The Monthly interviews Miriam Coulter, Anne McCann and Ruth Boyd from Fivemiletown’s Crafty Connections

Could you tell The Monthly’s readers a bit about your group?

Miriam Coulter

Everything started with a crochet group that we put together at The Craft Market in Fivemiletown. There was quite a bit of interest from people who had approached Ruth (Boyd) and they wanted to learn to crochet and that set things off.

I have a group now that meets twice a week, and the group has been going for almost 5 years. We’ve never had any funding, we just work away by ourselves, and it is a great social group as well as a learning group. We all get on really well. We do activities together, wee outings and things like that; there’s great camaraderie between all the women.

Anne McCann

I worked with Josh from Community Arts Partnership on another project in Fermanagh called the Brilliant Resilience project. Josh reached out to us regarding a funding opportunity, and me, Miriam and Ruth decided to come together, to bring our different abilities, strengths and our teaching styles together. We knew the need was there because after Covid, people were starting to come back out again, but then the Cost of Living crisis hit everyone. There were discussions in the group about whether people could afford to keep coming, because the cost of petrol was going up and other prices were rising, so we came up with the idea of offering free classes, if we could get funding for them. We wanted to keep this group of people together who had supported each other so well through all the difficulties we had been through recently and Josh helped with advice about funding.

We dreamt up this idea of Crafty Connections, because originally we were a craft group but we realised that the connections which were being made within that group were vital. There were friendships being made, there were older people who were getting social connections and even some of the younger people were also making friends and having a social element to their participation.

What are the groups called?

Miriam Coulter

My group is called Crochet Corner and Ruth has a group called Vintage Ladies. And there are connections with other groups as well. The name came about so that we could all come together to work on this project.

Ruth Boyd

Miriam and Ann co-ordinated this whole project with me. I run a craft shop in Fivemiletown with another lady and the other part of the building where the shop is located, is a community area. The shop has material which we would use in our classes and that means we can access material that you might not have immediate access to.

Miriam Coulter

The building is an old Butter Market and it is now set up in a series of units with a communal area.

Are you all trained facilitators?

Miriam Coulter

No, we are people who had a passion for our craft and we worked away at what we loved doing.

Do you think crafting has had a bit of resurgence lately?

Miriam Coulter

It has always been popular but it did seem to be seen as something older ladies did and it had an element of the taboo about it, but the fashion world has taken up crochet and that has meant that it has became popular with younger people. There is a sense that this is part of a fashion trend and so that means that younger people are learning how to crochet.

It is very important when younger people get on board because skills that might have been lost are going to be saved. It might be that Covid and lockdown had something to do with that because people were in the house and there were materials lying about and people might have looked up online videos and started to get an interest.

Do you think that there is something in the fact that it is not part of the digital world. That you are actually learning a skill and there is the social element as well?

Anne McCann

I think that is something I noticed, that people are not on their phones during the classes. But it isn’t completely disconnected, because Miriam kept the group together during Covid using WhatsApp and she would send out messages to everyone. People connect in a number of ways, but in the classes it seems to be on a deeper level because people are face to face interacting with each other. And they are creating together.

Ruth Boyd

We have all ages involved, from 8 year olds to older ladies, we have people from all generations and backgrounds. This does seem to feed into the shop, because I find that people of all ages are coming in and they are buying lots of interesting pieces. Everything from the classes to the connections people are making seems to work together.

Miriam Coulter

The other thing you get is that people say they are not arty, or they can’t draw or paint, but with a little bit of encouragement they can really produce something really beautiful. In fact I think everyone has really surprised themselves at what they have been able to create.

Anne McAnn

We have used nature as a theme throughout this project, the colours and the styles are all connected to the beauty we have around us. Miriam has used that in her selection of colours for people to work with in their crocheting and myself and Ruth are using plants and flowers in our work. We want people to look at nature and the beauty around you. You don’t need to go away overseas, or go to an art gallery to be able to see things of beauty;

it really is all around you. We are trying to ground people to appreciate what they have around them. And Miriam is skilled in pulling together the colours, Ruth is skilled in designing fabulous embroidery projects and I can add in some felting to enhance what people are creating.

Is it possible for people to get involved in this project?

Anne McCann

We are putting the information out there, and we do all sorts of classes, not just crochet, and we hope that we can do more projects if we can get more funding. We are reaching out to say that we are not only teaching crafts but there is a health element as well and the Public Health Agency is on board and that is because our activities improve everyone’s well being.

The Craft Market – Fivemiletown Facebook and instagram
Craft and Crochet Corner (Crafty Connections) facebook
Mico facebook and Instagram
The Crafty Doll x – Facebook and instagram
Revamped by Ruth – facebook and instagram

For more information on Crafty Connections see the following links: and

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.