Textiles expert passes on skills ahead of GrandFest

Celia Dennis with the students
Celia Dennis with the students

A textiles expert from Coldwaltham has been passing on her skills to students ahead of this year’s GrandFest.

Celia Dennis, 73, who is one of this year’s GrandMakers at the GrandFest event, hosted a master class for Textile Design students at Central Saint Martins. She passed on her method of crochet stitching in the hopes that it will give students the confidence and skills to tackle their own projects, as well as discuss how crochet can be incorporated into contemporary clothing.

Now in its’ third year, GrandFest is a one day festival that celebrates older people and their crafts/skills. The festival, held on Sunday, unfolded at various restaurants, pubs, and shops around Spitalfields, with a series of masterclasses – from crochet to lacemaking and bread making to wood turning – hosted by the GrandMakers, all of whom are over 70, passing their heritage skills down to younger generations.

Central Saint Martins partnered with GrandFest, which is run by older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service, to bring older people together with younger students to pass down their knowledge of heritage skills.

As a child, it was Celia’s grandmother who inspired her to try crochet and she remembers sitting at her knee while making decorative table mats. From there, she went on to experiment with making clothes and now regularly makes gifts for family and friends. Celia believes crochet is a great way to relax while creating something beautiful that gives a sense of achievement.

Anne Marr, BA Textile Design course leader at Central Saint Martins, said: “When I heard about GrandFest, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity for the students to learn or expand on their crochet skills from Celia Dennis, one of the GrandMakers. We are always encouraging the students to embrace all opportunities to develop new skills.”

David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We are delighted that GrandFest has partnered with Central Saint Martins to bring together our GrandMakers with the younger students. Celia’s master class is a great way to demonstrate what GrandFest is all about - a day full of activities to celebrate older people and to highlight the importance of keeping active in later life. Celia has been part of GrandFest since the beginning, and we are delighted that she is able to share her crochet skills to the students.”

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