The Craft Martha (‘kässämartta’) activities are volunteer craft activities with the goal of doing things together, learning new skills, passing traditions on, and teaching skills to other people. The activities started in the Uusimaa region, but today, there are Craft Martha groups in different parts of Finland. In 2015, the Craft Marthas organised 200 events, with more than 5,000 participants. There were 293 Craft Marthas actively involved, and 750 people subscribed to the craft newsletter.
Crafts have always been a part of the Martha Organisation’s activities, and many Marthas are eager and skilled craft enthusiasts. Marthas – both employees of the organisation as well as hobbyist members – are often asked for advice on issues related to crafts. There are no craft advisers working for the Martha Organisation, and professional crafts advice is not within the organisation’s field. The volunteer-led Craft Martha activities complement the professional home economics advice given by the Martha Organisation.
Craft Martha activities offer people a chance to deepen and expand their handicraft hobby and meet other Marthas across organisational borders. Crafts can be a lonely hobby, but the Craft Martha activities offer people communality and the joy of doing things together.
The primary target group of Craft Marthas is the members of the Martha Organisation regardless of their crafts skills, but the activities are open to anyone who is interested. You can come to Craft Martha meetings to study and learn. Even people who are more advanced in their hobby can find new ideas and stimuli, and they also have the opportunity to share their skills with others. One of the goals is implementing the principle of training chains, meaning that the participants of Craft Martha meetings would teach the things they have learnt during the Martha evenings of their own organisations as well as in other events to others.
The main form of Craft Martha activities is the Craft Café (‘Kässäkahvila’) that meets once per month. Its themes have included different kinds of knitting and crochet techniques, using recycled materials, traditional crafts, and lectures by visiting experts. As a rule, the instructors are volunteer Marthas.
Within the framework of Craft Martha activities, people have participated in several charity campaigns and drives, such as knitting socks for the homeless, making shawls for old people’s homes, and knitting baby hats. Information about the activities is sent via e-mail, and it is published on the blog and the Facebook group. The materials distributed at the events are free to use.
The first ideas and trials related to a craft club started in the autumn of 2007 in the Uusimaa district of the Martha Organisation. However, the organised craft activities under the Craft Martha name only started in 2009 with the baby sock campaign in honour of the Marthas’ 110th anniversary year. Several events were held in 2009 in the Uusimaa district’s facilities, where people were instructed on how to knit baby socks. These events were enormously popular. The meetings in the autumn of 2009 also had other themes, such as knitting patches for blankets.
In the beginning, an employee of the Uusimaa district of the Martha Organisation participated in the Craft Martha meetings, but little by little the Craft Marthas have started to operate increasingly independently. The Uusimaa district provides a meeting space for the Craft Café and information about the activities. The Craft Marthas have a leader, around whom a core group of active participants has formed. For their part, the leaders are responsible for planning the activities and the programme at the Craft Café.
Today, several divisions of the Martha Organisation organise Craft Martha activities inspired by the good experiences from Uusimaa.
The intention is to continue the Craft Café activities while continuously assessing and developing the form of activity. The Marthas’ craft activities support the organisation’s home economics advice, and they are a part of the organisation’s long history. The Marthas can do their part to promote craft skills and pass them on.
The community/communities behind the submission
Kässämartat blog http://kassamartat.blogspot.fi/