News of a model village knitted in wool, which was funded by the Housing Executive, has made headlines not just in Northern Ireland but also in America.
Cloughmills Crochet Club has been astounded by the attention their wool creation has attracted.
Members of the close knit County Antrim group have been interviewed by national and local media and now their story has reached American online magazine, Atlas Obscura, based in New York.
May Aitcheson, from the crochet club, said members can’t believe how this project has taken off.
“We’re both surprised and delighted!” she said.
She explained: “The idea for the knitted village came from members of the club. We wanted to establish a project which would bring people from different cultural backgrounds together, in a bid to address the issues of social interaction and rural isolation while promoting good relations in the area.
“We’re very proud of the fact that our club and the community group is cross community and open to everyone.”
In May of last year the members got together to begin work on the mammoth model of their village.
“The project started off small and then kept growing and growing. Members headed out first with cameras, and then began to craft the houses and other buildings,” said May.
“Everyone in the group did something, even those people who were housebound, knitted little bits and pieces. We created a few sites that no longer exist, including the old shirt factory where many of the members once worked.”
Over a period of seven months the crafting of the buildings came together with the help of cardboard and cereal boxes. Teenagers helped out over the summer months, men made ‘props’ such as fencing, headstones and signage, and the younger generation even donated their toys to authenticate the village.
The knitted village was unveiled before Christmas during a charity coffee morning.
May’s husband Edgar, who runs the Cloughmills Cultural & Historical Society, said: “We were expecting 50 people to turn up and 400 people arrived to see the model village. We raised £3,000 for Macmillan Nurses.”
The members, some 35 women of varying ages, meet every Wednesday morning to knit, exchange stories and enjoy lunch together at the Orange Hall in Cloughmills where the knitted village is on permanent display.
May, who started the local club six years ago, said: “I didn’t realise the club would be so popular, it’s great fun and everyone enjoys coming along. We are delighted this project has created so much energy in the village and surrounding area, it has really put Cloughmills on the map. Everyone is asking what we’re going to do next!
“Thanks so much to the Housing Executive for their generous financial support.”
Housing Executive Area Manager Mark Alexander said: “After being approached by the group with this idea, we were happy to approve funding which enabled the club to reach out and offer community support through crochet and knitting.
“We would like to congratulate the group on this amazing project’s success and I would encourage other community organisations to approach us with their ideas no matter how unusual!”
For more information on community grant applications please contact your Housing Executive district office on 03448 920 900.