The Craftaholics group meet every Monday, between 2pm and 4pm, in the Pendragon pub, Llanishen

The Cardiff crafting group knitting woollen nests for rescued baby birds

Craftaholics Cymru, who came together after lockdown, have found some unusual ways to put their skills to good use

SOME Cardiff crafters have found a great use for their skills — knitting woollen nests for rescued baby bids.

Craftaholics Cymru came together a year ago to combat social isolation but have turned their sights to helping local causes, including Caerphilly Bird Rescue.

Carol Gravenor said the knitted nests are “perfect” for baby birds. Credit: Caerphilly Bird Rescue

Caerphilly Bird Rescue have received thousands of wool nests over the years, including from Spain, but they’re always looking for more.

Carol Gravenor, who opened the sanctuary with her husband 17 years ago, said: “You get a bird in and think, ‘what do I do now?’

“You can’t cut material, unless it’s a fleece, because when you cut it, it has a frayed edge. That cotton can get trapped around their feet.

“These wool nests are sturdy. There are no raw edges, no bits hanging out. They’re just perfect.”

Catherine Williams, of Llanishen, who founded the Craftaholics in January 2022, said the group was also knitting baby hats for the neonatal unit in Heath Hospital, and baby clothes for the Turkey and Syria earthquake appeal.

“Others are crocheting flowers to decorate Barnardo’s charity shop window for Mothers’ Day,” she said.

Catherine Williams set up the group in January 2022, to help tackle social isolation after Covid-19. Credit: Alexandra Bánfi

What else are the Craftaholics doing?

Member Lainey Clayton is currently knitting wool hats for homeless charities to hand out to rough sleepers in Cardiff.

 “There are a lot of rough sleepers here, and I know some shelters close their doors when they get full so some people are left outside,” said Ms Clayton.

“I’m working on my first beanie. But Catherine will flag the request for beanie hats on Facebook and ask if people want to make a wool beanie hat, any size or colour, or donate wool.”

Since its inception, the group has grown to 34 members, thanks to Facebook. Fifteen of these meet every Monday in the Pendragon pub in Llanishen, to chat and craft.

The group also hold craft fairs across Cardiff, to raise money for charities. Their next one is at St Andrews Methodist Church, Caerphilly Road, on Saturday, March 11, between 2pm and 4pm.

‘We compare ourselves to the Men’s Shed’

Members liken the group Men’s Shed, a charity which sets up social clubs across the UK for men to get together, undertake DIY projects and talk about their mental health.

“Some of the group don’t go out from one Monday to another. We made the group just after Covid-19, so a lot them hadn’t gone out at all during that time,” said Ms Williams.

“What we’re trying to do is help people socialise. We’ve got disabled people here as well, some of them come in with sticks and their mobility is poor.

“We compare ourselves to the Men’s Shed. They meet up regularly to be social and for good mental health.”

The Craftaholics was first started to help tackle social isolation after Covid-19. Credit: Alexandra Bánfi

Unlike the Men’s Shed, however, the Craftaholics aren’t yet a charity and so don’t receive any funding.

“We would like a hall for our meet ups, but we don’t have any money to rent it,” said Ms Williams.

What is Men’s Shed Cymru?

The above map is as accurate we could make it with the information available on the Men’s Shed Cymru website. Some of the Men’s Sheds will be in the general vicinity, if there is not a full listed address.

The first official Men’s Shed in Wales was the Squirrel’s Nest, in Bridgend. Robert Visintainer joined the group in 2009 and is now project manager for Men’s Shed Cymru.

“We were a Men’s Shed before we even realised what a Men’s Shed was,” he said.

“They meet every day, working shoulder to shoulder, making things, and talking. It’s amazing to hear the stories they tell. I’ve heard personal stories and tragedies.

“The Men’s Shed gives them a reason to get up in the morning.”

Robert Visintainer said joining the Men’s Shed as a charity opened door for his Bridgend group. Credit: Men’s Shed Cymru

Despite some Men’s Sheds being open to women, it is predominantly aimed at men. There is no organised, nationwide equivalent for women.

Mr Vistainer said anyone wanting to set up a Men’s Shed group can get advice on how to become a charity from the network’s county voluntary council so they can apply for funding.

“When funders are giving out money, they want to be assured that there is good governance, and the money is going to spent properly.”

Mr Visintainer said any group looking to become a charity, similarly to Men’s Shed, could approach Cardiff Third Sector Council for advice. There is also a downloadable Men’s Shed Cymru toolkit.

“The best piece of advice I can give is make sure they have fun, and it doesn’t become a burden,” he added.

  • If you would like to get involved with the Craftaholics, you can visit their Facebook page here.