Meet Me at Mike’s

It’s no surprise that Pip Lincolne has thousands of crafty friends. Despite her rock girl appearance, Pip is an ardent and encouraging supporter of all who want to try their hand at craft, whether they feel the call of sewing, knitting, felt work or jewellery making. ‘There’s nothing better than showing someone how creative they are. Everyone’s creative!’ she says. ‘And the most imperfect attempt is still perfectly good.’

Pip runs a cosy, friendly shop called Meet Me at Mike’s, which sits in the ground floor of a terrace house in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb Fitzroy. The shop is home to vintage clothing, retro homewear, and assorted items of whimsy made by Pip and her friends. It was once a surf and skatewear emporium, and while it was very successful Pip decided she and her partner Cameron needed to shape it into something that had meaning for their family. ‘I slowly started adding clothes, brooches, and cushions. Before we knew it the shop was filled with handmade and vintage items, at a time when people were using those words like they were a bad thing! Soon all the local crafters were out of the closet and knocking on our door.’

Now Pip’s whole family is involved with the shop. ‘The kids are really proud that our shop makes people happy and that we have so many creative friends who come in and out of here. They know they are part of something special and wonderful.’

Pip’s shop is named after the family cat, ‘because it seemed happy, sweet and inviting’, and is at the centre of the Mike’s community, which also includes Pip’s popular blog, recently published book of projects, and regular gatherings of crafters, Brown Owls.

Brown Owls is especially important to Pip. ‘It made me feel weird that so many people knew each other through my blog, but they’d never met face to face. Brown Owls lets them make friends while they’re working on their craft projects. It’s a lovely thing. People who’ve never picked up a needle and thread come along, chat, have cupcakes and champagne, and go home with a finished piece – awakened to what a great thing making is!’ she says. So many people have become Brown Owls it’s no longer possible to gather in one place. In 2010, Pip hopes to encourage her crafters to set up their own Brown Owls chapters, provided they retain the spirit of the original: ‘They need to promise to be nice, to encourage one another, and not to laugh at anyone’s efforts.’

Pip’s enthusiasm for craft started early in life. ‘Grandma knitted, Mum and Dad both sewed and cooked, and it was always taken for granted that we’d have a go at making things rather than buying them. There was a real joy in creating,’ she says. She encourages the same happy experimentation with her three children Rinn, Max and Ari. ‘Our house is chaotic but there is always room to make things. The sewing machine is left out, and there are always pencils and paper at hand.’

While she loves all manner of craft, Pip’s current fixation is crochet. ‘I’m obsessed with it, but I love to sew as well. Today I’ve crocheted half a finger puppet, done some embroidery, and a little sewing.’ She says she always urges beginners to start with embroidery. ‘You can use a very basic stitch you might have learned at school, and get a quick, personalised piece. It’s something that looks hard but it’s really not so it’ll make you feel confident and clever and then you can move onto other things. The main thing with craft is to practise, and if there’s something you want to try, just give it a go.’

Pip Lincolne’s website is meetmeatmikes.blogspot.com. Her book is Meet Me at Mike’s: 26 crafty projects and things to make (Hardie Grant)

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