Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the craft sessions

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of taking part in the inaugural event of  The Craft Sessions.

part of our gift bags, which were on our beds upon arrival
After much anticipation, I can safely say it was everything I imagined, hoped, and wished for.  

Set in the beautiful estate of the Yarra Valley Convention Centre, we were inspired beyond expectation.  Organiser Felicia and her army of helpers had thought of every detail to make sure we all had a wonderful experience and got the most joy possible out of our weekend of craft.  It was obvious they are passionate about their project, and that passion was infectious.

From a wonderful cross-section of teachers and workshops on offer, to guest speakers, exceptional food - oh, the food!  delish and plentiful! - and of course, the stunning natural environment, there was really nothing I would have changed.  (except maybe the opportunity to enrol in more workshops - an extra day or three would have been amazing!)

I took three classes - Saturday I spent in dyeing workshops; one for indigo dyeing, the other teaching us how to use natural resources from the environment to dye textiles.  Both classes were taught by Julia Billings.  In fact, all the workshops I took were taught by Julia.  Unplanned on my behalf, but very happy coincidence!  If you ever get the opportunity to take one of her classes, don't hesitate.

examples brought in by Julia - not what we dyed!

I spent the whole day Sunday learning about stranded colourwork, which was very exciting given my personal interest in the tradition of Shetland knitting practices.

These are the examples brought in by Julia which were stunning, to say the least.

 We spent the morning discussing the history and influences of colourwork in knitting, and colour theory. Then we began working up our own designs to be incorporated into a tam, and had some great instruction on technique for provisional cast on's and knitting in the round with yarn in both hands.

This is my progress so far.

I'm smitten.  For someone who has always loved traditional knitting, I've really been too scared to tackle it properly, but after this class I feel like the mystery has been removed.  I am very much a visual learner, picking up skills much quicker when I'm show in person than trying to work it out from diagrams and descriptions.

There's so much more to discuss about The Craft Sessions, but I'm feeling overwhelmed and finding it hard to put into words exactly the impact the weekend had on me.   It certainly was wonderful to be able to spend a whole weekend learning new skills and working on craft-related projects, for sure.  But there was something more than that about the weekend for me.  I came away with such a sense of clarity about my work, and the direction I want to take it in.  

To me, as with so many others, my craft work is more than just a past time, or hobby (I really detest that word, but can't find an apt replacement at the moment).  I find the artisan skills and their history incredibly fascinating and they have always played a bit part in my art work.  

I've been struggling recently, grappling with where I want to focus my passion and creativity; what I want to "do", and the weekend has really been able to more clearly define this dilemma for me.  I'm not exactly sure where this clarity will take me, but I know where I want to focus on moving out of my current employment sector and into something more relevant, more fulfilling.

Big changes ahead, and it will probably take some time to put into place, but the impetus is there, and the will is there.  That's all I need for now.


needleandspindle said...

Lordy that sounds like an amazing weekend. No wonder you are so excited! I too feel that burning desire to make this crafty life so much more. Can't wait to see your colour work.

Leonie said...

I looked at this and ummed and ahhed about whether to go, and while in the end I decided not to and I'm sorry to have missed it, I am happy to see that everyone that went seems to have had a good time and learned lots and met new people. The stars didn't align for me this time, perhaps next time they will :-)

Huff said...

Wow! That sounds like an amazing weekend. I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for the next one!

I look forward to seeing where your passion for the beautiful things you "do" takes you. take you.

katiecrackernuts said...

You have no idea how jealous I am. The dates were right bang on me arriving back in Australia and I am pleased I didn't book just from a point of stretching myself too thin but I have loved hearing about it in the blogosverse and do so very much hope there's another.

Anonymous said...

So jealous you got to do Jules' classes, particularly the dyeing (I was trying to be nosy from Sophie's class inside and peek at what you guys were all up to!). Your colourwork is looking lovely and I'm glad you decided to jump in and try it. Good luck with all the big changes, exciting...

DrK said...

Oh I am intrigued at what you might be planning. It's so great to hear the Sessions was so inspiring and that colour work looks amazing. I'm yet to go there and I really want to. Can't wait to see how that turns out and where you go from here!

2paw said...

Wow, what an amazing weekend and such fabulous colours. I am a poor fair-isle or colour work knitter and I think learning from a real person is preferable to making it up yourself!!

Rose Red said...

Coming in late (yet again woefully behind in blog reading). I know what you mean about knitting not really being a hobby. I am not sure how best to describe it either, but it's kind of like my lifeblood. If I go a day without knitting or crochet, I feel myself go a little bit mad.

Gad you had such a fabulous time at the Craft Sessions, so envious!