Lyndsey Henshaw the crochet lady Short film on Lyndsey the fiber ArtistFiber artist proves she’s made of the right stuff Lyndsey Henshaw was on the verge of closing down her fledgling business when help arrived from an unlikely quarter. Lyndsey, 32, is a fibre artist and fashions bags, clothes and even household items from crochet, knitting and felt. She launched Back to the Hook Collective at the end of 2012 and was selling her one-off pieces, all of which are made by traditional methods, at various fairs and events around North Staffordshire. Then a friend approached Staffordshire Housing Association to see if they could offer Lyndsey any help in dealing with the overheads which were hindering her business’s growth. “It had reached the point where it was becoming demoralising. I was shoveling all my profits back into the business,” said Lyndsey, who lives with daughter Ripley, 11, and partner Paul Kelly at an SHA property in Cherry Tree Road, Chesterton. “I wasn’t sure if I could carry on. But I had a friend who was mentoring me and she approached the SHA on my behalf to see if they could help, and they gave me the step up I needed.” The SHA gave Lyndsey a £250 grant which allowed her to pay for materials and cover some other start-up costs such as business cards and public liability insurance. She also discovered that her work sold better when it was handed over in bespoke bags with labels rather than “screwed up plastic bags from Asda”. “I only found out about the grant by a fluke, but the SHA deserve an enormous pat on the back because they’ve really helped me make a profit rather than losing everything in costs.” Lyndsey said she had always been “quite crafty” and had studied arts and crafts at college but had put her creative talents on the back burner while she brought up her daughter. But her interest revived when a friend suggested they hire a stall at the pop-up markets in Newcastle and she dedicated herself again to her artistic calling – she even taught herself to crochet by an intensive three-week YouTube course! Lyndsey then branched out into felt, sourcing the wool directly from a friend who owned a farm in Leek, and found that her unique and eye-catching pieces were selling better than crocheted items. Her work is also on permanent display at the MADE Lounge outlet for designers at the Quality Hotel in Hanley. “It’s very fulfilling work and I did very well at Christmas, so I really appreciate the help the SHA have given me. They’ve even offered to put me on bookkeeping and business start-up courses, and offered to do some promotion for me,” said Lyndsey.