The Star's Favourite Things: A place to craft an ambition
Lisa Birkett, the owner of fabric shop Happy Hare, in Chapeltown, writes about Sheffield's strengths.
How long have you lived in Sheffield and whereabouts?
I’ve lived in Hillsborough for around seventeen years, after moving here from the North East. I love Hillsborough – it’s just so green. When I first moved here, I worked in the city centre and couldn’t drive, so it was important to live somewhere with good public transport links.
I live with my Bengal cat, Mia. She is rather… spirited. She came to me six years ago from Siamese Cat Rescue Sheffield, who do a fantastic job of caring for and rehoming Oriental cats. Although she can be somewhat difficult, I wouldn’t be without her – when you live by yourself, it’s great to have a pet to come home to. Support your local rescue - adopt, don’t buy!
What do you do for a living?
After 20 years supporting people back to work after catastrophic accidents or illness, I packed it all in last September and opened a fabric shop in Chapeltown at the beginning of this year.
We also teach a range of crafts in our workshop. It’s so different from what I’ve done before, and I’m really enjoying the change. I think it’s important for us to support and promote other small businesses – we currently stock wool which is spun in Huddersfield and are taking on some from Leeds later in the year. We also feature dressmaking patterns by some of the smaller independent designers.
What do you like most of all about living in Sheffield?
I’m from the Lake District, so I love the fact that Sheffield has all of the advantages of a fair sized city, but is also on the edge of the Peak District. You can be out in the middle of the countryside in only a few minutes by car or train.
Do you have a favourite place or hidden gem in the city?
It’s actually just outside the city. I try and get out to Padley Gorge on the Longshaw Estate for at least one picnic over the summer. It’s just such a beautiful place. I’m really looking forward to taking my nephew and his baby there this year. Perhaps we’ll have a bit of a paddle, if the water isn’t too cold. There’s usually an ice cream van parked somewhere up there, and I’m sure we’ll indulge in that as well.
What is your favourite pub or place to eat in Sheffield - and why?
I’m a big fan of Indian food. My current favourite restaurant is Aagrah. Their curries are delicious.
If you could improve one thing about the city, what would it be - and why?
The potholes! Oh, and I love going to the beach, so if Sheffield could be relocated nearer the sea, that would be good as well.
Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read crime novels, especially those by John Connolly and Jeffrey Deaver, which are just so beautifully written, as well as being tightly plotted. I never see the twist at the end coming!
To some extent, my job is also my hobby. I’ve been sewing to relax for several years. I’m now fortunate enough that I get to spend some time every day doing something I love, whether it’s teaching people to sew or making up samples for new classes.
We’re in the middle of writing the new workshop timetable, so I’m currently running up lots of different things to see how they would work as a class. As we are a new business, I’ve also been making things to brighten the place up, like bunting for the front of the shop.