November Monthly Meeting – Jewellery Making

Puckeridge WI jewellery makingIn November we tried jewellery making.

Armed with a beading needle, some findings, a pack of beads and some expert instruction, the room fell quiet whilst we all concentrated on the beading pattern to make a beautiful bracelet and matching pair of earrings each.

Our next meeting is our pre-booked Christmas meal so we will not be at the hall.   If you would like to join us as a new member, our next full meeting will be on January 12th.   Email for more details.

Craft Club

IMG_1131We started our Craft Club a few months ago as a lot of our members are creative with some owning craft businesses.   It was an excuse for like minded members to get together to chat, share ideas and eat cake – just like our main WI meetings!   It is also great to allocate some time every month to some relaxing crafting without life getting in the way.

Various projects are brought each month and we’ve had everything from cross stitch, knitting, sewing, party decorations, and even crocheted boobs!   We also planned a joint pub sign entry for the Hertfordshire Federation WI Centenary craft show.   This involved a mini lesson in patchwork and how to use a rotary cutter.

IMG_1130 (1)Details of dates and times are in our newsletter and Puckeridge WI members are welcome to join in.

Handmade Christmas Fair – November 15th – List of Stallholders

Puckeridge WI Christmas Fair Poster 2015Sunday 15th November from 11am-3pm
at the Standon & Puckeridge Community Centre, Station Road, Puckeridge, SG11 1TF

The Christmas Fair is almost upon us and we have a great line up of local makers, producers, craftspeople and creatives.   There will also be refreshments available for purchase, and a charity raffle to raise money for the Lynsey Ivison Trust.   Bring plenty of money to purchase some unique and original Christmas gifts.

Puckeridge WI – handmade cakes to take away – a range of cards, sewn gifts, pin badges and Christmas decorations

Moggy’s Pickles – delicious pickles and chutneys

Gingham Girl – shabby chic crafts including tooth fairy pillows, wooden signs, Christmas decorations and sewing kits

Gifts Galore – cushions, felt decorations and jewellery

Kathryn Parratt Handmade Jewellery – handmade jewellery using semi-precious stones, handmade glass and swarovski crystals

Handmade Retro – polymer clay jewellery based on retro foods

Beautilicious – sterling silver jewellery and citrus lavender hearts

SAS Crafts – handmade dolls clothes and jewellery

It’s Not Only a Puppet – fabric glove puppets and handmade cards

Clare’s Crafty – chainmail jewellery and beaded Christmas decorations

Stitch by Stitch – rag dolls, fabric bunnies, small wall hangings, quilts, cushions etc.

Linda’s Teddies – quality hand sewn teddy bears

JOG Handknitted – handknitted children’s clothes, mittens, scarves and bags

Blanket – lingerie bags, tote bags, cushions, bunting etc.

Butterfly – handmade cards, stationery, soap, Christmas decorations, accessories etc.

Wild Skin – natural skincare

Knitty Delights – hand knitted toys

Lucy Carr – handmade pottery inspired by nature

Miles of – original prints, pet portraits and photographic services

Standon Knit and Natter – knitted gifts


October Monthly Meeting – In The Pantry

Ian Waller visited in October and gave his talk about the story behind the well known food  brands you find in your cupboards.

He told us about how Cadbury started making chocolate Easter eggs in 1875, and how Dairy Milk didn’t appear until 1905.

Many of the food brands also issued collectibles such as the Robertson’s Jam golly badges, the Brooke Bond tea cards and the Huntley & Palmer ornate biscuit tins, all of which could be worth money on eBay!

Keen & Co made mustard and were bought up by Colmans, but that’s where the phrase “as keen as mustard” comes from.

Ovaltine was invented by a Swiss chemist by mistake.   Leslie Crowther was the first Ovalteenie on Radio Luxembourg and Edmund Hilary drank Ovaltine on Mt Everest.   It was named in honour of the Oval Cricket Ground.

Young’s Seafood was started by Elizabeth Young in 1805 in Leigh, Essex, where the world’s largest deep sea fishing fleet was based at the time.   It wasn’t until 1946 that the frozen food plant opened in Grimsby.

Lots of the brands have been swallowed up by the likes of Kraft Foods, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Unilever now, but a few independents still remain.

Film Club – Suffragette

On 20th October, 3 of us turned up at the Empire Bishop’s Stortford for the first Puckeridge WI film club, which fittingly was a screening of Suffragette.

The film stars Carey Mulligan as a mother, accidentally caught up in the suffragette movement.   She then takes up the cause.

The film takes us through some of the terrible things women of that era went through to secure the rights that women in the UK take for granted in 2015.   It wasn’t just about the right to vote which I previously thought the Suffragette movement was about.   It was also other rights such as to have a legal say over your own children.

The film was very moving, and the atmosphere in the cinema was unlike any I had experienced before.   It was a mainly female audience and everyone was gripped all the way through.   It even got a round of applause at the end.

In the final credits, a list of dates came up showing when various countries around the world gave the vote to all women.   New Zealand was the first in 1893.   The UK gave certain women the vote in 1918, but this was not on a parity with men until 1928.   The date that stood out for me was Switzerland not allowing women to vote until 1971 which is in my lifetime.   And the final date on the list was 2015 with Saudi Arabia still just thinking about allowing women the vote.

Our next film will be The Lady in the Van with Dame Maggie Smith.


September Monthly Meeting – Pointless

Our September meeting was Pointless.   No, we haven’t gone all despondent.   Due to our planned speaker having to cancel at the eleventh hour, we came up with our own version of the TV game show Pointless.   Unfortunately Alexander Armstrong was unavailable so Secretary Louise stepped into his shoes, and we had to make do with the hall’s PC to replace Richard Osman (turned off, just like his laptop on the show).

The quiz was great fun with a wide variety of subjects covered including literature, the Eurovision Song Contest, MPs called Ed, Dave or Nick and the capital cities of Europe.   Great thought and discussion was put into the answers (we allowed conferring), although no one got a pointless answer to win the jackpot (just as well as there wasn’t one!).   We did have cash prizes though in the form of chocolate coins, and thoughts have turned to possibly entering the real thing.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 13th October and new members are welcome.   Your first meeting is free, and more information about what we do and and how to get in touch can be found on our website.

Handmade Christmas Craft Fair – Stallholders Required

We are looking for stallholders to sell at our annual Handmade Christmas Craft Fair on Sunday 15th November 2015.   (Please note we are no longer accepting stallholders with jewellery or cards)
This highly successful event has been running in Puckeridge for several years, and this is the second year that we have been running the fair to showcase local makers and craftspeople.  
The event will be held at the Standon and Puckeridge Community Centre and stalls will cost £20 (with table supplied), or £17 (with own table).   In addition, all WI members from any federation are being offered a 25% discount on the cost of a place.
In addition to the stalls, refreshments will be sold and a raffle will be held to benefit a local charity.
Anyone looking for more details should contact for an application form or can download one below.

July Monthly Meeting – Reel Old Sew and Sew

Reel Old Sew and Sew

We had a very busy meeting in July.   Not only did we have 4 new faces turn up to see what we are all about, we also welcomed 9 ladies from Elsenham WI (Essex Federation) to our monthly meeting.   Following on from a chat with Moyra on Twitter’s weekly #WIHour (Mondays 8-9), Louise invited some of their members to our monthly meeting.   They were a lovely, friendly bunch and came loaded with cake to share after our speaker, who this month was Brenda Harley on how she became a Reel Old Sew and Sew.

Brenda’s talk was interesting, humorous, and surprising in parts.   She explained her family history, her life in a hated office, her “fortunate” encounter with TB, learning to perfect various sewing techniques, developing a business with commissions for frocks for Mrs Smith to frocks for Mr Smith, trying to design diaphanous gowns for “Gasometer” and her sisters, and supplying hares for the greyhound tracks of the UK.   She also showed examples of her work with beautifully pattern matched jackets, insertion lace blouses, raincoats, suits, dresses, skirts and much more.   Another surprise was that most of her fabric was bought from Walthamstow Market and so was really inexpensive.   Brenda was a really great speaker who kept everyone wondering where the twists and turns of her life were going to end up.

We won’t have a monthly meeting in August as we have organised a trip for members to Hitchin Market and then on to lunch at the Lavender Fields.   Our next meeting will be on September 8th when we’ll be hearing from a local mum with an interest in homoeopathy.

Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers – BBC2 20/7/15

After a short delay for the over-running golf, Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers, a celebration of the WI centenary by Lucy Worsley was broadcast on BBC2.

Lucy took us through the history of the WI from it’s origins in Canada, and Madge Watt addressing the local women in the Llanfair PG “shed” on Sept 11th 1915.   Madge Watt insisted on tea at every meeting, supposedly to provide an opportunity for chatting so that no one chatted during the speaker!

Being a member of the WI was the first time many women had a chance to vote in meetings and also to be useful outside of the home in crafting, running markets and making toys, as well as learning and perfecting home skills.   They also started campaigning for improved rural housing which was the first national resolution.

Even though Jam and Jerusalem is a bit of a stereotype, Jerusalem had a radical history in the suffrage movement and transferred over because many suffragettes were also founder members of the WI, and the massive effort towards making WI jam provided 50% of the jam ration at one point.   Campaigning and service to the nation!

Other campaigns in the early years were equal pay, family allowances and a national health service.   They all started as WI resolutions.

In the 1940’s, many women left school at 14 so the newly acquired Denman College was a great way to get better educated, and other benefits such as the liberation of being catered for rather than having to cook for yourself made it a great experience.

By the 1960’s, there was a decline in membership due to more women going out to work and having less time for WI meetings.   The 1970’s brought the Women’s Liberation movement which started in the Oxford Union, and the WI’s polite campaigning became drowned out by the public, more radical demonstrations on many of the same issues the WI had championed over the preceding decades.

The NFWI tried to change their public image with a not-so-catchy song and logo change, but the real progress towards starting to dispel the staid and stodgy image of the WI came with the Calender Girls raising in excess of £4million for Leukaemia Research, and Tony Blair’s patronising joke about a terrifying audience and his overly political speech which was slow hand clapped at the 2000 annual meeting.

Nowadays, “new wave” WI’s such as the Shoreditch Sisters openly promote themselves as radical feminists, something it seems that the WI has been doing since the start!

I don’t think that one hour was long enough.   This could’ve been a series to explore the various elements of the history in more detail.   I enjoyed Lucy Worsley’s coverage of the subject, but trying to fit 100 years into 60 minutes was always going to be a tough ask.

If you missed the programme, it is well worth a watch on the iplayer, and there is also a feature on the BBC iWonder website which features links to other articles on the WI.

June Monthly Meeting – Ceramic Painting

Puckeridge WI Ceramic PaintingSarah of Something to Treasure visited our June meeting with a collection of blank ceramics for members to decorate.   Everyone listened as Sarah described hints and techniques to try, before being set loose on the range of bowls, vases, plates and cups.   Even those who were less than confident in their artistic talents were engrossed in their projects, and a stunning array of work was taken away to be glazed and fired.Puckeridge WI Painted Ceramics