I'm slowly returning to reality after attending the Craft Sessions 2015 this weekend. This was my third year attending the event - yes, I have been fortunate to have attended every year so far, from the inaugural event in 2013. Re-entry is always a bit of a shock and I never remember to book an extra day of leave to help with the assimilation!
Felicia and her band of women - Anna, Claire, Jenn and Martine - went to great lengths to ensure 2015 lived up to expectations, but also to show the growth and evolution of the event too. A few things were comfortingly the same; a few were pleasantly different. The inclusion of the Mini Market on Saturday afternoon was a big hit, and lots of lovely wares were on display (and being purchased judging by the happy people clasping bags of goodies at pre-dinner drinks!)
I went to yoga with Gemma both mornings and it was a perfect, grounding way to start the day. Sunday morning I was rather early so I sat chatting quietly with Gemma waiting for the class to start, and as we were admiring the bushland setting the sun started to peak up over the ridge and shine upon the space. It was just a bit magical.
I really liked the format of starting classes on the Friday afternoon, which I can't recall if was the same program as last year, or something that came out of the suggestions from 2014? Either way, shortly after check-in on Friday afternoon we will all immersed in our first classes. I'd elected for Knitting stitch patterns in the round and upside down, with Georgie Hallam from tikkiknits. It was my first time taking one of her classes and it was great - for those that haven't had the pleasure, Georgie has a lovely, fun way of teaching and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all aspects of knitwear design.
Saturday was spent with a teacher I'm so lucky to also call a friend. Jules, from woollenflower, who has recently moved to Scotland to live (and I miss her dreadfully!) was teaching her Knitting for Speed, Comfort and Efficiency workshop where I learned, among other things, how to knit Portuguese-style. Oh my. It's amazing and particularly good for textured stitch patterns incorporate knit and purl stitches, like Balnarring, due to how the yarn is tensioned between these two stitches. I didn't manage to get a photo of any of us practicing the technique though!
Here I am trying Lever knitting, which is how Stephanie Pearl-McPhee knits (take a look here at how fast she is at it!). I'm also wearing a vintage tartan woollen scarf that Jules brought me back from Scotland as a gift. I love it's whisky colours and it will be treasured.
During the class we also had a quick demo of a traditional knitting belt, which fascinate me.
Saturday afternoon was listed as "free time" on the program, although there were several mini workshops and demos throughout the afternoon if you were inclined. Spinning, spoon carving, blocking your knits were a few of the things on offer however we decided to take the opportunity to sit and knit with a glass (or two) of wine, and catch up with everyone.
I stepped outside of knitting-related workshops for the Sunday, and instead chose to do some screen printing with Lesley from mazeandvale. Every year I've been keen to try one of her classes but there was always a timetable clash of some sort preventing me. If you aren't familiar with Lesley's work you should go and check it out now. Not only does she produce stunning printed fabric but recently she has been working on a beautiful series of watercolours, and you can find both for sale on her website.
This is Lesley showing us how to print repeats, which was surprisingly easier than I'd remembered (if you get your design right).
I hadn't done screen printing since my art school days, and never on fabric, so this was a great way to spend a sunny day. We set up out on the balcony of one of the conference rooms and away we went. The aim of the class was to show you how to screen print easily at home with limited equipment and material, which was particularly appealing to me. There were a lot of areas of creating work that I could no longer utilise when I left my studio behind years ago, and to have access to one of those again was a little exciting.
Before we knew it, it was time for final farewells and it seemed like it was over all too soon. With last hugs and exchanges of contact details with new found friends, we were on our way out of the Yarra Valley and back towards home. Back to reality, but with new inspiration, skills and friendships and a renewed sense of how creativity and craft fits within daily life. It was a good vibe to finish the weekend on.
If you'd like to see more of the Craft Sessions, the hashtag to follow on all social media is #thecraftsessions2015