August 23, 2014

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By artist Sara Worley

The main mission of this project was to smother a beach hut in marvellous multi-coloured knitting and crochet made by the craftspeople of Herne Bay for the towns festival on August 23rd and 24th 2014.

I origianally put the idea on Twitter on New Years Day and the immediate response was incredible, the Herne Bay Times picked up on the project straight away and published an article about it in their January 9th edition. I then set up a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/beachhutcosy , which enabled information about the project to be shared and photographs of participants work to be seen by everyone. The owner of the Herne Bay knitting and crafts shop Through The Loop, Sarah Forwood, kindly offered to be the drop off point for all the woolly wonders that people were making for the project and as I live in Maidstone I went down to collect the work every few weeks and I was always totally amazed at the brilliant things people had made. The enthusiasm for this project by local residents was incredible! I also printed up some leaflets and posters with the project info on.

The main body of the Cosy was constructed from woolly oblongs measuring 5″ X 9″ which were made to any colour and design, about 700 oblongs were used in the making of The Cosy and these provided an encyclopedia of knitting and crochet stitches which showcase the imense talent of the craftspeople working on this project . I endeavored to put the makers name on at least one item they had made and about 55 people took part. The Cosy was sewn together my myself in my flat which was quite a big job as the roof section alone measures 9.5ft X 8ft ! People also made an array of brilliant seaside characters that included: fish, octopi, RNLI men, mermaid, turtle, penguin, lighthouse, crabs and an ice cream cone, these added a huge fun element to an already very colourful project.

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On Saturday August 23rd at 8am Karen Simpson, Bryan Nicholls and myself spent two hours putting The Cosy on to Hut 136 for the first time and as soon as we began work passers by were saying how amazing it was ! , by 10am the local press were photographing The Cosy and people were arriving (including people who had worked on the Cosy) to see the woolly wonder. We took down The Cosy at about 4pm and stored it overnight, then put it back on again at 8am the next morning.

Over the two days at Hut 136 an estimated 250 people per day stopped by to admire and smile at The Cosy and their feedback was very very positive….including a group of 30 people from Belgium who came by on Sunday afternoon. The hut was perfectly placed for this project as the front and back are easily accessible and even the roof could be viewed from the grass verge at the back, the sides could also be seen, although this was a bit of a squeeze! We also ran learn to knit/crochet workshops from the hut.

There was zero budget and zero funding for this project so it was only made possible by the hard work of all the craftspeople who volunteered to contribute and their work was seen by many many more people than would have been the case in a gallery. One of the objectives was to raise the creative profile of the town of Herne Bay and this we achieved by having the name of the town on the front and back of The Cosy, photographs of The Cosy have gone global and have been sent all over the UK and also to Brazil, USA, Malaysia, Belgium, France, Japan and New Zealand to name a few. Photographs have also been shared on the internet by national magazines such as Coast, Mollie Makes, Let’s Knit etc.

Sallyann Baxter who worked on The Cosy was so inspired by the project that she will be decorating her Mini in a similar way and driving it in the Herne Bay Carnival 2015.

Due to the massive sucess of this project and all the hard work that went into it we would very much like to put The Cosy back on Hut 136 next summer!

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People United’s Beach Hut 136 is available for individuals and community groups to use free of charge. Please visit our Beach Hut page for more information.

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