I’ve been pondering this post the last few days and dearly wanted to find some way to adequately describe my days at The Craft Sessions. Well, I have decided it’s going to take me longer than a few days to figure that one out. I need to steep and process because for me, it wasn’t just about the classes or the environment, or the amazingly creative women. Nope, this weekend away ran far deeper within me and there are parts of that which really took me by surprise.
On the surface, I learned so much. I found natural dyeing with the very humourous Belinda, from Alchemy, to be completely fascinating. I became enamoured over the unpredictable and delightfully unexpected colours which the native plants bestowed and then again when we altered the colours further by adding different mordants. I also now know about the importance of scouring the fabric, something I had not been aware of before. I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for a very long time but always felt intimidated and overwhelmed whenever I opened it to peruse the pages. Belinda's workshop dispelled my insecurities and I now view the process with a far more playful attitude. Do you remember the un-dyed hemp I was going to sew into a skirt? Well it’s still sitting there waiting and you know what I’m thinking don’t you…?
Textile collage with a very very pregnant and very very sweet, Elizabeth (she’s due in two weeks!) was an absolute dream and so perfectly scheduled for our final day. After the excitement and energy of dyeing, I welcomed the opportunity to sit gently and peacefully within a small group. We chatted and laughed while each working on our individual projects. My piece is only just beginning and I am so looking forward to continuing along, adding layers, story and depth. I have fallen in love with textile collage, the freedom it gives and the complete forgiving nature of the work. No straight lines, no crisply hemmed edges, no ironing, no rules, no patterns, no structure, just pure moving meditation. Simple and beautiful or intricate and detailed, the choice is yours. All of it hand stitched and free-form. Not to mention it’s a fabulous way to use up all those little-bitty stash pieces. I found textile collage to be deeply relaxing and I think it may just become my thing.
I’ve always been one to dabble in many different crafts, never becoming content or experienced in any one thing. I want to hone my skills, I’m ready to choose a focus and although I am likely to still explore and experiment, I think knitting and textile collage may just be the mediums I grow to depend upon the most.
Walking into a central room filled with near on one hundred woman all conversing fondly while expertly executing their handcrafts (mostly knitting), is shall I say, just a little bit daunting. This was something I deeply needed and desperately wanted, however. These people, certainly most if not all, they are my tribe and it turned out that there were countless others feeling just the same as I. Sitting and creating, chatting and learning, this place and these woman fed my soul. That first night, I took a deep breath and I walked in. I got a glass of my newly discovered special occasion drink (something I brought with me since I’m allergic to most alcohols), I sat down, I pulled out my knitting, and I began learning some more. I asked the life-long knitter I sat next to (Tracy) how she would interpret a particular instruction given in my pattern. I am up to the lace sleeves on Silvia (she’s been ripped back a few times and put down even more times, but she is a healing project and I am in no hurry to get her finished). I am so grateful to Tracy for she corrected my miss-interpretation of this instruction and saved me from the pain and no doubt tears that would have surely come had I continued on incorrectly. Ah, decoding the language of pattern writers… sometimes, to the novice knitter that I am, they are a little like flat packs with missing pieces!
I began knitting very casually when I was pregnant with Noah and it is only now, more than five years later, that I have discovered the correct pronunciation for the term “skein”. I’ve been moseying my way through the years happily saying “skeen” but thanks to the ever so lovely, Zena, I now know the “ee” is an “a” sound. How about that!?! Turns out there were some others learning this same thing over our weekend together, as was revealed amid many laughs at our breakfast table on the final morning.
So you see, there was much good knowledge gained but the real understanding lies in that learning deep within me. The one I am still processing and when I have something coherent to share on that I look forward to doing so. My dear friend, Christine, described this experience perfectly. She is close pals with Elizabeth Duvivier and has joined in on Elizabeth’s Squam Art Retreats many times. In the days before I left for The Craft Sessions she commented to me saying, “...I think it will be an absolutely pivotal and rejuvenating experience for you. Connecting with other women over creativity is such a powerful thing…” My golly, Christine, how right you are and I had no idea how pivotal, how rejuvenating and how powerful. I am basking in the aftermath now and slowly piecing together some rather amazing insights.