yarn shop newtownabbey belfast

This month we are having a yarn (see what we did there!?) with the lovely Emma Gibson from Flock Belfast, who gets wonderfully involved with The Yarn Patch, and leads several of our crochet workshops in both our Merville and Holywood shops, which you can find more info on, here.

Emma uses her amazing crafty skills to teach crochet classes, workshops and courses for adults, children, beginners or experts. She loves yarn and crochet probably as much as we do! So we got up close and personal, and asked her some questions so that she could share a little bit about herself…

yarn shop newtownabbey belfast

Emma modelling her own Dr Who knitted scarf

So, how long have you been crocheting?

I learnt to crochet about 10 years ago with my best friend, a YouTube video and a bottle of red wine! It was a very giggly evening, mainly because the woman on the video had a bit of a wind problem and kept burping! It took a long time to grapple with the basics, because we had to keep pausing and rewinding the video. But we were determined not to give up. I’m glad we didn’t!

What inspired you to teach others to crochet?

Well, for a start my own terrible learning experience! YouTube is great if you have time and patience

yarn shop newtownabbey belfast

Albus the cat posing with Emma’s work in progress!

but I always wished I could find someone to teach me hands on. Several years and lots of video watching and red wine later and another friend said “now you’ve mastered it, why don’t you just teach others?” My first lessons were scary, but I soon realised that people were there because they wanted to love the craft as much as I do and its been such a privilege to facilitate a new skill in others and see friendships develop over the years.

What do you find challenging about teaching others?

I think adults are generally a bit rubbish at allowing themselves to be beginners at anything! We have such high expectations of ourselves and get annoyed if something isn’t easy the first time. So for me, the biggest challenge is managing expectations. But the reward is that ‘light bulb’ moment when something suddenly makes sense. And I never give up on anyone! I don’t think there is anyone from my classes who hasn’t achieved something!

What is your favourite thing about The Yarn Patch?

It’s a weird admission, but even after crocheting all these years, I’ve never actually taught in a yarn shop! For me, a wool shop is like a sweetie shop for grown-ups so I can’t wait to be surrounded by a rainbow of joy and in such a stunning venue! I may have to hide my credit card from myself though. Also of course its a dream to work Sam and her team, an incredible energetic and enthusiastic bunch of fellow crafters with more wool knowledge than I could shake a stick at.

yarn shop newtownabbey belfast

A hula hoop mandala made by Emma using her own pattern.

What is your favourite type of wool project?

That’s hard to choose, as on average I have 4, 5 or 6 things on the go at the same time. It depends on my mood, what classes I am teaching and what’s on the telly (tip… don’t try to crochet during Line of Duty!!) But generally, my favourite type requires multiple trips to a good wool shop and lots of floof squishing…know any good ones?!

Where is your favourite place to crochet?

At home, I have a special chair. It’s mustard yellow and next to a disco ball. However, my favourite NI place to crochet has to be in the passenger seat of our car, feet on dashboard, flask of coffee steaming up the windows looking out from Portballintrae car park towards the sea.

What advice would you give to an absolute beginner?

I would say allow yourself to enjoy the process of learning and creating as well as the joy of the end goal. It’s not a race!

yarn shop newtownabbey belfast

Amigurumi Cactus Pin Cushion by Emma

Someone else’s piece will always be less floppy, more floppy, further on, neater than yours. But you can bet they will be thinking exactly the same.

What do you think is the best age for a child to start learning crochet?

I have taught children from 8 years old, but its hard! Unless they are sitting with a relative and crocheting regularly every week that’s just too young. But kids are never too young to enjoy the colours and textures of wool, maybe by making pompom creatures or yarn art. Unless you’ve a really keen child I think 10 is a better age for crochet, when their dexterity and focus are a bit more established. But I would never discourage anyone of any age.

Tell us some more about your other hobbies or crafts that you enjoy.

I sing in a choir, I write, I knit, I sew, I bake, I even play a few instruments! I love to grow veg, make clay things, and sketch a bit too – it drives my family mad (but I think secretly ,they like it!)

yarn shop newtownabbey belfast

Monk the Monkey, an amigurumi commission for a local special needs teacher

Finish with one totally random fact that will surprise us.

Believe it or now, I’ve sung live for Louis Walsh, Michelle Visage and Denise Van Outen.

We can’t wait to welcome Emma to our workshops very soon for a range of classes. If you want to connect further, you can find Emma on Instagram or on Facebook for more information on her amazing makes!