A stitch in time – Craft during COVID

Members at a rug-making workshop before Covid. Rug workshops are now running on the last weekend of each month

If you started ‘crafting’ during lockdown and are on the lookout for more creative projects, look no further than The Nest Community in Everton Park. Here you can enjoy weekly low-cost sewing, ‘Learn to Crochet’ or Knit classes with the sustainable crafters.

The Nest Community is founded on the principles of ‘craftivism’ that celebrates the social benefits of making by hand, sharing skills and empowering through creativity. Since 2014, it has fulfilled its purpose of providing a safe and supportive environment for women of all ages to connect through craft. But, as a self-funded, not-for-profit community organisation, their future looked bleak when they had to temporarily close their doors during the March lockdown. Thanks to the support of local businesses and organisations – NOW Business Networking, Burson Auto Parts, Alderley Automative, Road Boss Rally Group, Black Bear Investments and Bunya Lions Club – they were able to open a shop front for their social enterprise, The Nest Haberdashery Thrift Shop, and continue to trade during the pandemic.

Some volunteers nutting out ideas at The Nest

The concept for the Haberdashery evolved organically over the years as people started bringing in their excess craft supplies to support low-cost workshops.
‘When I first started teaching craft workshops I had to buy new materials to run them, which went against my sustainability ethos and also prevented me from offering them at the low-cost scale we do now,’ says Nest Community CEO and Co-Founder, Ms Roz Fenson.

Gradually, The Nest Community started to receive donations from deceased estates or makers wanting to clear out their stash – people who wanted to recycle rather than dump craft supplies in landfill. As donations have increased, so too has The Nest Community’s sustainability impact. All of their craft workshops and range of handmade products are resourced using diverted materials, plus they distribute diverted craft supplies to over 20 other charities around Brisbane.

Even though it was only open 12 hours a week, the Haberdashery became the community’s primary income source in recent years. However, the Haberdashery didn’t have a permanent home and it was very time consuming for volunteers to move and unpack the stock each day.

‘We made plans to create a more permanent set-up under the house, but needed the support of local businesses to bring plans to fruition,’ reveals Ms Fenson.

Jennifer Spencer, a haberdashery volunteer.

The Nest Haberdashery Thrift Shop was open for trading in January 2020 and sales were already doing well. And then COVID-19 hit.

Ms Fenson says, ‘Just when we were on a roll with longer opening hours, we suddenly had to close our doors until we could work out how our customers could shop and stay safe. We really didn’t know how it would affect demand.’

Fortunately, demand for yarn (wool and knitting supplies) increased dramatically as people looked for off-line activities to fill in their time. But it hasn’t just been people looking for a crafty pasttime, some customers have been turning craft into a business.

‘One young woman, who had lost her job in hospitality, came into the Haberdashery and bought all of our upholstery fabric – which sells for around 75% less than recommended retail. She started making pot plant holders to earn a living and along the way, she has created a product that is made from materials that otherwise would have gone into landfill. She’s going really well!,’ says Ms Fenson.

With Queensland now opening up and restrictions easing, The Nest Community have recently announced that their popular craft workshops are back. As a way of giving back to the community for the support in recent months, and to support people in their newfound craft endeavours, they have introduced two weekly low-cost classes.

The low-cost Learn To Sew workshops are held every Saturday 10am – 12pm and will teach beginners the basics of threading, adjusting and maintaining a sewing machine. If you attend on a weekly basis, you will be able to progressively acquire new skills with different projects, like making a produce bag or a patchwork cushion cover.

If yarn is more your game, buy a ball of wool and some needles or a hook from the Nest Haberdashery and their master crafters will guide you through the start-up phase every Saturday with Learn to Crochet and Knit workshops from 2-4pm.

The fully stocked haberdashery shop at The Nest Community

All of the Nest Community workshops are facilitated by volunteers with a passion to share their knowledge and are structured to encourage intergenerational social connection to build confidence and resilience. Many of their workshops are inspired by sustainable handmade living and include rag rug making, shibori tie-dying, Mexican embroidery, bento bag making and kokedama.

Workshop places are limited, so bookings are essential. For more information, go to www.nestcommunity.org.au and sign up to their newsletter or follow them on social media to snap up a thrift shop treasure.

The Nest Haberdashery Thrift Shop is open Wednesday to Friday 10am – 1pm and Saturdays 10am – 4pm.

 

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