A pair of knitting needles gifted by her grandmother has inspired a Letterkenny woman to start her own crafting business.
When Nora Gallagher handed the needles over to grand-daughter Mariosa little could she have realised how they would help shape her life’s path. But they have and today Mariosa’s company ‘My Own Hands’ is attracting fans from all over Ireland and beyond.
A former student at Loreto, Letterkenny, Mariosa moved to Dublin eight years ago to study business and music technology at Maynooth.
But after graduation the Glencar Scotch native instead found work in the tourism industry before securing a post as a special needs assistant in a school in Blanchardstown.
It was during the first lockdown when tourism ground to a sudden halt that 27-year-old Mariosa turned her attention to crafting.
“Everything stopped. I was working in the tourism industry and it was a go, go, go sector. But then everything just stopped and my hours were cut to three days per week.
“I was lost for something to do and I needed something because it was so quiet and no one was able to come and visit,” said Mariosa.
While lockdown set in, on the family farm in Letterkenny life continued largely as normal, something that was not lost on Keith and Sarah Gallagher’s daughter in Dublin.
“It never stops on a farm but for me life stopped completely. And it made me quite sad that I couldn’t be more productive because I’m one of those people who needs to be doing something all the time. For example I would find it difficult to sit and watch a movie. That’s when I started to think about crafting and the knitting needles my granny had given me.”
Nora Gallagher passed away in November 2017. For Christmas Mariosa and her sister both handcrafted gifts for the Christmas tree – one creating a snowman, the other a reindeer.
Two years later when the Covid outbreak took hold the knitting needles clicked again.
“During lockdown I wanted something to do and we all have clothes that needed mended. I’m quite short so I had lots of trousers that needed taken up. I started looking online and I tried different things but I was finding it quite difficult to get materials.
“I got a few kits but as a beginner there were words and abbreviations that I had never heard of and that I didn’t understand. So I got on to Youtube and that is where the idea for My Own Hands came from.”
Mariosa’s idea was creating kits that were a crafting project but with all the materials and instructions supplied and with back-up videos to go with them. She has done videos on everything from how to thread a needle or tie a knot to how to make a slip knot on to a crochet hook.
My Own Hands launched in April 2020 as an Instagram account before Mariosa set up her first Etsy account. Recently she expanded further by creating a website through Wix.
“It has been going really well and the feedback has been great.
“It’s fantastic because there is a generation out there that wants more slow fashion where we mend things instead of binning them. And you can mend pretty much anything.
“I don’t know if things are changing for us because of the pandemic but a lot of my friends are fixing their clothes now who never would have before.”
From feeling isolated and cut off due to the pandemic, Mariosa now feels part of something, a community of crafters that has sprung up across Ireland and the world.
When not at work in her full-time job, she can be found working seven days a week on My Own Hands, creating kits and making recordings.
“If I had unlimited money I would have a property where people could come in and there would be lots of cosy spaces to have a chat and a coffee. That would be the dream.”
As for the lady who inspired it all, Mariosa says she hopes she is making her nan proud.
“I think she would be very proud and very happy. I’m also a bit sad that this didn’t happen when she was around because I think our conversations would have been on a different level.
“But I do feel she would have been proud.”
To check out Mariosa’s work go to https://www.myownhands.ie/ or you can follow her progress via her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MYOWNHANDSIRELAND
Posted: 5:00 pm September 18, 2021