The idea for Pimm's & Needles was born during a discussion at one of Charlotte's sewing classes with a group of like-minded ladies as we chatted each week about how nice it was to meet up and try something new, whilst enjoying a cuppa and a slice of cake. We found it to be a wonderful tonic for the soul and a great opportunity to get a bit of much needed escapism.
Following this we did lots of planning, had plenty of discussions, drank more tea and ate more cake and finally we decided to just go for it and start our own little group and see where it lead. So in September 2015 Charlotte & Donna, along with lots of help and support from friends and a newly formed committee, opened our door at The Mustard Tree Cafe in Hurworth hoping for 20-30 ladies to arrive that might like to join us...and we were blown away by the queue of almost 70 ladies that were outside waiting to come in!
It was completely overwhelming and whilst it made planning our activities a little bit more difficult we embraced it as a challenge. Initially we had some discussion about potentially joining the Woman's Institute, but after running successfully on our own for 3 months we asked our members to vote, and they were largely in favour of us running as we were, as an independent ladies group and so we continued.
After each meeting we were getting messages on our Facebook page from more ladies that wanted to join us, the waiting list just kept growing. So in June 2016 we opened another group in Darlington at a larger venue where we were able to accommodate the full waiting list and have room for a few more. We posted a link for ladies to book online and were once again overwhelmed when all of the 90 memberships were sold out within 24 hours.
The feedback from our members was fantastic, with ladies telling us how much our sessions had helped them gain confidence, make new friends and learn exciting new skills. We continued to receive a constant stream of messages from ladies who had heard about the groups and wanted to join. However in order to grow and develop we felt we needed to formalise things and we took the opportunity to become a Community Interest Company.
Fully registered we were able to launch group number three, Aycliffe Village launched in April 2017 once again was embraced by the community and after the first meeting was fully subscribed. Groups in Barnard Castle, Northallerton and Durham have since followed with many more in the pipeline.
Charlotte Pyrah is textile designer, sewing teacher and author of several sewing & crafting books. Mum of two little boys, Charlotte enjoys weekends away with her family in her vintage caravan, a good game of poker, mojitos and most things floral!
Donna is a designer / maker with a background in candle making and upcycling. In her free time Donna loves sewing, camping, festivals, gin and glitter!