IT'S a great yarn and with plenty of substance.

Diane Danby's Knit and Natter group have been meeting for many years but their ambitious creations are attracting plenty of headline-grabbing attention.

Their most challenging project to date - which they completed last year - not only helped them raise the roof of their church, it recently catapulted them into the church news headlines.

Months of clickety clicking resulted in the creation of a 6ft by 4ft knitted replica of St Stephen's Church in the village of Steeton near Keighley.

The vicar, the Rev Jenny Savage, explains the church roof required a £150,000 repair programme and it was the idea of the church's Knit and Natter group to help raise funds towards the costs.

Diane loves crafting and her partner, Phillip Walker, enjoys modelling. Diane explains how it was Phillip who suggested creating a model of the church and part of the village.

The pair took hundreds of photographs and Phillip began creating the framework for the church; the church hall and other landmarks such as the Square; Holme House, the two cottages, the memorial garden and cenotaph and the stream.

Nine of the Knit and Natter knitters, Anneliese, Penny, Joan, Tracey, Doreen, Alice, Diane, Maureen and Glenis, then set to work to knit the required colours to cover the area.

They even knitted their own little touches too - one of the oldest members even knitted a rabbit to add a bit of character to their unique creation.

Diane, who set up the Knit and Natter group four years ago following a community request for a crafting group to run in Steeton Community Hub, knitted all the buildings.

The 59-year-old's fellow knitters drew on their own skills and expertise knitting and crocheting fences and flowers, trees, ivy, water for the stream, bridges, pebbles and bushes and other decorative elements to produce a woolly replica of part of their home village.

"It is absolutely fabulous to look at. It is all done almost to a total replica in some places," says Diane.

"I am proud of it, I really am."

Diane was five when she initially picked up her needles. Her mum taught her to knit and, following a brief break during her teenage years, she's been knitting ever since.

"I cannot sit without knitting," says Diane.

Now she and her fellow knitters are preparing for their next project - knitting the Yorkshire Air Ambulance which they hope will help to boost funds for the charity which provides life saving rapid response to more than five million people across the county.

Diane explains they hope to embark on the project next year when Phillip will begin building the helicopter's model framework.

In the meantime, they are currently in the throes of creating a woolly wheelchair. Diane explains they received a request from a school in Swansea which they understand could be a demonstration model for children with disabilities.

Phillip is also creating a ramp as part of the display which is anticipated to measure 10 inches by 10 inches.

Another project they have recently completed is knitting hundreds of poppies for the forthcoming Remembrance Day service.

"Phillip made the frames and we have covered them in poppies," explains Diane.

But their biggest project, by far, has been the woolly replica of their local church and village.

"When you see it it is absolutely amazing," says the Rev Savage.

A keen knitter herself, the vicar appreciates all things crafty and is literally a spinning Jenny - spinning her own wool.

The Rev Savage explains she originally acquired a spinning wheel eight years ago after rescuing one that was broken and destined for the tip.

Fortunately her husband was able to fix it - her challenge then was to learn how to use it. Jenny recalls writing an article 'Spinning a Yarn' for the local church magazine seeking keen spinners who would also teach her how to spin wool.

"One of the lead spinners lived on the end of our road and she helped me to spin," recalls Jenny, who went on to set up a craft group which met for a year in Burton in Lonsdale where she was previously based.

"At the group people carded, spun and knit wool or collages and some did some weaving on small portable looms, others did embroidery and patchwork."

Jenny's current project is an Aran jumper which takes her back to her college days when she learnt to knit after being inspired by her pal.

"I had a friend at college who spent her spare time knitting Aran jumpers."

Evidently Jenny's flair for crafting is an inherited skill. Her mum was a knitter testing patterns for Emu wool and Jenny has since discovered many of her relations were weavers and spinners in the local mills.

Knitting is a traditional craft which, over the past few years, has gradually seen a resurgence as people become more conscious of recycling and to 'make do and mend.'

Who knows, may be the Knitted Church could prompt more people to pick up their needles and aspire to a challenging project?

It has certainly helped to boost the church roof appeal - a collection box placed at the side of the display has so far raised around £500.

Since the appeal was launched just over a year ago with the Parish Church Council, the congregation and the community have raised a staggering £21,000.

Jenny explains by Christmas they had already raised £4,000 and by April they had topped £8,000.

As well as support from the church and the local community, they've also received funds from other organisations including the Listed Places of Worship Roof Fund; Yorkshire Historical Churches Trust; Garfield Weston and Allchurches Trust.

Work started earlier this month on the roof repairs. The first phase, involving the Lady Chapel, is expected to be completed next month (November).

Jenny explains they are now seeking funding for phase two, which includes the re-roofing of the Knave.

"It is absolutely incredible," says Jenny, referring to the support they have received so far.

The Knit and Natter group meets from 1.30 until 4pm on Mondays and Fridays at Steeton Community Hub in Steeton Village.

National Knitting Week runs from October 13 to 21. For more information visit