I’m very excited to be featuring Helen’s Story as the first of my guest blog posts about your personal crafting experiences.
“My name is Helen and I’m the dream-maker behind Albion Nights, a hand-crafted, off-grid cabin in rural Norfolk, which is just perfect for getaway staycations, something I’m guessing we’re all very much in need of right now.
Six years ago I relocated from the hustle and bustle of life in London to chase my dream of starting a glamping business, although it wasn’t quite as straight-forward as that makes it sound. I had a dying parent, a husband to convince that this was a good idea, children to placate through the upheaval, school places to find and fight for and, of course, a property to find.
After more than 12 months of searching, I finally found a barn with full planning permission and the most beautiful parcel of land, just crying out for my dream. And so the journey began; living in caravans and converting a barn (try that with teenagers and see how new grey hairs appear just like magic). This wasn’t quite the dream I had in mind but bear with me, it was all part of the process.
The barn project took 2 years, at which point more serious work on my glamping dream could start. Having a plethora of materials quite literally lying around, many of which had formed part of the original structure of the barn, it made sense to me that we should attempt to reuse these. And so the ethos of how the cabin was to be crafted began to take shape. I became the queen of Freecycle, Facebook marketplace, eBay, carboot sales and general rummaging to find lost treasures that could be repurposed, recycled and reused in the creation of the cabin.
The cabin was all set to open for business in April of last year, but the pandemic obviously had other plans for us. I suddenly found myself so close to the finish line, and the tangible feel of starting my new business, when it was whipped away in a flash. The disappointment and frustration at not being able to open was huge.
I needed something to help fill the void and keep me focused on some positives.
As a life-long lover of crafting and making, I’d wanted to learn how to crochet for many years and was incredibly lucky during the time of cabin building to have met Sue. In previous years my Mum and sister-in-law had both tried to teach me, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Sue has such a calm and clear way of imparting her skills that it made the process suddenly click and all make sense.
I was incredibly stressed at this point in my life, trying to build a cabin with zero budget, but encouraged by Sue’s passion around the benefits of crochet on reducing this. Once you’ve learnt the basic skills, in my case kicking the grey matter into action, studies have shown the huge benefits on reducing cortisol levels, lowering blood pressure and the heart rate. I was sold!
The other fantastic benefit for me was community. The coming together of a group of female friends, as this was the group I learnt in, to learn and crochet, all whilst sharing stories, cracking jokes, drinking tea and eating home-baked treats was an incredibly nourishing experience on so many levels. During this time I created my first Homage to the Granny Square blanket. Quite an achievement for someone who’d started the process as a non-crocheter! It’s a bit wobbly here and there and not the neatest in places, but that doesn’t matter.
It really is a thing of beauty that helped get me through some challenging times.
In November, when we found ourselves back in lockdown, I decided that a new blanket project would be just the thing to help get me through the dark times we were experiencing. Once again, Albion Nights had to close its doors and they’ve pretty much remained that way since then. It’s been another period of uncertainty and worry for so many of us small business owners but I’ve felt some joy in having my blanket to work on.
Consequently, I’m close to finishing my second Homage blanket, with completely different colours, creating a completely different feel, all whilst looking after my well-being, and feeling like a much more accomplished crocheter. It’s obviously been a much different process this time round, without the community in person, but the benefits of having something to lose myself in have been wonderful. I can daydream, plan, imagine and hope all whilst counting the stitches as they come round the hook, time and time again. Such a blissful way to while away the day.”
If you’d like to know more about Albion Nights you can: