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Where to see Christmas 2020 yarnbombing postbox toppers in Hertford

PUBLISHED: 17:50 22 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:01 22 November 2020

The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Hertford Christmas tree baubles. Picture: Anne Haworth

Anne Haworth

Christmas yarnbombing creations have returned to the county town thanks to the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters.





Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Christmas tree yarnbombing creations. Picture: Anne HaworthSecret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Christmas tree yarnbombing creations. Picture: Anne Haworth

Once again the SSOHC has combined a festive activity, to bring the Christmas spirit to Hertford and Ware residents, shoppers and businesses, with raising money for two local charities, Carers in Herts and Citizens Advice Bureau, East Herts.

Members of the crafting society have yarnbombed 40 Royal Mail postboxes with festive toppers – 27 in Hertford, 11 in Ware plus one shop as the Post Office in Martins has had to close, one in Watton-at-Stone, and another in Van Hage Garden Centre.

You can find the locations of them all on the SSOHC website at www.ssohc.co.uk

Some of the themes include the 12 Days of Christmas, nativity, elves and gnomes, postmen and women, Father and Mrs Christmas, and angels and carol singers.

Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Christmas yarnbombing creations. Picture: Anne HaworthSecret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Christmas yarnbombing creations. Picture: Anne Haworth

Organisers will be sharing photographs of all of them on the SSOHC website and social media so you don’t have to make a special journey to see them.

Due to COVID restrictions, members haven’t been able to run their normal meetings this year where they discuss all things woollen, update on latest projects, natter and drink copious cups of tea.

Instead, they have worked socially distanced in small groups on the Christmas project, one for each postbox, with each party led by a COP (Coordinator of Postboxes).

COPs were responsible for briefing their theme to their team, and encouraging them to design and make items which were combined to make up the total concept.

The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne HaworthThe Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne Haworth

Central to this idea is a large Christmas tree on top of each postbox, each one about 90cm high.

It’s been no mean feat covering the tree forms in beautiful woollen, tinsel or rags to make them look festive.

Jo Baily, one of the founder members, said: “Not being able to have meetings for most of the year meant we needed an alternative approach to achieve our Christmas project.

“Setting up little groups worked really nicely and members got to know each other in a different way.

The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne HaworthThe Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne Haworth

“WhatsApp messages, weekly emails and a couple of ‘how to do it’ films have helped us all stay together.

“This year’s theme allows social distancing to be observed, and combined with the amazing support from Royal Mail, means that for yarnbombers, Christmas has arrived.”

Jo added: “The aims of SSOHC are to bring joy, create community spirit and raise funds for local charities.”

If you would like to donate to this year’s Christmas campaign, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/YarnBomberXmas

The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne HaworthThe Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne Haworth

• So who are The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters?

The SSOHC is a group of around 130 members who have a wide range of crafting skills, from novice knitters to capable crocheters, fabulous felters to quality quilters.

The group formed in January 2017 and its yarnbombing installations have included the poignant poppy cascade at Hertford Castle in 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World war, Enchanted Wonderland in summer 2019, and Hertford’s Advent Christmas Tree last year.

The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne HaworthThe Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Hertford baubles. Picture: Anne Haworth

Members have reused 361 items from past Christmas events for this year’s effort, including 15 postbox top liners.

Residents may also recognise a few elves and gnomes, a nativity scene, and Nutcracker characters.

The 248 baubles on the four bauble trees are in their third year of reuse. Their original home was in Paul Smith’s Christmas window in 2018.

These were then used on the yarnbombers’ Advent Christmas Tree in Hertford in 2019.

A map of the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Hertford post boxes. Picture: suppliedA map of the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Hertford post boxes. Picture: supplied

SSOHC member Nikki King said: “Making the Christmas tree projects has introduced me to four members of yarnbombers I did not know or know very well.

“It has given lots of laughter when arranging the characters onto the tree and bringing out the child in me when hiding the 10 lords a leaping in the garden!”

Meanwhile, Joyce Wells said: “Working on this project without our normal meetings in lockdown has proved that we have a solid group that can overcome adversity.

“Through our Zoom meetings I have got to know other members of our society that I would not normally see very often. It has also kept me sane!”

A map of the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters' Ware post boxes. Picture: suppliedA map of the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters’ Ware post boxes. Picture: supplied

The yarnbombing event has also been a lifeline for some members during the lonely days of lockdown.

Jean Skinner said: “Working on the Christmas project helped me pass the long hours away while I was in hospital for many weeks over lockdown.”

“I knitted the family of carol singers to keep me company when I couldn’t see real family,” said Enid Wormald.

Paula Hills added: “Working on this project kept my mind active as well as my hands, and I also met some new ladies from other groups.”

Sue Boyle explained: “Making things for yarnbomber projects has encouraged me to unleash the ‘inner crafter’ I didn’t even know I possessed and I have discovered a wonderful live and online fellowship. Possibly the most positive aspect of lockdown that I have experienced.”

• So how much time and effort went into the 2020 Christmas project?

Christmas Tree 2020 project statistics:

37,400 – Sections of fabric on rag trees

7,210 – Cups of tea and coffee consumed

1,435 – Metres of woollen paper chains

960 – Green squares on wool trees

524 – Hours spent on each tree on average

361 – Upcycled items

248 – Baubles on the four bauble trees

229 – Woollen lights

168 – Metres of knitted tinsel wool on tinsel trees

164 – Metres of wire securing trees and figures

130 – Members

104 – Stars

41 – Trees

34 – Coordinators of Postboxes (COPs)

24 – Different craft skills

1 – Partridge in a pear tree

1 – Nativity scene.

• List of 24 craft skills

Appliqué

Bead work

Cricut

Crochet

Cutting

Felt work

Hand embroidery

Hand sewing

Knitting

Knotting

Machine embroidery

Machine sewing

Metalwork

Paper piecing

Patchwork

Photography

Plastic canvas work

Quilting

Ragging

Soldering

Stuffing

Weaving

Woodwork

Wrapping.


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