My name is Nancy Moreland and for more years than I can remember, crafts have always played a very important role in my life. It was always my dream to have a business where I could sell and teach crafts. My life revolves around crafting. I was taught to sew when I was about 7 years old by my mother who was a professional dressmaker. She also taught me to knit, crochet and do needle work. I grew up in a family of women who filled their time with hand crafts for both work and pleasure. I was taught to spin when I was in my early teens by an elderly family friend in New Zealand, where I was born and grew up. She spun lace weight yarn directly from the fleece to crochet wedding gowns. I have passed down my passion for crafting to my daughters.
In New Zealand I worked with adults with learning disabilities (mainly ASD and Downs Syndrome) to teach and support them to weave, spin, dye and knit articles which they sold in their local craft shop. I have also been an active member in several spinning guilds both in New Zealand and Northern Ireland.
Here in Northern Ireland I have held workshops at Ulster Folk & Transport Museum for the local spinning guild. I have also tutored at local craft groups in knitting, quilting, sewing, crocheting and various other traditional crafts. I have demonstrated spinning at various sheep shows, primary schools and museum open days both in New Zealand and Northern Ireland.
In 2015, I decided to take a huge leap of faith (and courage) and started Nifty Needles. It was small steps, taken slowly and over the years I have seen Nifty Needles blossom and develop into what it is today. It has changed over the years and I have had to take a few different paths, away from the first path. In taking these paths, I have learnt so much and seen my skills help so many people to enjoy new crafts. Nifty Needles is constantly growing and my vision at the beginning is not what it is today, it is still similar but I have been able to branch out and achieve things I never dreamt possible. I am now regularly holding workshops and classes here at Nifty Needle’s base as well as doing workshops/courses around Northern Ireland at different craft and community groups. This is something I really enjoy doing – being able to travel around and show new skills/techniques to groups around Northern Ireland.
When I started teaching workshops to groups I felt a growing need to turn my own ideas in designs and patterns to best suit the skill levels and groups I was tutoring to.This started my journey into designing and pattern writing. It took a lot of self trust in my abilities to design, create and turn it into a pattern that was readable and doable. It was a huge learning curve, but I was able to draw on my own skills and love of crafting and creating. I remember feeling very vulnerable and nervous when I released my first design/pattern to the public, but it was huge relief that my designs were well received. That was back in 2016 and I have seen my designs develop, grow in popularity and gain a reputation for being easy to understand for all skill levels, which is what I wanted for my designs.
My patterns are written for all levels of sewers and are supported with comprehensive instructions and diagrams so even the less experienced sewer can product a piece of art. My designs range from small to large items. I love to include applique (both blanket stitch and needle turn), Inktense colouring and embroidery/redwork in my designs. My quilts reflect this in their designs and many are available as BOM (block of the month) patterns or you can purchase the set of monthly patterns in one purchase.
Nifty Needles is continually expanding and a family involvement. My two daughters are very much part of Nifty Needles. My older daughter, Latisha, has a qualification in Costume Design and holds a variety of classes in sewing and dressmaking. My younger daughter, Alyssa helps out in the background with being in charge of fulfilling all the orders that come through via the website as well as helping to assemble the kits ready for group orders or to go onto the website. Her great passion is doing needle felting, both 2D and 3D and she has even taught a couple of short workshops teaching needle felting. She is a very accomplished artist and specialises in portraits using a variety of mediums. She is wanting to study Art and Design at the local Tech so she can be more active with Nifty Needles. At the end of 2020, I was able to complete and gain my Certificate for TQUK Level 3 – Award in Education and Training. Holly, our collie is very much part of Nifty Needles and loves greeting everyone that comes to classes. She has also wormed her way into being involved in all retreats.
In November 2017, I was able to fulfill a dream I had, which was organising and running a weekend craft retreat. I can remember how nervous I was in planning it and worrying about getting it right and if anyone would want to go. But that first retreat was such an success and we have been able to run retreats (both weekend and day) several times a year since that first one in November 2017. They have become very much a foundation of Nifty Needles and many friendships have been formed and continued. We have been fortunate to have the used of a lodge in the Mourne Mountains where we are looked after magnificently. It completed the relaxed and casual retreat I was wanting to create. Even Holly is now a fixture on these retreats, she refused to be left out after the first couple of retreats. She is part of the Nifty Needles foundation.
Nifty Needles is very much a family business and it is my vision that together with my daughters, Nifty Needles will grow and flourish over time. Our latest addition is a long arm quilter which we are all looking forward to learning and getting accomplished with using the machine as it is our plan to be able to offer quilting services as well as renting out time on the machine so you can quilt your own quilt under our guidance.
I hope that you will join with us to see Nifty Needles develop more. We are constantly looking at new ways to share the love of crafting with everyone.