Fence posts might not strike you as the appropriate tools for a spot of knitting but a local woman has been creating a bit of a stir with her novel fence post â€˜needlesâ€™, which she is using to make some interesting crafts.
Patricia Cox along with her husband Aaron, runs â€˜The Baldy Sheepâ€™ shop in Longford. The shop has seen some interesting window decoration of late, thanks to Patriciaâ€™s â€˜Fence post knittingâ€™.
â€œItâ€™s something Iâ€™ve always wanted to do,â€ Patricia told the Leader last week.
â€œI like to supersize things anyway and the window always needs something really big because itâ€™s such a big window.
Speaking about the process, Patricia continued, â€œIt took about a week of preparing, you know, getting the wool together and Aaron making the needles.
â€œI sat here on the floor one Saturday afternoon and people [were] coming in and out, and everybody was interested so that was great, because we knew it was going to look good then in the window, and that people would be interested.â€
Fence post knitting aside, there has been a huge resurgence in knitting in recent times.
More and more people are picking up the needles and knitting away, while numerous shops are now stocking a wide variety of beautiful knitwear.
Hand-knit gifts and the traditional Christening gowns are also becoming increasingly popular.
A number of the primary and secondary schools in the area have picked up knitting, and Patricia, who has been knitting from a very young age herself, said that itâ€™s â€˜a great skillâ€™.
â€œTo teach children really young is good because it helps with things, strange things that you wouldnâ€™t necessarily realise like music, because a lot of it is beat, and it would help with mathematics because youâ€™re counting and thereâ€™s the shapes and logic and the working out.â€
Indeed, knitting is used as more than just a hobby throughout the world, as Patricia explained that it is often used for â€œthings like alzheimers, dementia, keeping the brain activeâ€.
Trained in chartered accountancy, Patricia says that she was knitting and designing from a very young age. Designing properly from the age of 27, Patricia has made evening wear, communion wear and even wedding dresses - including her own!
The range of products that can be made by knitting is infinite, something which continues to s urprise customers.
â€œI think a lot of people still think of grannyâ€™s knitting,â€ Patricia admitted.
â€œI think they think itâ€™s quite old-fashioned where really it doesnâ€™t have to be.â€
Hoping that the resurgence continues, Patricia, who is also extremely interested in the mathematical and historical side of knitting, continued, â€œItâ€™d be an awful shame if it [knitting] was lost because itâ€™s a big part of our heritage. Itâ€™s a big part of what Irish people did in the past, you know, to keep themselves warm, to make money.â€
Giving a brief history of knitting, Patricia explained that knitting is thought to have started in Asian countries before being brought by the Crusaders into Europe, where it began taking off in the 1400s. It is also thought to have been started by fishermen.
â€œIt would have been done by men, no women, the women didnâ€™t have time for those sorts of things,â€ Patricia continued.
â€œSailors would have brought it to America because it was something to do on board ship and it gave them something to keep themselves warm when they were finished so a lot of it was very male.â€
This boost in the popularity of knitting of course means exciting times for all at the Baldy Sheep, with talks currently going on with a yarn company who are interested in Patriciaâ€™s patterns.
Welcoming the upturn in craft fairs, Patricia added that â€œthereâ€™s a lot of talent in Longfordâ€, before concluding,
â€œIâ€™m really lucky, I get to stand here and do my favourite thing all day - itâ€™s great!â€