Eyelets (the junior branch of EYES) ran for 34 years until the covid pandemic of 2020 made it unviable & the decision was made to close it down.
The group was started in 1986 when a group of mums who belonged to EYES at the time decided that a holiday sewing club would benefit all concerned. Initially Jenny Barson, a local textile artist who specialised in delivering workshops to schools, was asked to run a two day session in the autumn half term of 1986. 22 children attended and with the help of mums and EYES members produced some exciting fabric collages.
Prices were set at £1 membership with a £1 meeting fee, a charge that hardly altered throughout the group’s existence!
Following the success of this session a committee was formed & meetings arranged for the three half term holidays & once during the Easter holiday. Help was forthcoming from EYES members in developing ideas and delivering interesting sessions which attracted children & grandchildren of EYES members. Once the group started contributing to the bi-annual EYES exhibition, children with no link to EYES became involved. A competition was launched to produce the logo which continued to be used regularly on correspondence and to advertise the group.
For the 10th anniversary of the group, Jenny was invited back to teach the children during a whole day session. The children worked independently to produce a wide range of items that together formed an ‘under the sea’ display and the attending children were all given a commemorative china thimble. The ‘under the sea’ display was ultimately exhibited at the EYES exhibition which by now was held over a few days at Beverley Minster.
The way the children had worked so independently encouraged the leaders to add in a Christmas workshop where the children worked on a carousel of activities. Thus the format that continued into 2020 was born. The regular holiday workshops encouraged the children to produce an individual piece of work that could be taken home at the end of the meeting, with occasionally a group project added in to make an interesting display at the bi-annual EYES exhibition.
One Sunday or Saturday at the end of November/beginning of December was set aside for a shorter Christmas workshop, where the children could make any number of items and would proudly go home with a bag full of Christmas ornaments and small gifts. The highlight was always Lillian’s card for which there was always a queue to complete.
The price for these workshops was kept low by additional support from EYES and from the Eyelets sales table. Any left over kits from the workshop would be sold at the end of the meeting and this gradually developed into a larger project run mainly by Marjorie & Vera who developed their own simple kits.
Appeals to EYES members for anything needed always resulted in generous donations which continued to be used and often inspired future activities. The leaders prided themselves on giving the children a simple idea which they would then develop with surprising variety and individualism.
In the mid-nineties it was recognised that some of the older members would benefit from more challenge so a secondary group was set up (that became known as Highlights). They met monthly and chose their own project. Patchwork & quilting became the most popular with the first group making a quilt which was ultimately raffled for ‘Children in need’ and exhibited at the Harrogate quilt show.
Subsequently other group quilts were made and exhibited at Harrogate and at the Birmingham Quilt show with some degree of success. Many of these quilts were designed to be hung as a whole but could be separated into individual works of art that the children could keep.
In 2012 the group exhibited at Birmingham individually with Molly winning a First prize:
All through its existence Eyelets continued to produce work for the regular EYES exhibitions with a competition always being developed for children attending the exhibition to become involved with.
Over the years hundreds of children attended the workshops which regularly hosted more than 20 children and the organisers prided themselves on very rarely repeating an activity. Activities ranged from fine stitching to weaving with chunky yarns, fabric painting & tie dying to wet felting, patchwork & quilting to soft toy making. Hopefully some of those children have developed a lifelong interest in fabric crafts.
Hilary Goldsmith (Founder and chairperson of Eyelets 1986-2020)