inside. At the moment, using crewel wool and silks I am embroidering a handbag, from a pattern in Inspirations Magazine that I bought many years ago (I’m sure it is not only me that has projects bought to do and projects to be finished!!).  It is so therapeutic sewing in the warmth whilst watching the daffodils dance in the breeze.  As soon as I am finished, I will post a picture, but I would also love to see some pictures of your craft projects.  I know WI members are a talented group of women who produce fantastic craft work. So, ladies send me your pictures with a brief description of your craft project, and we will share it on our web site.

Also, for Ladies who knit/crochet we have an excellent selection of donated wool for sale in the shop at WI Centre in addition to our usual merchandise, so do pop along there are great bargains to be had.

The next web page will be up in May by which time Summer will be here, ever hopeful, and we will have welcomed many of you to WI centre.

Kind regards,

Fiona – Chair of C&CC

December 2021 Update

So another year has flown by and although we have been restricted by Covid restrictions the C&CC committee have worked hard to organise virtual events, and laterally in house workshops,  and I would like to thank them all for their hard work and enthusiasm over the past year.

We have planned a series of exciting and innovative workshops for next year, details in events.  I do sincerely hope that these will be supported. It is very disheartening for all the committee and disappointing for those who have booked if we have to cancel events so book early and rest assured that the workshops are run in compliance with government regulations.

To get you in the Christmas spirit why not make some gingerbread reindeer? Recommended by Angela Flynn.

175gms Plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground ginger
50gms margarine
90gms of light or dark brown sugar
1tbs syrup
1 egg beaten

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate and ginger.
Rub in marg.
Mix in sugar.
Add syrup and 1/2 of the egg.
Knead well and leave for 2 hours in the fridge.
Cut out shapes add red nose and sultana eyes bake for 7-8 mins at 170 degrees.
Decorate with thick icing made with icing sugar and water, piped thinly for antlers, mouth, ears and eyebrows.
Leave icing to set for a couple of hours.
Keep in a tin, lasts for a week.

In the spirit of practising what we preach regarding enrolling on workshops Julie, Fiona and Lesley share their creative endeavours with you.

If you would like to make your own personalised Christmas cards why not to replicate these charming stitched Christmas cards as made by Julie:-

“These cards were made following a ‘Denman at Home’ tutorial with Claire Salmon. Great fun to do and very effective! Bonda web is used to trace over the individual tree shapes (segmented triangle), then each is cut out with a margin, applied to the back of fabric scraps, ironed over to fuse and then cut round more precisely. The backing paper is peeled away from the Bonda web and the shapes are arranged on a piece of calico/fabric which has been backed by iron on Vilene to give strength. The shapes are then ironed to fuse and stitched around with zig zag or straight stitch to give definition. The gnomes have four shapes, body, hat, nose and beard. The body shape is cut with a domed top and the other pieces are arranged on top. Any shape can be used to create a card or picture using this method and it is a brilliant way of using all those scrap bag bits! The only thing to be aware of is the Bonda web and Vilene. Make sure the rough side is facing the fabric (shiny side for Vilene) or you will ruin your iron!!”

I, Fiona, also did a “Denman at home” tutorial with Claire on a floral theme when she demonstrated making a fabric Floral wreath.

Poinsettia flowers and leaves were made using fabric with felt backings, and the flowers and leaves finished with top stitching and beads. I thought that these would make delightful presents and ended up making five, and as I progressed taking more liberties with the fabrics, stitching and beading!! I was very pleased with the end results and do hope that the recipients will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.

Lesley attended an in person workshop and writes:-

Hello ladies today I joined a workshop making a small little Gnome . We all had a great time giving him his own little character and personality.

The ladies name is Tabatha Mitchel-Simons . Her email address is www.tabatha-art.co.uk and you can email her for information about getting the Kit .  A lovely little project for you to do for Christmas.

Witham WI, which our website editor, Clare, is a member of, had fun with Tabitha during their November meeting and Clare took home several gnomes to finish for other members so she ended up with a whole family of gnomes!

Don’t forget to log onto MyWI and follow the link to the crafts section to get inspiration for projects to do for Christmas and perhaps something to do in the holidays.

If you have not tried a virtual talk or workshop why not make it your New Year Resolution to have a go. We have the talented Christine Pearce demonstrating 3 of her lovely Christmas floral arrangements, on 11th December, which gives you plenty of time to replicate in time for your celebrations.  You can book here.

On 12th January, sees the return of Jane Cobbett with her second talk for us – this time she will concentrate on the fascinating history of patchwork quilts from 1600’s to 1970’s– the methods and fabrics used as well as the social history. You can book  here.

Please do send us pictures of your crafting, gardening and cooking so that we can share them with Fed Essex members through this webpage.

May I take this opportunity on behalf of the Cookery and Creative crafts committee to wish all members a peaceful, happy and healthy festive season and to say that we look forward to welcoming  you to our future workshops in 2022.

Kind regards,

Fiona Chair of C&CC


October Update

It has been lovely to welcome members back to WI centre for the workshops in Gingham Embroidery and Splash and Stitch. Look out for the write ups in Essex News. Unfortunately, due to lack of numbers we have had to cancel one workshop and this is so disappointing but if the workshop does not cover costs we cannot run it. So please do look at the workshops on offer in Essex News and in the events section of the webpage, and do join us learning new skills with professional tutors and your fellow WI members.

Your CCC committee are in the process of organising workshops and events for 2022 and we would welcome your suggestions and ideas regarding classes you would like us to organise. Additionally, if you know of any good craft, cookery or gardening tutors please let us know and we can approach them about running a workshop for us.

It is always great to hear from members about their crafting, gardening and cooking journeys so again please send me in your stories. Thank you to Maggie for her story which follows:-

“Pandemic stories —- my introduction to sewing”

I met Fiona on the Gingham embroidery course at WI centre – she spotted my sewing companion and asked me about, and then asked me to describe my sewing journey, so here goes!  

2020 was due to be a busy year for me, I was looking forward to going to Venice, a prize I’d won, and to Oberammergau to the Passion play , not to mention a big birthday, the one that ends in an 0, and a mystery holiday to celebrate,  which seemed to have the promise of sunshine and animals  and posh safari tents

Until March 2020 when everything changed …….

So lockdown then – I caught up with cross stitch and embroidery projects, made the inevitable Banana cake, and tried a different cake recipe every week. Rooms were painted, and the garden was weed less.

Hand sewing became more important to me, I had taken up cross stitch 20 years ago, and had attended a couple of courses at the WI centre with Pam Jermy, trying to develop embroidery skills. I had a hankering to try patchwork and quilting.  So when all dreams of a safari disappeared (see above), my partner Stuart asked me what I would like as a gift, “ a sewing machine please “ I heard myself say and so Brenda the Britannia T65 came into my life.

I must at this point say that the last time I had dealings with a sewing machine was first year senior school, when I failed to complete the domestic science apron, and was happy to see the back of the machine.

So me, Brenda and her instruction book set to it, no classes, no instruction, we managed to learn the basic stitches, how to sew a straight line, use zigzag  stitch.  Then came Denman on line and the beginners Quilt-as-you-go .  This opened up a whole new world and I was beginning to see the potential that Brenda could unleash.

Back to my sewing companion, it came as a kit, designed by Lynette Anderson, a Brit who now operates out of Australia.  Her work is characterised by a combination of hand sewing, patchwork and quilting, her designs often include a hand painted button,  in this case a gnome. The materials feature pastel colours and ditsy prints.

It took me a while to make – some of the threads are not easily sourced in UK so I had try and match up with cottons I had. The different interfacing used proved a puzzle for a while, but I got there in the end.

My “companion” has been my companion to a session at the Quilt show in Birmingham, an introduction to Gold work course, the Gingham embroidery course and no doubt to the Splash & Stitch course at the WI centre soon .

Maggie Piper  Downham WI

We do hope to see you all at WI centre in the very near future and please do send your musings, ideas, pictures and stories to me.

Kind regards and looking forward to welcoming you to a CCC workshop at WI centre very soon.

Fiona – Chair of CCC

July Update

Summer is here and I am sure you are all looking forward to spending time outdoors. Gardening has long been recognised as being good for the soul and whether you have a large garden, an allotment, patio containers, window boxes or house plants the joy of watching plants grown and thrive brings such happiness.

Hazel Ridgwell, who is a very keen and knowledgeable gardener, kindly shares her thoughts below.

“Since March of last year we have had a rollercoaster of alternative periods of drought and high temperature or intense rain and cold, with cold and rain throughout January and February and summer temperature in March leading many spring flowering shrubs to flower and grow new leaves which were then devastated by the frosts of April. Most of these plants struggle to recover and can be helped by a tonic treatment with seaweed solution, this also helps any plant of any kind with yellowing leaves. Early flowering subjects such as Camellias, Hellebores, Which Hazels, Azaleas, etc. should have a feed now to ensure a good flowering next year, all these especially Which Hazels should be kept moist at this time of year to help subvert their determination to die! This should be done for at least two or three years when such danger passes.

The easiest way to make a garden look good at this time of year is to trim all grass edges neatly, and if time admits, weeding the first foot or so of the bed no matter what is going on further in fools the eye and earns brownie points. We are all keen to help wildlife but this does not mean having to grow nothing but meadow flowers, in fact these reach their peak in late spring and very early summer, but we can have flowers from spring through to late autumn by choosing those with easy access for insects to feed on and a feast for the eye for us. More can be done for wildlife by not using chemicals which destroy the tiny grubs and insects which are the start of the foodchain for all else. I sometimes think there should be more give and take between us, especially by the deer, and sometimes rabbits, which took all the new shoots on my roses whilst ignoring the feast of grass and weeds available!”

Hazel Ridgwell, Purleigh WI

It is always lovely to hear from our members, thank you to Nicky for her contribution:

“I wanted to share that I completed the Seven Day Pattern Challenge for Mental Health Awareness week that was posted on ‘Me Myself and WI’ last week.

Really enjoyed taking part in this each day. Although I enjoy crafting I would not class myself as someone who has ever been artistic with drawing or having much imagination for my own designs. I was however quite pleased with what I achieved. I did spend longer than the suggested 20-30 minutes though as I became quite immersed in it. I found it did take my mind off of what was going on around me for the time I was doing it which is probably why I enjoy crafting as well.”

Nicky Martin, Maldon Wycke WI

Following on from our Zoom talk on Knititation with James McIntosh, Moyra shares her experience:

“Let me tell you a story. I have recently had a hip replacement and due mainly to the cocktail of medication I was on and the after effects of the anesthetic I was having a lot of problems sleeping. Those of you who know me from Federation will know that I have spoken many times about my own struggle with depression and anxiety. This is usually controlled using a number of strategies that I have developed over the years so imagine my horror when I find my hip is fixed but my anxieties had returned and I seemed unable to focus on my tried and tested ways of living with it.

I had signed up for the Cookery & Creative Crafts Zoom talk ‘Knititation’ and I was having a real swither about doing it. Thankfully I did. The amazing James McIntosh and his partner Dr Thomas Ernst spoke about using the simple technique of knitting (or crochet) and the repetitive nature of those skills becomes a form of meditation in itself.

My strategies before had been crafting, reading, gardening or listening to music but it’s easy to drop one or all of them when you are becoming anxious, especially if dealing with a physical issue at the same time. James’s talk was

enough to get me started again and what a difference it has made. It is not a magic wand – it is hard work but for me, being a constant ‘counter’, it really helps.

If you missed this talk and would like to know more about it, James has written a book and there is a foreword by Thomas explaining how it works. “Knit and Nibble’ is available on their website knitnibble.com and also on many craft sites. I forgot to mention – James is a chef by trade and the book has some wonderful cake recipes in it. Now I have to work on my waistline!!”

Moyra Jackson, Elsenham WI

Our Zoom talks have covered a wide number of crafting subjects and it has been lovely to welcome not only Essex members but members from other WI’s to these events. At our “Before the Zip” talk we were joined by a visitor from Portland, Oregan and this is one of the benefits of these virtual events. Gill has organised all these virtual events and writes:

“Well it certainly feels like Summer has finally arrived and while I’m no gardener I love seeing the changes in season. This was captured beautifully in the ‘Four Seasons’ sampler I embroidered in a Pam Jermy class a few years ago and I am really looking forward to her “Splash and Stitch’ workshop in September. It will be lovely to be back in WI Centre. See the Events page for details https://essexwi.org.uk/event/splash-stitch-pam-jermy-wi-centre/”

And while workshops are beginning again, we will still be continuing with regular Zoom events and have some really special ones coming up throughout the year. These can all be booked through www.ticketsource.co.uk/fewi (no booking fee for booking online) or call 0333 666 3366 (Line open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, £1.80 fee per phone booking applies).

On July 22 the lovely Carole Rose of AlphaBake Cookery, Dunmow is sharing her passion for cooking with us at 7.30pm

At this event Carole, will tell us about herself, her business including how she moved it onto Zoom last year. She will be demonstrating how she delivers the classes to the children by making her delicious Raspberry Cream Tart, so you can pass this on. Of course you can cook-along too – it will be great fun and the recipe will be sent out to you following your booking.

On 12 August at 8pm, there is something for those of you who like sewing, patchwork, history and crafts – “Quilt Detective – The History and Mystery of Quilts”, a talk by Jane Cobbett who is a tutor and collector of vintage patchwork, with a passion for old textiles and the methods used to create unusual and beautiful pieces from the smallest Victorian Love Token to full size quilts.

Coming up in the Autumn there will be Decoupage with Hayley Dell, Furoshiki (the Japanese art of wrapping with scarves) with Saori Seward and a super cute Waggle Tails Hound applique with the talented Gary Mills. Keep an eye out for the dates and full details which will be published soon.”

Gill Hathaway, Elsenham WI

Our CCC committee members are all being inspired by nature’s blooms and colours. Paulette’s cushion is a composition of summer colours, flowers are adorning Angela’s cakes, and Fiona’s crewel work cushion is on a floral theme.

I do hope that we will soon be welcoming you back to WI centre for our workshops all details in Essex News and on the events section of the webpage. Please book early, insufficient numbers may mean cancellation of events and disappointment for us and you the members.

Enjoy the Summer and we would love to share your gardening, cooking and crafting activities on future webpages ; send them to me via Sarah our federation secretary, fedsec@essexwi.org.uk.

Kind regards to all

Fiona – Chair of CCC

May Musings

Take 2 from the Cookery and Creative Crafts Committee

A year on from my first ‘May Musings’, written in early April 2020, the true impact that this terrible pandemic would have on us all was unknown. What a year we have had. Loneliness, isolation, pain, fear, financial hardship, loss and profound sadness has taken its toll on so many. Now, with the vaccination roll out, there is a sense that things will be better as the months go by and we gradually pick up the pieces of what initially at least will be a very different life style.

For me, this last lockdown has been more of a trial and my motivation to do things is not what it was last year, that’s for sure!

However, for all the negatives, and there have been many, there are also the positives that this past year brought us. I have decided to focus on these.

First and foremost, lockdown gave us the time, space and opportunity to take stock of our lives, embark on new projects, do some DIY, learn new crafts, home bake (remember the initial shortage of flour!), garden (The RHS estimate around 3 million new people took up gardening throughout the nationwide lockdowns) and start many other things previously on the back burner. We also embraced the ‘make do and mend’ ethos until items we needed for projects became available. Due to the lack of traffic and aeroplanes we enjoyed the peace and quiet our gardens and outdoor spaces gave us, and we had the glorious summer weather as well.

 We have pulled together in so many ways supporting family, friends, neighbours and the wider community, including helping with shopping, collecting prescriptions, gardening and talking by phone with those unable to communicate in any other way. We got busy sewing face masks and then scrubs for the NHS and made other items when the need arose. Now many of us are helping at the vaccination Centres.

ZOOM, for me, has to be another big positive. I had never heard of this way of communicating before and it was a bit of a revelation!  Apart from connecting with family, friends and fellow WI members the ‘Denman at Home’ sessions have been wonderful and so varied. I have enjoyed plenty of them and continue to do so. In particular Claire Salmon’s Friday afternoon sewing sessions have been brilliant and I have learnt such a lot and made loads of things as a result. Baking with Alison Haigh was another highlight and again so many new skills have been honed as a result of watching her bake (see recipe below for scones). Seeing fellow members and friends on the screen has been lovely as well, admittedly not as good as face to face but better than nothing!

Our own Federation talks and demos arranged by Gill on behalf of our Cookery and Craft Committee have also been excellent and as a result I cascaded origami tulips on to my own WI members for a craft along session via zoom.

With the summer coming and our WIs meeting together again (fingers crossed) albeit outside to begin with, things are on the up and at the time of writing the ‘rule of six’ allows us to meet in person outside once again!

Our little craft group have plenty of items for our ‘show and tell’ when we meet for the first time this month. We have a date fixed and hope for a warm day!

There is no denying that the impact Covid and its consequences has had on all our lives will stay with us, but we have plenty to look forward to as well.

Julie Alen Sisted WI

As we meet in the garden and start afternoon teas, here is the recipe Julie mentioned above:-

Quick and Easy Scones

400g Self Raising Flour, 175ml Double cream, 175ml Lemonade (must be fresh and fizzy)

Preheat oven to 200 (fan) 220 C, gas7/8

Put flour in bowl, make well in centre and add the cream and lemonade. With a broad bladed knife or plastic dough mixer (not hands) bring the dough together. It should be a soft dough (you may need to add a touch more liquid). Turn out onto a floured surface, knead lightly (4 quarter turns should do it) and shape into a round, about 2cm thick. Cut into six wedges and space evenly apart on baking sheet. Glaze with egg. If you have a water spray bottle spray the scones with water and also spray well inside the oven when you put the scones in.  This creates steam which helps the rise. 15 or so minutes later you will have some super scones!

Another top tip – If cutting scone dough into rounds use a plain cutter, not fluted. You get a much better rise!


As we plan towards a return to meeting in person, CCC continues to bring virtual events into your home. In May our events are aligned with the NFWI new programme #MeMyselfandWI , which aims to encourage you to take time to look after your mental health and physical wellbeing.




On Monday 17 May at 8pm the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of James McIntosh and Dr Thomas A. Ernst FRCP, the authors of the award-winning book Knit and Nibble and founders of the art of ‘Knititation.’

James grew up on a farm in Northern Ireland, by 35 he was travelling the world as the Global Ambassador for AGA cookers (in fact he was the man who put the Aga into Denman College) and a presenter on China Food TV. Then he was diagnosed with a moderately severe depressive episode, unable to leave his flat, James taught himself to knit. Slowly one stitch at a time he was able to regain his health and, together with his partner Dr Thomas, researched knitting and wellness.  In this talk Dr Thomas, a Senior Consultant Physician will explain the science of mindfulness – how the unconscious brain works.  James will tell his story of overcoming adversity, the highs and lows, love and laughter and how he knit himself back together.


Then on Saturday 22nd May at 10am we have the lovely Rachel Lawson, co-founder with her sister of  ‘The Modern Crafter’, whose Punch Needle designs have featured in ‘Mollie Makes’.  When Rachel was on maternity leave she picked up her love of crafting again and after asking her sister Siobhan to design her something to create, she felt that these designs were too beautiful not to share and The Modern Crafter, their business selling DIY craft kits based on traditional crafts, punch needle and embroidery was born. Both are passionate about the wellness that comes from crafting and in this session Rachel will demonstrate punch needling using one of their kits, talk about the tools and materials and answer your questions.

She finds the technique of punch needle very meditative and once you try it, she hopes you’ll receive not only satisfaction from creating your own piece of textile art, but that it will be a craft that you’ll continue with for lots of lovely self-care. Rachel has also kindly offered a 10% discount  on her kits to those who attend. 

And in June, something a little different, a talk entitled ‘Before the Zip’.  This talk re-introduces the ‘invisible history’ of textiles from thread and weaving to the decoration and the clothes and fastenings of our ancestors in the near and far past.  Along the way we will get insight into the invisible makers and why thread and cloth has been so important to world history.  Join Towse Harrison on 10th June at 8pm to find out just how medieval man kept his hose up!!


These events are all available for just £5 each from www.ticketsource.co.uk/fewi  Hope to see you there!!

Gill Hathaway, Board trustee,  Elsenham WI

Our first workshop in currently being planned for September when we hope to offer Splash and Stitch with Pam Jermy on Wednesday 22nd and 29th 10.00- 1.00 details on the events page, but please be aware that government restrictions may necessitate postponement of events.








In the March webpage on mindfulness I told you about making a fusion quilt for Meghann and I can now show you the finished product. With the left over scraps of material I made a cushion, which was so satisfying as I do hate not using every bit of the material. The quilt is now in its new home in London, and I am about to start a new crewel work project, more details to follow. Needlecraft is my therapy and I am so looking forward to meeting Essex members to see what they have been crafting, in the meantime please send  pictures and a description of your crafting successes.


I do hope that you are enjoying the regular CCC web page musings, and we would love to hear your comments, you can email me directly on fionacatt@gmail.com , and please do share this web page amongst your WI members and friends.

Take care, stay safe, keep crafting, cooking and gardening and the CCC committee are looking forward to meeting you very soon.

Fiona – Chair of CCC

Mindful March

This month’s CCC webpage is titled is Mindful March and we hope you enjoy our musings!

The concept of mindfulness has been gaining in popularity over the past decade but what actually is mindfulness?

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”

(definition from web)

So when we are fully engrossed with a book, listening to a piece of music, kneading bread dough, painting a picture or sewing and our thoughts are centred on that action we are practising mindfulness. 

Craft has been recognised as a key way to engage with mindful behaviours that are beneficial for our mental health and can alleviate the symptoms of can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, loneliness and even dementia, according to research. The following quotes are  from the Craft council webpage on  4 Reasons Craft Is Good For Your Mental Health 

“Craft’s particular benefits for mental health are backed up by the results of the BBC Great British Creativity Test, published in 2019. Textile crafts such as embroidery, crocheting and knitting have the highest participation rates of all the arts – more than music and painting – according to the government’s Taking Part survey, which shows the potential impact that making could have. Another study showed that participating in sewing as a leisure activity contributed to psychological wellbeing through increasing pride and enjoyment, self-awareness, and ‘flow’ in younger women”

“The acts of bakingknitting, and gardening share characteristics that make them well-suited for self-care. These activities all help to improve mood and lower stress – the effort, multi-sensory engagement, repetitive actions and anticipation of satisfaction involved in making something are related to release of neurotransmitters that promote joy and well-being, while also reducing stress hormones.

The activities also have a meditative quality due to their repetition, but also require focus and attention, which can provide healthy distraction from other stresses. Along with their full engagement of the senses, these restorative practices can help us engage in mindfulness, keeping us in the present moment – which benefits our mental health by activating parts of the cortex involved with regulating emotions and dampening activity in the amygdala, which is implicated in processing negative emotions and fear.

 The cookery and creative committee have always recognised the therapeutic benefits of Essex Members crafting, cooking and gardening, either on their own or with fellow members. So ladies, we do hope that you are all still engaging in these pastimes and experiencing mindful behaviour and the benefits it brings.

For myself:-

I am a passionate needlewoman and gardener, and can honestly say that both help my anxiety and stress; by being so involved with the project my brain has not got time to think about anything external to the job in hand. Over the past few weeks I have finished a cushion embroidered in 1 strand of thread for my friend’s birthday; this was actually in December but due to restrictions we have not  met. The pattern came from a book of crewel work projects from the Inspirations Journals, but I adapted colours and stitches to fit in with threads I had at home and how adventurous I felt with complex stitching! I am very pleased with the finished cushion and the pleasure I have had sewing will I hope be matched by my friend’s response to the cushion. What do you think?

To ring the changes, and following an idea that came up in Pinterest, over the last few weeks I have been losing myself in making a fusion quilt for my daughter. The idea is to make quilted squares and then to blanket stich each one to make a foundation for a crochet border. Each day I take some time to complete a number of squares and this is my version of mindfulness, when I am totally absorbed in feeling the textures of the materials, counting the stitches, observing the pattern development and generally oblivious to everything going on around me.

I have now completed 81 squares and am now about to start crocheting them together to make the quilt which will be going with Meghann to her new flat in London.

The following is Julie’s reflection on mindfulness:-

“The theme for this month got me thinking! How do I personally interpret ‘mindfulness’ and something being ‘therapeutic’?

 Over the last few months whilst confined to being mostly indoors, crafting has been to the fore and I have enjoyed working away quietly, happily and yes, I think ‘mindfully’. It is easy to lose yourself when concentrating on something and for me crafting is also therapeutic. I am not a hand sewer but would question whether machine sewing is as therapeutic and mindful as quietly sitting and sewing with a needle and thread, but it does bring pleasure. Creative paper cutting art needs time, concentration and precision as does beading and card making, which I also enjoy. Knitting, crochet, the list is endless! In fact, the more I think about it, I reckon that anything on the craft front that you take time over, concentrate on, enjoy doing and find relaxing can be classed as being both mindful and therapeutic.

One of my recent projects was putting together this ‘curio’ cabinet. Many of the vintage sewing related items belonged to my late mum. I had great fun gathering the bits and pieces together and in doing so found it to be quite a poignant, nostalgic and therapeutic exercise. I spray painted the cabinet before filling it with the items previously tucked away in drawers and boxes and am thrilled with the finished result.

On the cookery front kneading dough is said to have the same effect, as it gets rid of any aggression you might feel the need to offload and the repetitive and slow nature of this process can have a calming effect.

I really enjoy days spent in the garden. Working and pottering about is definitely very therapeutic and certainly gives me a sense of wellbeing. Taking time to sit, quietly absorb and take in the things around me, be it a bird, an insect, a flower, a tree, a scent etc, is also a must now, ever since Monty Don first stressed the importance and pleasure to be found in sitting quietly and properly taking in your surroundings.

For those without a garden, I’m sure you will agree that a quiet walk looking at everything around you will also leave you with this same sense of calm and wellbeing.

I am no professional, but having written this piece it seems to me that any activity that is done slowly and mindfully could also be regarded as being therapeutic. I expect some would say that they find doing housework and ironing therapeutic. It certainly isn’t the case for me though!

Crafting together is also good therapy. Happy chatter and interaction whilst working does us the world of good. Certainly not a ‘mindful’ activity but really missed by so many of us. Fingers crossed that it won’t be too long before we can all meet up again”.

Julie Alen, Sisted WI

We would love to hear your stories on how craft, cookery and gardening have helped your mindfulness so please send them in to me via Federation office.

Stop Press

Due to Government guidelines and the uncertainty of restrictions being lifted our CCC programme of workshops and events at WI centre is subject to change so do keep an eye on the webpage and social media and Essex News.

Splash and Stitch has been postponed until Wednesday 22nd and Wednesday  29th September.

Advanced Tunisian Crochet has been postponed until Friday 1st October.

Ladies take care and stay safe and remember we would love to hear from you.

Kind regards,

Fiona – Chair of CCC

February Update

This month we are sharing feedback on the committee events hosted over the last few months. So welcome to Feedback February! We start with feedback on the virtual workshops.

Fine Cell Work

“Thanks for such an interesting talk last night. I too was fascinated in FCW after I saw the Wandsworth Quilt at the V and A and enjoyed Stitchers at Jermyn Street Theatre more recently. Thanks for organising the talks.”

Angela Kane, Wanstead WI

“So inspired by this excellent talk. I purchased some items to support the charity and have sent a thank you card to the stitcher. These are the items I purchased from their web page: –  finecellwork.co.uk

Jan Curtis, Bulphan WI and Fed Chair


“Delightful makes after joining tutor Leila Khasal on ‘Papercraft Make-Along’ workshop in January. Further applications from approach are endless. Our next meeting of the Brightlingsea WI Craft Group is a practical session where I will be sharing the method for members to try out online with me.”

Kerry Franklin, Brightlingsea WI

 Below are some of the papercraft exhibits from Kerry,  Julie Alen and Gill Hathaway:

Adventures In Lockdown

Crafting with Eilidh!!

As a Scot in exile, I am very lucky to live only 30 miles from one of my nieces and her two gorgeous kids (my greats) who I normally spend a great deal of time with. Not so in these difficult times.

I had the recent pleasure of attending a Paper Craft Workshop courtesy of Cookery & Creative Crafts in the current FEWI Presents . . . . series of Zoom Talks. The wonderful Leila Khasal showed a group of us how to make some lovely flowers and shapes out of various types of paper. During the workshop I realised my lovely great-niece Eilidh (aged 73/4) would love to make these.

I made up a pack containing everything she would need (except scissors) and posted it off to her – the joys of our Postal Service and a 7 year old receiving a big envelope with her name on it!!).

On a Sunday afternoon we (virtually) dragged Eilidh in from making a snowman (yes, it happened to be the first snow in London for ages) and with her mum at their end and myself and my daughter at our end in Elsenham, we had just the best time making paper hearts, tulips and drops. It was an hour for her mum to relax a bit from home schooling, and for me to just enjoy Eilidh’s company and chatter.

Crafting on Zoom together…

A few days later my niece sent me a photo – it was a lovely paper heart that Eilidh had made all on her own to give to her best friend.

Eilidh showing us her heart…

You just never know what our workshops will bring!


“Now we know what to do with all the ephemera we collect on our various travels, be it holidaying, walking in the local countryside, theatre and museum visits or a family gathering. Artist Jackie Sumerfield gave us a comprehensive insight into the world of journaling. No special skills required, just Pritt stick, scissors, pen and a notebook. You can use photos, newspaper cuttings, tickets, paints, pens, dried leaves/flowers, or stamps.  Anything goes and you can make a visual record of whatever interests you. Jackie has been journaling for almost thirty years and showed us many interesting examples of the different ways in which you can journal. It is not just a diary but a pictorial record of anything you wish to record. Well done to the Cookery Creative Crafts team for organising such an interesting speaker via Zoom on what was a very dismal December day in Essex. We can now resolve to start a journal for 2021.”

Elizabeth Haines, Great Canfield and High Roding WI

Christmas Cooking

“The weather outside was frightful.  So I was pleased to be signed up to Zoom with you in Essex. The recipes are sent out in plenty of time to gather your ingredients and cook along. I sat back as Kelly took us through the methods for 3 different biscuits. Biscotti, a favourite of mine, lovely to dip in a cup of rich black coffee. A savoury (new idea for me) shortbread with cheese and walnuts and triple chocolate cookies! A lot to pack into an hour.

Kelly is a very enthusiastic tutor, a qualified pastry chef and ran the Cookery School at Denman. We were encouraged to take the basic recipes and make them our own. Lots of time saving tips too, prepare ahead and voila!! Delicious homemade biscuits to surprise your friends, family and dare I say WI, when the world returns to normal.

If you are new to the world of Zoom, do give it a go. Denman at Home have a comprehensive list, covering a variety of subjects. Usually an hour long, value for money, great tutors and some Me time. Thank you to the Cookery & Creative Crafts Committee for organising this event, I look forward to joining you in the very near future. Stay safe.”

June Ward, Sidford WI (Devon) and Past Fed Essex Chair.

We always are happy to welcome WI members to observe at subcommittee meetings and receive their feedback. In January we welcomed Kerry Franklin whose feedback we are pleased to share with you:

“In January I was welcomed as an observer by Fiona and Committee Members at their Zoom meeting. The key focus was the planning and delivery of the programme of activities along with the identification and meeting of the challenges that virtual delivery presents. The Committee discussed whether particular workshops/activities could be delivered virtually, could the technical requirements be met, would the presenter have the required camera angles and whether a trial run for some events would be a good way forward. Uptake of past events, feedback from individuals who had attended and ideas for the future were all taken into account to help inform the programme, with, naturally, a close eye on finances and the all-important promotion of events. Headlines were brought together for a monthly summary for the Essex WI website of that which has taken place, with photos where available, and what is on the horizon.

Whilst there, I thanked the Committee, and Fiona as Chair, for doing all that they do. For, as a WI member I feel that they have risen to such an unprecedented challenge of running a really interesting virtual programme during the COVID-19 restrictions. I have appreciated the range of activities advertised, the pre-information about events and, through my experience of those that I have joined, I have found that these have been professionally delivered, were value for money and learning outcomes achieved. I am looking forward to the remaining 2021 programme.”

 Kerry Franklin, Brightlingsea WI

On a different note, BBC 4 recently aired 2 craft related programmes. The first was Jenny Éclair on Craftivism and we are planning to feature this subject on our March CCC web page. One of the contributors was Sarah Corbett who was one of our speakers at a Fed Essex Textiles day back in 2014. In Essex we like to be ahead of the game! The second programme hosted by Martha Kearney was on two talented crafts women, one who embroidered textured lampshades and the second, Christine Green (a former Denman tutor), an expert on paper cutting.

These are the links if you missed them:



Now, looking forward, Gill, who has been organising our virtual talks and workshops writes:

It has been great to see the positive feedback to the events we have put on so far and coming up:

Pat Lumsdale’s Patchwork Strip Bag

Saturday 20 Feb @ 2pm, £5 or £7 – see below for details of options

Pat, one of Denman’s favourite sewing tutors, will be demonstrating her useful sturdy tote bag, the bag can have sides made up using a patchwork technique or just be single pieces of fabric. The demo will show you how to construct the bag itself and also how to make one of the patchwork techniques that you might want to use to make up the sides.

If you would also like a full colour instruction leaflet, with photographs of each stage of the process, Pat is offering this as a PDF download for the special price of £2. (this usually costs £5.50).  If you would like to purchase this leaflet for the demonstration, please request and pay for at the time of booking (£7 in total).  After the event the PDF will only be available from Pat’s website.

To book email: tickets@essexwi.org.uk – Booking Reference: PLB

Treasures from the Collection of the RSN

Thursday 4 March @ 7.30pm, £5

 We are delighted to welcome back Dr Susan Kay-Williams the Royal School of Needlework’s Chief Executive and Exhibition Curator.  During this session we will look at some of the interesting, unusual, beautiful and fascinating items in the RSN Collection of textiles and archive of designs and images from the 17th century to the 21st

To book email: tickets@essexei.org.uk – Booking Reference: RSN2


If you have never Zoomed then please take the plunge and come along.  I know some are nervous about being seen on screen or feel they might press the wrong button and be heard by everyone. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to be seen you can choose to not have your camera on. Usually, too, you will be all muted centrally so everyone can hear the speaker and time is given at the end for questions. There’s a guide to using Zoom available to help you out that we have attached for you.


So do sign up and you can just sit back, have a cup of tea, (or a glass of something stronger) knit, sew and have an enjoyable hour with friends.

Stop Press

As we are still not able to meet due to Covid restrictions.  the following workshops have been deferred:

Splash and Stitch will now take place on 21 July and 28 July.

Advanced Tunisian Crochet is being rescheduled for September.

Fused Glass workshop will not take place in June. Watch this space for an alternative date.

We hope that you are enjoying our monthly web pages and would love to hear from you so do send in news of your crafty projects into us via the Federation Office.

Take care and stay safe and keep crafting and cooking.

Fiona – Chair of CCC

January Update

Happy New Year from the Cookery and Creative Craft Committee and let’s hope that 2021 is the year when we can all meet again in person and enjoy the friendship that WI events offer.

The following events / workshops have been organised and we are keeping fingers crossed that we will be able to meet at WI Centre. However please bear in mind that due to Covid restrictions and NFWI recommendations that events / workshops may be cancelled and /or postponed, but we will keep you updated as soon as we know what’s happening,

In the interim CCC are planning virtual talks and workshops so keep an eye on FEWI publicity in Essex News, Facebook and calendar on the website.

The proposed programme for 2021 is:-

Tuesday 13th and Tuesday 27th April – Splash and Stitch

This workshop, led by Pam Jermy, will consist of 2 sessions. On the first morning you will be painting a floral scene on silk and on the second morning this will be embroidered using metallic threads and silks.

Friday 30th April – Advanced Tunisian Crochet

Having mastered the basics of Tunisian crochet this is your opportunity to improve under Michele’s expert tutorage and leave with a hat to wear.

Friday 29th May – Family Crochet

An opportunity for all to learn to crochet so bring the family and share the joy of crochet together with Jo Adams.

Saturday 12th June – Fused Glass Summer Carnival

We are delighted to have Katie Lynn of Molton Glass with us again. Following on from Festive Fusion you can once again make 3 different items this time in beautiful summer colours. This is an extremely popular event so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Tuesday 22nd June – Cake Decorating with Angela

Learn and practice the skills and techniques for cake decorating using both royal icing and fondant icing.

Thursday 22nd July – Powertex

The opportunity to get creative with Sarah decorating a glass and a bottle using powertex a non-toxic, water-based, environmentally friendly textile hardener. You will be amazed by what you can achieve!!

Friday 10th September – Gingham Embroidery

Using basic stitches on gingham fabric create a personalised book mark with Mary Long.

Thursday 7th October – Trapunto

Explore the raised and padded quilting technique of trapunto in creating a petite drawstring bag suitable for all occasions. This workshop will be led by Karen Odinga.

Friday 15 October – Zentangle

Bring out the artist inside you. An easy to learn, relaxing and fun way to draw patterns (morning) which you will then embellish with embroidery in the afternoon. A workshop suitable for all who wish to relax!

Wednesday 3rd November – Christmas Beading

Bead your own personalised handmade Christmas bauble with Carol Allen. This is suitable for beginners and you are assured of a beautiful bauble to adorn your home.

Saturday 20th November – Dabble Day

Following on from our successful dabble day in 2019 we have organised a day when you will be making 3 different crafts and the price includes a soup lunch and tea and cake.

Saturday 4th December – Needle Felting

Learn the skills of needle felting by creating your own Christmas robin, Lesley Evans will lead this session.

We do hope that there is a workshop here that interests you, but do remember to book early as there are limited places available. If you would like to come to WI center but do not drive remember if you let the office know we can collect you from Hatfield Peveral train station.

We need to thank Gill Hathaway, our newest CCC committee member for the planning and organising of our virtual events and she writes

“I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions but I have started my Journal, inspired by Jackie Sumerfield who shared her wonderful ideas for recording even the smallest happenings. I’ve made scandi-trees with Claire Salmon and biscuits with KellyMaguer – all via our ‘FEWI presents’ Zooms. By the time you read this I will haveproduced something decorative from old wrapping paper courtesy of Leila Khasal!!”

As we enter the next (and hopefully the last) lockdown, we look forward to the next two events at just £5 each:

Monday 25th January at 7.30pm

We will hear all about the amazing Charity Fine Cell Works from volunteer Melinda Barry. Melinda will speak about the use of needlework as therapy, the formation of Fine Cell Work and the work they do as a charity, the current situation in British prisons, and some of her personal experience of teaching quilting in prisons.

To book your place email Tickets@essexwi.org.uk – Booking ref: FCW

Wednesday 10th February at 7pm

Mark Francis, Great British Sewing Bee quarter-finalist will be telling us all about his time on the Show, sharing with us the some of his ‘GBSB” creations and transformations and the projects he has done since. There will plenty of time for questions too

To book your place email Tickets@essexwi.org.uk – Booking ref: BSB

CCC will continue to bring demonstrations and talks through the year, one of the tutors we are hoping to secure is Gary Mills who has taught at Denman. He has kindly invited members to a free zoom 1-hour mini workshop that he is doing. The workshop is taking place on January 23rd 11am -12 noon, it’s to make a simple flowerbrooch from a zip. It’s open to anyone to join in you just have to register.

Click link: Online Workshops Sewing & Quilting | My Site (craftymonkies.com)

And scroll down to Gary Mills all Zipped Up Corsage Saturday 23rd January 2021 and click the link to register for your zoom link which will be sent to you via CraftyMonkies.

Look forward to seeing you on Zoom soon.

On a different note it was lovely to receive this letter from Nicky and hearing about her crafty creations;-

“I became slightly obsessed with Rainbows during Lockdown 1. I started off by making a hama bead rainbow for all our WI members and hand delivered them with a little poem, these were very well received and was lovely walking round Maldon and seeing them hanging in members windows. I then decided to do as many crafts as I could using rainbow colours. I now have a Rainbow wall in my kitchen. The crafts comprise of Cross Stitch, Hama Bead Designs, Crystal Art, Mosaic and String Art. I attach some photos for you.”

Kind Regards, Nicky Martin, Maldon Wycke WI – Secretary”

We would love to hear from more Essex Fed members about their cookery and craft projects, so do send them in to Fiona via Sarah at Fed Office.

Keep smiling, crafting and cooking ladies, and keep safe and well.

Kind regards,

Fiona – Chair of CCC

Christmas To Go With Cookery And Creative Crafts

Christmas is nearly here and we wanted to share some of the projects that committee members will be busy with over the next few week and after Christmas  and we hope that you may feel inspired to have a go.

Moyra is a very passionate flower arranger and has outlined the steps  for a festive table arrangement.

Step 1

take a whole block of oasis and start building up layers of greenery from the garden. I’ve used a lime green conifer for this and some contrasting greenery from hedging for the bottom row.

Step 2

start covering the top of the block.

Step 3

add gypsophila for some sparkle.

Step 4

red roses from a supermarket finishes the arrangement.

Julie’s presents are always beautifully gift wrapped and here she shares some top tips:-

  • Always measure your paper before cutting. Allow for an overlap of 2” on long side and measure so that short edges of paper just fall below parcel edge on either side. Measuring avoids trying to chop off excess paper whilst wrapping gift!
  • Fold under one long edge of paper. This gives a nice crisp creased finish. Tape this piece in place along parcel edge (with other long edge overlapped underneath) not along the middle of the reverse. This gives an almost ‘invisible’ seam join and looks very professional!
  • Use tape to suit your paper. Crystal clear for gloss and matt or invisible tape for matt paper. Better still use double sided tape under flaps so no tape is visible at all. This is how the professionals do it!
  • Envelope ends look very neat. Fold over edge of finishing flap before taping in place to give a nice crisp finish. Fold over where it crosses the other flap to give the envelope finish. Ideally this flap should point towards bottom of parcel.
  • If tape will not ‘stick’, especially to gloss finish or foil papers use an emery board to roughen the surface of the paper and the tape will then stick and stay in place!
  • A good weight or ‘thicker quality’ paper always gives the best results. If using thin paper use it folded to give a double thickness. This helps to avoid paper tearing on corners of parcel. Alternatives for wrapping are wallpaper, brown paper etc. An idea I saw recently used the crossword page from a newspaper to wrap a puzzle book. Secured with a black ribbon it looked very classy!
  • Put a few pleats in your paper either lengthways or widthways before wrapping (allow plenty of paper for this) and tape in place on the reverse. This gives a very attractive look to your parcel. Practice pleating on scrap paper first though!
  • For ‘upright’ parcels leave a generous amount of paper undone at the top. Pleat this down to the parcel edge, secure in middle, pull open pleats and you have a fancy fan effect! Alternatively fold this large flap down and fold bottom edge under to give a ‘handbag’ style finish or just fold over a couple of times to give a gift bag look. If you do this use shredded tissue to pad out your bag.
  • ‘Wrap’ a contrasting band of paper around your wrapped parcel, either lengthways or on the shorter side. Fold under each long edge of this piece of paper to give a crisp finish. Wrap ribbon round on top of this band to add more wow factor if you want to!
  • Use two strips or more of contrasting and different width ribbon to wrap around your parcel. Wired ribbon does not lay flat so keep this for your bows!
  • Be flamboyant with your bows! Wired ribbon makes a lovely looped bow. Put two together for more flounce! Contrasting ribbons can look super as well. If you like, for Christmas gifts in particular, wire in a few small fir cones to the centre of your bow and/or wired small baubles. Unwired organza ribbons give a ‘droopy’ bow but look very pretty.
  • ‘Stalks’ cut from Christmas picks or even holly and other evergreens can be used to embellish your parcels.   Plenty of other ideas can be found on line……
  • Glue a piece of matching wrapping paper to a piece of card. Mark a circle, square or rectangle on reverse and cut out for a gift tag.

Angela has a twist on a favourite baked item – gingerbread men to reindeer!!

Mix in a bowl:

175 g of plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground ginger

Rub in 50 g of margarine

Add 85 g of brown sugar

Mix well add 1 small egg and 1tbsp syrup.

Allow to chill in the fridge for an hour.

Roll out to a couple of mm, cut out and place on a tray with baking parchment.

Add 1/2 a cherry for the nose and currants for the eyes

Cook for 7 mins at 170 degrees

Use icing sugar and water to make a thick pipeable icing to put details on the biscuits.

Too cute to eat!!

Paulette has been busy making a Christmas runner for the table.

Jo will be sending handmade parchment cards and writes:-

“Here are a couple of Christmas cards I have made.  They are parchment cards and use embossing, piercing and fine cutting techniques.  I belong to a small group who meet at Barleylands Craft Village.”

Thank you Lesley for the following Christmas wordsearch.

Judith will be knitting and has let us know that she has  “spent many happy hours scouring Charity shops for unfinished knitting or interesting balls of wool to make scarves to sell in aid of the Air Ambulance. I shall be ready with my offerings when their shops open again in March 2021.”

And if you need a rest during the run up to Christmas why not join or book one of our Zoom workshops organised by Gill who writes.

“We hope you have enjoyed the events we have brought you so far and we will be finishing this year with a scrumptious festive biscuit cook-along on 14th December with Denman’s own Kelly Mauger.  It’s not too late to book – details are on our Events page (add link to events page).

Lots more Zoom events planned too for the first quarter of next year.  We kick off on 8th January with some fun things to make from all that leftover wrapping paper, old magazines or any coloured paper, with the talented Leila Khasal.  There will be a demonstration from the wonderful Pat Lumsdale in February on how to make a ‘strip piece’ bag. Details coming soon.

We will also have some great speakers: Mark Francis, finalist from the Great British Sewing Bee, the return of the Dr Susan Kay-Williams of the RSN who will be delving further into their archives and we hope to have a representative from the amazing Fine Cell Work organisation which works with prisoners, training them in creative needlework in order to allow them to finish their sentences with work skills, money earned and saved, and the self belief to not re-offend.”

Please keep an  eye out for more details the Zoom events via your Federation Updates, this website and Facebook.Hazel is looking forward to being in her garden after Christmas and writes

“Once Christmas is past January seems to stretch for months ahead of us, so it is a good time to have a good look at the appearance of our gardens. The mixture of flood followed by drought wrought havoc in 2020 and it has given us an excuse to do some replanting. A good planting using some evergreens and some winter flowering shrubs, most of which have a lovely scent, make a garden look good all the year.

Camellias all have glossy green leaves and come in a wide variety of colours, flowers, and sizes (which can easily be pruned  if necessary in May) look good all the year. Daphnebholua  “Jacqueline Postill” has beautiful pink flowers over a long period and a wonderful scent, as does the winter flowering honeysuckle Lonicera “Winter Beauty with pendant ivory flowers; another is Osmanthus burkwoodii  with small dark green leaves and masses of small white flowers which smell wonderful.  The wintersweet Chimonanthus praecox with lemon yellow flowers  also has a wonderful scent. Not all evergreens are green, and Loropetalum “Fire Dance” has small burgundy leaves which are pinkish beneath and has long lasting spidery lipstick pink flowers.

There are a lot of deciduous shrubs which flower over a long winter period, these include the Witch hazel genus “Hamamelis” in many named forms and colours from pale lemon to deep red.  Daphne mezereum both purple and white; Edgeworthia chrysanthus and E.grandiflora with larger lollipops of yellow flowers, and, of course Vibirnum bodnantense “Dawn”, all of these have wonderful scents. This is not to forget the smaller Daphnes Transatlantica “Eternal Fragrance” and its sister “Pink Fragrance”. There are a number of evergreen clematis of which C. FReckles pale pink flowers with maroon spots and “Wisley Cream” with pretty creamy white flowers are just a few.

All plants must deserve their place and a lot of deciduous shrubs can be used to host summer flowering clematis.”

The CCC committee would like to wish all Fed Essex Members a Peaceful and Merry Christmas and say thank you for all the support you have given us throughout the past year. We are looking forward to seeing you either virtually or in person at our events and workshops next year

Last year I was sitting up very late finishing knitting a jumper for my son and I am sure this is not an uncommon occurrence for many of us who craft presents for Christmas. This poem is for knitters and crafters  at Christmas and finishes with a pertinent message.

Happy New Year from all the CCC committee

Fiona – Chair of CCC


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all around me
Was unfinished knitting not under the tree.
The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care
’cause the heels and the toes had not a stitch there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds
but I had not finished the caps for their heads.
Dad was asleep; he was no help at all,
And the sweater for him was six inches too small.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I put down my needles to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tripped over my yarn and fell down with a crash.

The tangle of yarn that lay deep as the snow
Reminded me how much I still had to go.
Out on my lawn, I heard such a noise,
I thought it would wake both dad and the boys.

And though I was tired, my brain was a bit thick,
I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick.
But what I heard then left me perplexed-ed,
For not a name I heard was what I had expected
“move, Ashford; move, Lopi; move, Addie and Clover
Move, Reynolds; move, Starmore; move, Fraylic–move
“Paton, don’t circle round; stand in line.

Come now, you sheep wool work just fine!
I know this is hard semi, it’s just your first year,
I’d hate to go back to eight tiny reindeer.”
I peered over the sill; what I saw was amazing,
Eight woolly sheep on my lawn all a’grazing.

And then,in a twinkle, I heard at the door
Santa’s feet coming across the porch floor.
I rose from my knees and got back on my feet,
And as I turned round, Saint Nick, I did meet.

He was dressed all in wool from his head to his toe
And his clothes were handknit from above to below.
A bright Fairisle sweater he wore on his back,
and his toys were all stuffed in an Aran knit sack.
His cap was a wonder of bobbles and lace,
A beautiful frame for his rosy red face.

The scarf round his neck could have stretched for a
And the socks peeking over his boots were Argyle.
The back of his mittens bore an intricate cable,
And suddenly on one I spied a small label.
SC was duplicate stitched on the cuff,
and I asked “Hey Nick, did you knit all this stuff?”

He proudly replied “Ho-ho-ho, yes I did,
I learned how to knit when I was a kid.”
He was chubby and plump, a quite well-dressed old man,
And I laughed to myself for I’d thought up a plan.

I flashed him a grin and jumped up in the air,
And the next thing he knew he was tied to a chair.
He spoke not a word, but looked in his lap
Where I’d laid my needles and yarn for a cap.

He quickly began knitting, first one cap then two;
For the first time I thought I’d really get through.
He put heels on the stockings and toes in some socks
While I sat back drinking Scotch on the rocks!!

So quickly like magic, his needles they flew,
That he was all finished by quarter to two.
He sprang for his sleigh when I let him go free,
And over his shoulder he looked back at me.
And I heard him exclaim as he sailed past the moon
“Next year start your knitting sometime around June.”

Author Unknown

November Update

Having started our new virtual events we are sharing two attendee’s views

Zooming Marvelous!

Our first Committee virtual event took place at the end of October with an evening illustrated talk given by Dr Susan Kay-Williams, CEO and Curator of The Royal School of Needlework.

Members from across the County and the Country watched as Susan gave us a fascinating talk on life at the RSN, its history and educational focus. Exquisite pieces of embroidered work were shown, both commissioned and those of students. The workmanship seen close up was breathtaking. Royal robes and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, insignia, both large and small, pictorial commissions and ecclesiastical vestments were among just some of the beautiful examples shown.

It was a wonderful talk with time for questions at the end. Thanks go to Fiona for arranging this event.

Julie Alen – Vice Chair of CCC

The evening Zoom began with a friendly WI welcome around the Zoom room as we settled in for our anticipated talk from the RSN’s Chief Executive, curator and archivist Dr Susan Kay-Williams. Essex Chair Jan Curtis made us all feel very welcome, viewing from our own homes, and it was interesting to see WI members from around the country joining us for the evening.

We were invited to enjoy a whirlwind introduction to the RSN encapsulating 148 years of history into 45 minutes. The talk with slide photos took us from the beginning in 1923 when the institution was founded with royal patronage through to the present day. The links with the royal family continued throughout with many examples of exquisite hand embroidered emblems from coronation robes to wedding dresses all accomplished with the school’s inimitable technical skill.

The examples of hand stitched work were outstanding and the idea of many skilled technicians working on one design under time constraints relied on the school’s prowess at training universally matched techniques. ‘Never was a seat left cold’ was the description of how an embroiderer could be replaced at a moment’s notice without noticeable interruption to the progress of the commission at hand.

The early ethos of the RSN was threefold: to preserve the skills of hand embroidery, to elevate needlework to the realm of Art and to provide training and an occupation for women. These principles have evolved to the 21st century as the school is at the cutting edge of Art needlework and maintains a strong tradition of education. They offer the only needlework BA in Britain and continue to provide courses to train teachers and enthusiasts alike.

The views of the school’s studios and work rooms at its home at Hampton Court Palace felt like an Aladdin’s cave of silks and threads of every conceivable colour. Like many of the viewers I felt I would

love to immerse myself into that world by taking part in one of the classes and I resolved to look up the courses available on the RSN website. What a treat it would be to spend a day stitching along with a tutor even if at present it would have to be at my own home facilitated by Zoom. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a day in Lockdown.

RSN website Royal School of Needlework Website is packed with further information.

Joanna Starr, Tea N Tiaras WI, Chelmsford

We have more zoom talks lined up and arranged by Gill Hathaway so keep an eye out on social media and on Fed Essex Webpage. Our next is ‘Scandi Christmas Tree Make-Along’ with Claire Salmon on Saturday November 21st at 2pm. Either make along or watch and make later! Full instructions will be sent beforehand. Claire is an excellent tutor and does something most weeks on Denman at Home. Just a reminder on how to book tickets: email tickets@essexwi.org.uk or phone 01245 382233 £5 payable on line or by phone.

We have been asking our members to send in details of the crafts that they have been doing over lockdown and are pleased to share with you Joanna Phillip’s of West Tilbury WI new hobby.

“I met Sandra, one of St Luke’s Hospice Day patients, in April last year, Sandra is my mentor for mosaic art, she has completed many amazing projects. In April I was furloughed, so with time on my hands I decided I wanted a new hobby to keep me occupied as I wasn’t used to having spare time on my hands. My first project was an owl kit, followed by sun catchers that I have gifted to friends and family. My other projects include: butterflies, a mirror frames and more sun catchers. I have loved learning a new hobby and it has helped me through this period of uncertainty. I am totally hooked, my next project is a mosaic table. Another project I tried, was wood turning, taught by my father in law, I completed a wooden cheese board”

Thank you to Joanna for sharing her new craft skills with us and well done to her for selling these and donating the money to the hospice she works in. We would love to show case member’s crafts so please send them to Fiona via the Federation Secretary.

As I write this we have just entered the month long lockdown so please stay safe and remember to keep in touch with your WI friends; what a perfect opportunity to start a new craft, finish some of the projects that you have started or do some research into something you always wanted to investigate but never had the time, no excuses now!!

With best wishes from all the Cookery and Creative craft committee members


We’re back!!!

Having had to sadly cancel most of our planned events for 2020 and not being able to welcome you in person to WI centre, we are hoping to be able to welcome you virtually to our first ever Cookery and Creative Crafts online programme. We have an exciting range of virtual events organised and do hope that you will support and enjoy these exciting workshops/talks, as described below.

These will all be delivered via Zoom to you at a cost of just £5 per event. The procedure for attending these virtual talks is as below:-

Ticket ordering

Please order your place at tickets@essexwi.org.uk This will provide us with your email address so that we can send you joining instructions.

Joining instructions will only be sent if payment has been received.

Making Payment

· Phone the WI Centre 01245 382233 for card payments

· To make payment via Bank Transfer (BACs) please use the reference indicated for the talk, this is noted beside the date of each talk, you wish to attend and your Surname i.e. 001/Lawton

Bank Account name FEWI

Account number: 55459811

Sort Code: 60-05-13

Ref: 001/Lawton

The Zoom meeting details and any material information will be sent out by email 2 to 3 days before the event.



Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Royal School of Needlework Collection Curator and Chief Executive.

We are so excited to be able to start our Cookery and Creative Craft Zoom Programme with Dr Susan Kay-Williams, who has been Chief Executive of the RSN since, 2007.

Her talk will cover the history of the RSN, the work they do, their educational focus and the notable pieces of embroidery that they have been involved in such as the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.



Claire Salmon’s Scandi Style Christmas Tree make Along

Have some fun and learn to make your own Christmas trees using everyday items and small pieces of fabric. Why not make a whole forest of these little Scandinavian style potted trees to decorate a festive windowsill or mantlepiece. Using basic machine or hand sewing and some embellishments these are also great fun to make with kids if you need to entertain them in the holidays. No needle drop guaranteed!



Journalling with Jackie Sumerfield

Wish you had started a Journal this year? Or want to give the one you have some ‘va va voom’? Then this is the talk for you. Jackie’s maxim is that anyone can keep a journal; you don’t need to draw or be an artist to have a beautiful and memorable journal of your own. Having kept illustrated journals since 2008 using a variety of books and media, Jackie is passionate about encouraging others to do the same. There will be lots of examples and tips to inspire.



Leila Khasal’s Papercraft make-along

Using materials most of you will find in the home, this is a workshop with some fun ideas using any kind of paper – colourful catalogues/magazines/ Christmas or birthday wrapping paper.

The technique is fun and suited to any skill level, you’ll start with a hanging ornament and from there on to a ball/lollipop and a flower. So not only will you be left with an inner glow from successfully recycling but will also have something cheery to brighten the short winter days



Mark Francis, Quarter-Finalist, The Great British Sewing Bee

Mark describes himself as Sewer, Pianist, Whovian, Dog father and husband, not forgetting he is also a Great British Sewing Bee Quarter Finalist 2020.

So, please join Mark as he talks about his time on the show. He will also be able to share with us some of his GBSB creations and transformations and what it was really like behind the scenes.

Whilst we do hope that next year we’ll be able to meet in person again, and bring you all the wonderful workshops we had planned for this year – plus more; we will continue to look to add Zoom events to these dates – so please watch this space (and Facebook and Essex News and updates from your Secretaries!!)

With best wishes

Gill Hathaway

Cookery and Creative Crafts.

Our intention for next month’s webpage is to showcase some of the craft, gardening and cooking that Essex Members have been doing during the past few months so please send your photographs and notes to Fiona at fionacatt@gmail.com

Thank you ladies I look forward to hearing from lots of you!! Fiona

Reflections on ‘Denman At Home

from the Cookery and Creative crafts committee

Committee member Julie Alen highlights this new way of on line learning…..

At the start of lockdown our WI College, Denman, closed. However, Denman staff then put plans together to start ‘on line learning’ via ‘zoom sessions’ to benefit both WI members and non-members. Emails and social media advertising plus WI Life/Essex News has helped spread the word and the take up for courses has grown and grown. Like me, I expect zoom was an unknown term prior to lockdown!

Courses/sessions on offer cover a variety of interests. Each session is usually one to one and a half hours long and costs only £5! Booking and payment is all done on line and course details/recipes etc. are then sent to you via email. Most of the tutors have taught at Denman and are well known to many. Historical talks, London tour talks, cookery demonstrations and cook along sessions, craft courses and well- being sessions, there really is something for everyone!

New courses are being added each week and some have proved so popular they are being repeated, with some on a Saturday. WI Dolly demo, Make do and mend- The Land Girl, being one of them. 400+ viewers first time round!

Click here Denman At Home (or google ‘Denman at Home’ and you will be taken to the web page) and you will see full details for each course currently on offer as you scroll down the page.

On a personal note I have joined historical talks and both cookery and craft sessions. I have thoroughly enjoyed each one and have learnt a lot along the way. It is also lovely to see and connect with so many people in these strange times when social contact with others has been so restricted.

On the cookery front an ‘Artisan Soda Bread’ has now been perfected and is a weekly bake and the Frangipan Tart will also become a regular make. Pity there were only two of us to eat it the first time I made it!! At the time of writing (end of July) I have signed up for four more sessions.

Despite the proposal to close Denman permanently being announced, these courses will continue. In the longer term a new educational model will be launched by NFWI.

Fellow Craft Committee members have also been participating in theses wonderful sessions and below they share their own reflections on the courses they have participated.

Moyra writes, “I’ve been on two talks with Simon Gregor, one about remembrance of WW1 and another about D-Day and the beaches of Normandy. Both were excellent and accompanied by very good photographs and slides. Another I was on was ‘Murder, Sex and Mayhem in English Churches with John Vigar – it was fascinating. These talks are such good value at £5 and so easy to join.”

Angela who has been kept busy during the past few months found time to register on one of the very first Denman at home courses. The session was run by Kelly and participants had the choice to either cook along, but you did need to have all the ingredients weighed out, or just watch.

Angela commented “both recipes were handy as you could use up bits of nuts and fruits that you had in the cupboard, and that is was one of my 1st Zoom meetings and was very easy to install and get connected to.” Here are the recipes if you would like to have a go:


This is a great recipe for using up old bananas and any nuts or dried fruit that could be lingering in cupboards.


225g self-raising flour

70g butter

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

115g caster sugar

3 very ripe bananas

2 eggs

100g extra ingredients eg. roughly chopped nuts, dried fruit of your choice, chocolate chips etc.


2lb Loaf tin

Baking parchment/Loaf liner

Mixing bowl


Plate and fork (to mash the banana)


· Preheat the oven to 180C/360F and line a 2lb baking tin with parchment or a loaf tin liner.

· Place the flour, butter, baking powder and salt into a bowl and crumb with your fingers for 4-5 minutes to form a fine crumb texture.

· Mix in the sugar.

· Separately mash the 3 ripe bananas and beat the egg, then add both to the bowl of crumbed ingredients.

· Beat the mixture together with a spoon or spatula until just mixed, then add the 100g of extra ingredients of your choosing and fold through until evenly distributed.

· Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45-60 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer can be removed cleanly.

· Leave to cool.


These cookies can be flavoured with vanilla, cocoa and/or spices and contain various fillings, including chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit and oats.

Makes 18-24


125g butter, softened

100g light brown soft sugar

125g caster sugar

1 egg – beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

225g self-raising flour

½ tsp salt

200g chocolate chips


Baking tray

Baking parchment

Electric mixer

Mixing bowl





· Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together in a bowl until pale.

· Once creamed, add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated.

· Add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly, then add the chocolate chips.

· Roll into a long, thick sausage shape and place in the fridge for 1 hour or the freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes to harden. (Can also be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months)

· To bake, preheat oven to 180C and prepare the baking tray with parchment.

· Slice the cookie dough 1 cm thick and place on the prepared trays. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are just setting. (Lightly browned on outside but still pale in the centre.)

· Take out of the oven and leave to harden for 5 minutes before consuming.

Lesley writes:-

“Well The New Normal in lockdown has been watching Zoom meetings and I have thoroughly enjoyed the meetings that Denman at Home have been offering. I have made needle-felted robins and tried eco dyeing and nuno felting with Sue Pearl . There is a needle-felted Mr. Fox next week and, a couple of days later, Felted Jewellery.

I’ve also watched a workshop with Claire “Make do and Med” to make a Land Girl Doll. It included pattern and instructions and is a work in progress for me. (Although there have been pics on Facebook from members). There was also a walking tour with Simon on “ Walking the River Thames” and directly from Canada a lovely and informative talk about “Adelaide Hoodles”.

Di says:-

“I thoroughly recommend you having a look at the Denman at Home page as it is being continually updated. If you get the chance have a look on the WI Wanderers Facebook page too, you can look at the events for the next day. I hope you all find a subject that inspires you to join many other WI members from all over the country. Enjoy”

Gill has also been enjoying the on line sessions too:-

“After the initial hiatus of lockdown, clearing the cupboards lost its appeal so I began looking for something more stimulating and came across the Denman Facebook page and their online courses via Denman At Home. It’s been brilliant with most of the sessions just £5, the cost of a couple of coffees pre-lockdown and great fun.

I’ve cooked along with Kelly Mauger and Ali Haigh – well, to be fair, I only ‘cooked along’ some raspberry flapjacks, for the other sessions I’ve ‘sat along’ and taken notes but definitely will make the avocado and lime cheesecake, it looked amazing. I’ve ‘walked’ with Simon Gregor through London and the First World War Battlefields, listened to John Vigar’s ballroom and cemetery anecdotes and practised some chilled out yoga with Elaine. And then there was the Needle Felting with Sue where I spent a happy 2 hours (without any injuries) and created my very own Old Spot.

Whilst restrictions may have eased, happily there are still more courses running online. Indeed, I’m not sure how it happened but I seem to have signed up for a few more!! “My name is Gill and I am a Denmanathome-aholic” “

We hope that you’ve enjoyed hearing about the experiences of the CCC committee members and that you are inspired to give some a go if you have been taken part in some courses we would love to hear your experiences of Denman At Home – please email them to our Chair, Fiona, at fionacatt@gmail.com

Kind regards from the Committee members of Cookery and Creative Crafts.

What have Cookery & Creative Crafts committee members been up to?

The committee members of CCC have been busy over the lockdown period with a variety of crafts, gardening and cooking and this month we are going to hear from Jo, Lesley, Angela, Sheila and Moyra.

Jo writes

“ I have been working on finishing started projects. First of all I completed a cross-stitch tapestry cushion (2 parrots), which I am very pleased with. Secondly, I have completed a seashells crocheted blanket (pattern from Attic 24). I love the colours I chose to do it. It was a dodgy scarf in width before the lockdown and then grew remarkably quickly once the hibernation got under way. Last of all I have a work in progress…. A seashells crocheted scarf in Christmas colours which will be for my Mum hopefully for this Christmas coming, but possibility for 2021!”

Lesley has been finding that she can cook!!

“At the start of the lockdown I realised that I would get very fed up cooking everyday with out the occasional take away. So I looked for a way to help me keep interested. I found Mindful Chef . Now I have two or three meals delivered every week depending on what they have. Who knew I could cook?!! This pic was Cajun Chicken & Roasted Veggie Lettuce Tacos .

She has also been working on another stumpwork project this time a white swan in stumpwork, finished article to appear in next CCC webpage.


Angela has been very busy!

She has been supplying customers with afternoon teas, Angela was due to tutor a cake decorating workshop that had to be cancelled but look out for new date for 2021. Some of Angela’s afternoon teas and cakes are shown below, if you were not hungry before you will be now!!

Sheila has been inspired by Graysons Perrys Art Club programme to do some projects that she is hoping to do a talk on, so watch this space. She writes that her time in lockdown has “unleashed some creativity which has been fun but I do wonder where it has come from!!!! “

Moyra has been busy!

“Life continues chez Jackson with a lot of reading, crafting, gardening and a lot of zooming!

Lynsey and I have been making baskets for friends. One of them was sent to a friends who has just had a beautiful baby girl and it’s now in her nursery.

I’ve been busy gardening. I’ve even found an unused space on our drive for plants leftover from our allotment. Have already had a great crop of tomatoes and courgettes. Helped with the planting in the village too – 1200 plants now making Elsenham look blooming lovely!

The lovely Katie Lynn of Molten Wonky delivered some pack and the whole family were involved making pictures and sun catchers which Katie takes away to fuse in her kiln. Watch out for Katie returning to WI Centre next year for one of her Fused Glass workshops.”

CCC committee have not met now since early In 2020 but are meeting virtually in late July to plan the programme for next year and we do hope that we will be soon welcoming you back to Hatfield Peveral for workshops. Whilst we are still unsure when this will be don’t forget to look at MY WI for ideas on craft, gardening and cooking and if anyone has any pictures of the projects that they have been doing over the last few months please send them to Fiona at fionacatt@gmail.com and we will include them in our monthly webpage.

During lockdown I am sure like me you have all missed meeting your WI friends and I know that many have been using technology to keep in touch but it will be so lovely when we can all meet in person. I have been using these past few weeks to do a number of craft projects, I have to confess I have now completed Christmas presents for most of my friends!! I am sure, like me, you all enjoyed the Great British Sewing Bee, I was amazed at the innovation sewing challenges and the garments that were produced. In my spare moments(!!!) I have been exploring Pinterest for different needlecraft ideas and have a long list of projects in my head to start. My daughter Meghann thought she would tidy my craft cupboard last week and got vey exasperated when I kept saying “ I’ll keep that you never know when I might use it”- does this sound familiar? But you never do know do you when you might need that piece of material, button, odd bit of braid?

Have any of you been doing the on line Denman classes and if so why not write and let me know how you got on, it would be great if we could include this in our next web update. Updates regarding CCC workshops will be sent from Fed Secretary as decisions are made but rest assured we have not forgotten you.

With best wishes from myself and the members of CCC.


June Jottings from Gill Hathaway, our ‘newbie’ committee member

‘Would you like to come to a Cookery & Creative Crafts (C&CC) committee meeting as an observer?’

I’d been to several of the craft workshops, so I thought, why not, it’ll be interesting to see how the programme is put together. The last thing my husband said as I went out the door was ‘Don’t put your hand up for anything’. He knows me too well!!

The meeting was great; I’m more of a dabbler than an expert in any particular craft but I didn’t feel out of my depth as the Chair, Fiona Cattermole, and the Committee made me very welcome. Everyone was contributing, be it about new workshops, analysing comments on the feedback sheets to see what was working / what could be done better or discussing launching the workshops to venues outside of WI Centre. Of course, I did put my hand up, and with a small task to report back on at the following meeting; the next step to join the committee was an easy one to take.

Last year I’d also been going to the Climate Action workshops. We keep up to date with what NFWI are working on and the environmental campaigns they support which led to me becoming a Climate Ambassador. But more importantly, we get to share with other Essex WIs plans and hear how they are involving their members and communities – so inspiring. There is input too from our Federation Public Affairs committee, with their initiatives such as the Plan Bee. Happily we’ve been able to continue to meet up virtually as these issues haven’t gone away and it’s good to talk.

So, whilst most of the C&CC plans for 2020 had to be shelved and I’ve only been to one more meeting, the committee keeps in touch; ready to resume once the green light is given. And, as you would expect, they are all keeping busy:

Paulette has been busy doing lots of projects, she writes “I have been making memory wire bracelets and button men (they are bag or key ring attachments. I have finished my WI pattern jumper. I have made a sandwich holder, another WI pattern, and am now starting another quilt.”

Julie writes “With the weather being so glorious I have spent a lot of time outside working in the garden. There is always something to do! The rock-hard ground has been challenging and watering has become a priority for us as our ten water butts are very nearly depleted and greenhouse plants have to be watered with tap water otherwise there is a chance they will damp off. We are collecting water before it goes down the drain in the kitchen sink, transferring to buckets outside and then on to watering cans, ‘every little helps’, especially as we are on a water meter here!

The garden is looking lovely despite the parched grass and fingers crossed we will get some much needed rain soon! I love Hostas and have built up quite a collection over the last few years. Some are grouped in pots near to the house and others near our pond. This group are also in pots but are stood inside metal containers. I never have a problem with slugs! Copper is supposed to be a natural slug barrier but good old galvanised metal works for me! Crushed egg shells are the deterrent for pots near the house and this also works well.

On the craft front I have made a number of Birthday cards. I keep used pretty cards and eventually repurpose them, creating new cards.”

Fiona has been getting ahead of herself making Chrismas presents! These are crewel work embroidered small cushions and feature a red poinsettia outlined with gold. She is now trying to get to grips with freestyle machine embroidery and is hoping to make a lap quilt.

Moyra is still crocheting and gardening and celebrated her pearl wedding anniversary best wishes from the CCC committee.

Back to Gill…

I continue dabbling!! Crochet mask mates, mask headbands, a waistcoat for my 1 year old great-great nephew (I was a very young Aunty!!) and, of course, decorating our windows (basically, anything except housework).

If you are interested in getting more involved, I would say, don’t wait to be asked. Once we are through this and the committees are up and running face to face again, just get in touch. Maybe the Public Affairs committee is the one for you: they are involved in bringing the national resolutions to life as well as more local initiatives, which can make a real difference. Or there’s Arts and Leisure which cater for all hobbies from photography to poetry. You’ve nothing to lose!

Keep Safe and Keep Crafting


May Musings from Committee member Julie…

After so many weeks of social isolating there has been plenty of time to get to grips with things on “The List”. Like me I expect you made one too! During the first week in lockdown I looked at the list but couldn’t get motivated to action anything. However, following my visit to Denman back at the end of February where I did the Bumper Craft Takeaway Course I had come home with one unfinished project, so stirred myself and set about completing it.


On the course I particularly enjoyed making Fabric flowers and was due to cascade these on to members at my own WI’s June meeting so I also set about putting kits together. Each flower needs six fabric circles and this led to me successfully searching through the stash in my workroom for suitable material. My workroom…. one of the jobs on “the list”.  One job leads to another and I went on to have a massive sort out and tidy. It took me a week!  I have never seen my room looking so neat and tidy with everything in its rightful place. The only downside was the amount of rubbish I generated. Did I really need a large box full of pringle and whisky bottle tubes or a large box of boxes collected over the last ten+ years just in case they may be useful at some point? No! Most of the cardboard is destined for the compost heap and the remainder (magazines etc) for recycling.

The following week the weather turned and the garden became the place of work and relaxation. Spring colour and birds and butterflies in the air. No traffic noise and only the occasional plane to be seen. All very surreal.

Having no time constraints on any jobs on “the list” brought a new sense of calm to proceedings and no guilt when deciding to sit and craft either! After four weeks I also finally got some flour so can bake again.

Fellow committee members Angela, Paulette and Jo have been productive as well.

Angela shares her Sour Dough Bread recipe with us this month. I can now testify that this is worth making:




Wholemeal flour
390g Plain flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
580ml Buttermilk (or milk with 2tbs of vinegar or lemon juice added and left to stand for 15 minutes)


Mix flours, salt and bicarbonate together.
Add milk and mix well (it makes quite a sticky dough).
Make into four equal amounts.
Briefly knead into rounds.
Dust with flour.
Make a large cross on the top of each about 1/4 of the depth of the loaf.
Bake in a fan oven 180 degrees for 22 minutes.

Paulette has been working on her bargello quilt ‘I have machine quilted it and attached the binding by machine and I am completing it by hand sewing the binding down’ and reports on her knitted jumper featured in February WI Life. ‘I have still to sew it together and knit round the neck. It appears to be quite big so not sure what will happen when I put it on. It was made with big needles and thick wool so I’m afraid my knitting wasn’t very even!’ Photos show the quilt, jumper (pattern pic and the work in progress!) and also bags and hearts Paulette has made as well.

Jo shares photos of her work. ‘The blanket was a dodgy scarf for a very long time and then we went into lockdown.  All of a sudden it turned into a blanket, which I must say that I am proud of.  The pattern is seashells by Attic 24. The card was embroidered by me. I posted it to my Mum at the beginning of lockdown.  As I ran out of ideas, I now post a sheet from a colouring book with an excuse for a letter on the reverse.  I promised my sister (lives near mum in North Coventry) that I would phone Mum daily and write weekly. So far I have achieved this!  Although I am looking forward to seeing them when the lockdown is over’.

And finally, during my workroom purge I came across this…..

Reasons for buying fabric…

  • It helps keep the economy going. It is our duty to support cotton farmers, textile mills and retail stores.
  • A sudden increase in the Bole weevil population might wipe out the cotton crop for the next ten years.
  • It’s not immoral, illegal or fattening.
  • It keeps without refrigeration and you don’t have to cook it to enjoy it.
  • It insulates the cupboard(s) where it is kept.
  • Because it is on sale.
  • It calms the nerves, gratifies the soul and makes me feel good.
  • Because I am worth it.

Julie Allen – C&CC Committee

CCC March Update from Moyra Jackson

Has there ever been a better time to dig out those half-finished projects, find patterns you always meant to try or to learn a new craft? They do say every cloud . . .

Thought you might like to see what some of the Cookery & Creative Crafts team have been up to in the first week.

lesley 2

Lesley is always busy with crafts –

and they are always a bit out of the ordinary too.

At the moment Lesley has been sorting through some of her amazing craft stash

(she assures me there’s a lot to get through).


This is her most recent make.

In Lesley own words “A chop stitch, a slice of wood, stuffing and a old scarf with a doily.    

Not sure if I will make it into a pincushion or an ornament?”

Another of our very creative crafters is Sheila Gunson.


Yes I am also enjoying some crafts, no pictures yet as I am midway with it, unless you want a picture of a pile of patchwork squares!!!  I am making a patchwork bedcover out of scraps of fabric that have been sitting in my workroom for some time.

 I have been in the garden over the last few days and have opened up a compost bin to find some really lovely compost there which will be very good for the veg patch and my runner beans.”


So, what have I  been doing?

Well there is no shortage of half-finished projects in her  house.

At the bottom of a bag of wool I found a knitting kit my daughter Lynsey gave me, probably six or seven years ago. Well  – it’s almost finished now. Who remembers doing tea cosies like this! I still have sparkles to sew on (obviously this is a posh tea cosy for when the WI Committee come round!)


And it doesn’t end there – I have recently discovered the joys of amigurumi crochet.

I have crocheted for years but not from any pattern. Not any more! Finished a 70cm tall Dragon and would also have finished an equally large pink rabbit if I hadn’t run out of yarn.

I have moved on to a cute little goblin now with no sign of my new love abating. Give it another week.”


I am still making baskets – these are in 10mm macramé rope and not the most gentile or elegant of crafts to crochet in public as it’s more of a fight – but worth the battle in the end.

My family all have one – some of them are wondering what to do with them.

I am sure they will find a use now.

MOYRATalking of family, I am in the very lucky position of sharing my self-isolating space not just with my lovely long-suffering husband but also with our aforementioned daughter, Lynsey.

Lyns is a regular at many C&CC workshops and a keen online crafter having recently completed one for an Easter wreath.

It sounded great fun if the laughter from the kitchen was anything to go by.

She also crochets and is a keen pom-pommer, and is about to start a giant basket in natural rope to be decorated with pom-poms.

Now over to Fiona for an update on her crafting


I have been knitting for my great niece, yes I know I look too young to be a great auntie!!

But she is to the gorgeous Charlotte and new baby Troy.

Here is the picture of the cardigan and matching hat for Charlotte, hopefully it will be worn on Easter Sunday.


I have also just finished a  crewel work cushion for a friend’s birthday present.

I really love crewel embroidery and am hoping over the next few weeks to start on Crewel work Christmas cushions.

Yes thinking about Christmas as I try to make as many as I can,  I really enjoy making them and do hope that my friends like receiving them.

In between I too found some cotton wool at the bottom of the cupboard and am hoping I have enough to crochet Meghann, my daughter, a top for the summer.

Cookery Update

This recipe is courtesy of Sue Johnson of Elsenham WI.

Sue is a keen cook and I asked her if she had a recipe for us that was delicious and would not test too far our limited shopping choices, and items we might have in our larders and freezer.  Sue, who has a regular cookery page in the local village magazine, came up with a fabulous Kedgeree. Many thanks to Sue.



½ lb (¼kg) smoked haddock, filleted

2 tablespoons (2 x 15ml) butter

½ lb (225g) long grain rice, cooked

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon (1 x 5ml) garam masala or curry powder

2 hard boiled eggs, quartered

2 tomatoes, quartered

Freshly chopped parsley to finish

Poach the haddock gently in water to cover until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Test with a fork; the flesh should flake easily. Drain, remove the skin and any bones, and flake with a fork.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the rice and haddock and heat through, stirring gently. Season well with black pepper and garam masala or curry powder. Transfer to a hot serving platter and garnish with quarters of egg and tomato. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Gardening Round-Up

Hazel has been very busy in her garden catching up on the weeding and has this tip for ensuring gorgeous roses in the Summer.

It is still not too late to prune the roses, if they are in leaf it feels brutal but they quickly catch-up and flower better for it.  The same applies to the beautiful colour stems of the cornus, just cut about a third of the stems down to about 2/3 inches chosing the oldest stems, which can be used to form new plants or saved and dried to use as canes.

Back to Moyra

I am sure many of you are using the time well and getting out into your gardens. I have been working at the allotment and will continue to do so while I still can.  I have moved all of my seedlings from the greenhouse I have there to a temporary mini greenhouse at our house. Well, that was the plan but after this morning’s snow shower (just shows how far north Elsenham actually is!), these have been moved into the relative warmth of the garage.

And just to end – as our allotment is not very picturesque at the moment, some photos from late summer last year. Hopefully we will have lots of these little helpers this summer.

Best wishes to all of you.

Stay safe.


Cookery & Creative Crafts Committee