Where did you get the hat? Handcrafted mailbox hats brighten up Kirkstall

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Photos – Helen Gardiner
Words – Iola Shaw

This spring has seen an increase in fun headwear for Kirkstall mailboxes.

Helen Gardiner, a Kirkstall resident, saw the idea online and thought it would be fun to try. Judging from the photos shared on Instagram, it was a huge success.

She taught herself to crochet after a lesson or two from a family member and friend three years ago.

Helen is dyslexic and found it impossible to follow standard crochet patterns, but after learning the basics by looking at pictures others had shared, she was generally able to figure out what to do next – so she tried it.

She misses the mailbox and then goes to work with her ideas. Helen learned to use a bit of rubber in the mix to keep the wool from losing its style in UK weather so she can move her creations and share the joy.

Her creations are currently on display on Vesper Gate Mount in front of the post office on Kirkstall Road, another by the fire station, and one across from the carvery on Horsforth Ring Road.

She has even more plans – with specific dates such as Halloween and Poppy Day as well as afternoon tea with cake and strawberries.

Helen tries to keep her local as she loves to see her and other people’s reactions when she’s out. You may have seen other evidence of their expertise. She created an alternate “Easter Egg” hunt with a variety of small animals and items for her local neighborhood group chat, and created NHS rainbows as part of a fundraiser last year.

Helen welcomes requests for more articles but encourages others to join in and say:

“Crocheting is very relaxing and seeing something you’ve created along the way is great, just give it a try!”



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