Oct 18, 2023
Postbox toppers: The creative craze that captivated communities in 2022
Rising energy bills, political turmoil and the cost-of-living crisis has dominated 2022. But amid the gloom, an unusual creative craze boomed, bringing smiles to the faces of communities. There has
Rising energy bills, political turmoil and the cost-of-living crisis has dominated 2022.
But amid the gloom, an unusual creative craze boomed, bringing smiles to the faces of communities.
There has been a surge in the popularity of postbox toppers - the knitted or crocheted decorations that sit on top of postboxes.
The woollen works are often inspired by a theme, season or event.
BBC News looked at some of those that generated widespread reaction across social media and spoke to the people behind them.
Margaret Upton, 70, learned to crochet during the coronavirus lockdown following the death of her husband.
She started by making toys for children but moved on to toppers after her daughter showed her a website about them.
She displayed her first one in the village of Ticknall in Derbyshire earlier in the year and has since gone on to make six more.
"I actually do it for me," she said.
"It gives me something to do but the by-product is that everybody seems to enjoy them."
Ms Upton says her work is praised on the internet but she also gets recognised in the street.
"Somebody came up to me and said 'fantastic effort for your Christmas topper; that's really nice'.
"They were just walking their dog, the same as I was, so people do appreciate it," she said.
Ms Upton suspects the pandemic has been behind the rising popularity of toppers.
"I can only assume it was because of lockdown and people wanting to cheer other people up," she said.
Katie Newbold, 34, from Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, also learned to crochet during lockdown and started making toppers this year.
"I thought how beautiful they were and loved what it brought to everybody," she said.
"[People] were commenting on how they had them smile and people connected to them."
Mrs Newbold made her first topper of an Easter bunny in the spring.
She has since gone on to make toppers for the Queen's Jubilee and Christmas.
But it was a topper she made featuring Winnie the Pooh that prompted a particularly emotional response.
"A lady just happened to comment on our community pages about how she'd lost her daughter as a baby and Winnie the Pooh was very much her connection," she said.
"So when that topper came down, I promised her she could have it."
Sue Paterson set up the Yarn Bombing Stapleford group in January to attract visitors to the high street, which she said was "really suffering".
She had 125 people sign up to take crochet classes.
Ms Paterson, who is a local councillor, said she was surprised at how well the community had responded.
"When we've actually done the creations and the yarn bombing and put it out, the response has been overwhelming really," she said.
"People are actually looking for them when they go out now - they're asking where the next one is going to be.
"It's just brought a bit of fun, not only in the classes but everybody seems to be really enjoying it."
Some of the group were new to crocheting while others, like Steph Reston, were experts.
The 58-year-old was taught to crochet by her grandmother when she was a child.
She said a lot had changed in recent years, making it a more appealing hobby.
"Patterns have become available for crocheting," she said.
"It's always been knitting over the years and it used to be if you crocheted you just did a granny square and just kept going around until it was a blanket.
"Now you can get anything crocheted."
The group has been decorating Stapleford, in Nottinghamshire, with toppers throughout the year, including 10 festive toppers in the build-up to Christmas.
The anonymous Syston Knitting Banxy (SKB) started making toppers before the pandemic.
The artist - who knits her creations - has been making toppers for the Leicestershire town of Syston since the spring of 2019.
Her Remembrance Day topper in 2020 went viral across social media.
She has received recognition from celebrities and people across the world for some of her creations.
Fiona Henry, from Syston Town News, is one of just a handful of people to know her identity.
She said SKB had been "thrilled" to see so many more toppers this year.
She added: "She did actually say, 'I think I've become an influencer' and I said, 'yes, I think you probably have'."
Ms Henry suspected the increased popularity of toppers was down to the positive reaction they attracted.
"We live in a very strange world at the moment - all the different sorts of crises we seem to be going through - I think possibly it's the same reason SKB started and this is just to put a smile on people's faces.
"When I see it on Facebook from other areas, that tends to be the thread that pulls them all together," she said.
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