Friday, 25 April 2014

Meet our talented tutors - Racheal Gwilliam of Artyarn - Knitting and crochet


Rachael Gwilliam of Artyarn, who's been heading up our knitting and crochet courses now since 2009. After we stumbled across the 'knitted shed' - see below- nearly 5 years ago, Rachael has taught more willing customers to knit and crochet than we can count.

Shes' a master of the needles and hook, full of creative va-va-voom and her patient, almost one-to-one teaching style gains her some of the highest praise any tutor has received.

We're looking forward to the wooly knitting and crochet starting up again in the autumn, but in the meantime she'll be teaching our customer how to knit jewellery with wire! She's that good...

What first drew you to your craft ?

The first time round it was because my mum would sit and knit at home .. but she'd never finish anything off! I was about 7 and would knot the yarn up almost immediately after mum had fixed my mistakes!

I tried and failed and left it alone for many years. I did enjoy a bit of embroidery at Brownies though. The second time round, at about the age of about 25 - the 'stitch n bitch' phenomenon was just kicking off and I wanted a bit of the action!

What’s your crafting background?

I went to art school and studied painting and drawing, not having much interested in textiles at all. As far as my knitting and crochet skills are concerned I'm completely self taught (with maybe a little one or two nudges from mum and friends who could knit).

I started a knitting club in 2007 as a way to learn more and bring crafters in my local area together - I was living in central Salford at the time and used my local boozer as the venue.

Shortly after becoming very obsessive over knitting I started a small business called ArtYarn, putting my art school knowledge and training in the mix to create art installation and creative workshops. I've since been commissioned by galleries, Museums and creative institutions world wide to create knitting and crochet projects.

What are your main sources of inspiration? 

Nature and my love of drawing. I there are very close connections between my drawing works and how I knit and crochet my projects. I also look at fine needle work, especially in crochet and tatting, from the arts and crafts movement, as I'm quite fond of intricate doily patterns.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career so far? 

Professionally, a few key artists have really inspired me- mainly Magda Sayeg in the early days when I would indulge in a bit of Yarn Bombing. I also love the work of Elaine Bradford, Suzie McMurray and Kate Mcguire.

Personally and professionally, the people who gave me my first teaching jobs, including Sam at Ministry of Craft. The opportunity to teach regularly in a professional environment has meant that I've had to really perfect my skills in both my crafts and in my teaching style. This has given my tremendous confidence , which I was seriously lacking in 5 years ago.

What’s the best thing about being a crafter?
Being able to teach others about your craft and to share crafting skills, which I have always done since becoming freelance.

Do you do any other crafts in your spare time, apart from what you specialize in?
I draw, I'm a fanatical drawer. I also like to do some embroidery.

What’s you’re the best thing you’ve ever made?
A jumper for a garden shed.

Have you ever made a creative mistake?
All the time. Its how you learn, and therefore how you progress on with your work.

And your favourite tool or material?
4mm basic metal crochet hook and come cotton yarn. I like to keep things basic and let the stitches do the magic.

What’s you favourite crafty anecdote / story?
I tried to knit with two pints of beer once. It didn’t work out.

Where can we see / buy your work? 
At either or

What have you got coming up in the future? 

More knitting and crochet courses at ministry of craft, with brand new courses in crochet and knitting socks! The launch of my online shop.

You can find Rachael all over social media (!): on Twitter @artyarn on and her revered yarn based blog -

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