Did you know that crochet was “an integral part of the life on a working narrowboat”? I didn’t until recently when I read about a new crochet exhibition that has opened up at the National Waterways Museum in the UK’s Ellesmere Port.
The National Waterways Museum
The National Waterways Museum is a boat museum in the UK that was first opened in the 1970’s. It is located in the historic canal parts of Ellesmere Port and is designed to not only show off boats but also to preserve the way of life related to the boat history of the region. The goal is to “tell the story of Britain’s canals and waterways” through exhibits.
The Coffee and Crochet Group
There is a crochet group that meets at the cafe of the National Waterways Museum every Tuesday morning. The group, called The Coffee and Crochet Group, launched in 2009. They crochet blankets, lace and other items for the boats that are on display at The National Waterways Museum. These are the people who made the works that are currently on exhibit at the museum. The yarn and crochet hooks are provided by the museum and the volunteers get free tea and coffee in exchange for their creations, which they donate to the museum.
The group welcomes new members. They are happy to teach new members to crochet if necessary and they also try to teach new techniques to each other at the meetings.This is one of the few groups like this that I know of that are crochet-only (as opposed to knit and crochet or general crafting) so that’s kind of fun to learn about.
The Crochet Exhibit
The work of The Coffee and Crochet Group is currently on display as an exhibit at the National Waterways Museum. The display is a collection of the blankets and cushions that the group has made throughout the year. This is the second year in a row that their work is on display. Although I think that the blankets look beautiful from what I’ve seen online, I’d be curious to see more of the lacework that the group does, which doesn’t seem to be a part of this particular display. To me it seems like this would be the more traditional crochet work that was originally done on the boats, although I can’t say that for sure as I know very little about this sector of history. Perhaps I should visit the museum one day to learn more!
Crochet on Narrowboats
Like I said, I don’t know a lot about the history of crochet on canal boats. However, I did do some online research after learning about this exhibit and found a great article by Elizabeth Bryant on the topic. Find the article here but first enjoy this quote:
“During those long days of relentless toil, it must have been therapeutic for a woman to be able to tuck the tiller of the boat she was steering in the crook of her arm, and get out her latest piece of lace and crochet hook. Boats have even been steered ‘by foot’, whilst the boatwoman sat on the cabin roof and crocheted!”
Is this a crochet exhibit you would be interested in visiting if you could?