The Craft Sessions.

craft sessions 1
Photo by Felicia Semple

My life is pretty simple. Really. Busy, but simple. I don’t need much to keep me happy, content and purring…

..some cheese and quince paste, a rich and hot curry, avocado on toast….and a nice crisp white wine are a few of my favorite things…

…and a good book. A page turner that takes you on a journey and transports you to a life of another era…

…an evening with friends, laughter and a shared meal leaves me with a deep sense of satisfaction….

But above all, there is my craft…

It all starts with falling in love with a colour or shade (be it fabric or yarn). Just the right combination of softness and drape. A light shine and depth of colour. The idea and promise of a new project. The search for a pattern that is just right. And the hours spent letting my hands do the work. Standing back and watching the process unfold. Learning a new skill, being inspired.

The company of women around a craft table and our weekly knitting nights, where it is all about the craft and so much more….

As I said, pretty simple.

And I know one lady in particular, that is feeling very much the same about her craft (and maybe about the food too?).  She felt the same powerful connections that are formed when a group of crafters get together and share their skills and encourage each other in their learning. And it has become her dream to create this community of learning on a larger scale. Combining all the good things a lot of crafters appreciate and crave. Beautiful surroundings, companionship and inspiring craft. Learning new skills, perfecting others and share …

Felicia Semple has been working on this passion of hers for quite some time and this year she has finally made it a reality by creating The Craft Sessions.

The Craft Sessions is a weekend retreat of creative workshops, delicious food, quiet moments and inspiring people. It’s about coming together and sharing a love of ‘making’, appreciating the beauty in the smaller things, and delighting in the pleasure and simplicity of all things handmade.

Located beautiful Yarra Valley, the event is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a weekend knitting, stitching, sewing, printing, dyeing and making. The workshops are a chance to learn new skills and be inspired by an amazing group of gifted and passionate teachers from Australia and NZ. The Craft Sessions aims to bring together people who craft for joy. “

If this sounds like your idea of a perfect weekend, you will want to visit Felicia’s beautiful website and blog for a detailed descriptions of what such a weekend entails. It includes inspiring workshops and wonderful teachers. And the space and time to spread our crafting wings.

The weekend will be held from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th of October 2013. Pop over to the website to register and sign up to their newsletter too. I am sure lots of creative bursts will come from Felicia in the future.

I, for one, am very exited about the wonderful selection of teachers that will be at the weekend. I know many have knitted a “Milo“, so you will be familiar with the name Georgie Hallam from tikki . A wonderful and creative designer, she has come up with some iconic designs that are on the top-to-knit list  on Ravelry. Another teacher is the  amazing knit wear designer and one of my favourites, Kirsten Johnstone. Check out the rest of the impressive list of creatives that will be teaching workshops in Embroidery, Sewing and Dyeing. The hardest will be to choose what classes to attend….

craft
Photo by Felicia Semple

But lets learn more about Felicia, her crafty passions and this wonderful new venture.

ZigoZago: Knitting or Sewing?:

Felicia  :  I love them both for different reasons – they give me different things. A few years ago I would have told you that I wasn’t creative and that I was only interested in the outcome; I just wanted to make some pants or one of the kids needed a cardigan. It turns out that wasn’t so true. I actually love the process. 

I’d say that over the years knitting has been my one true love. It provides a moment of space amongst the daily (joyful?) mess of family life. It brings you back to the moment and centres you where you are. Knitting offers a little bit of meditation no matter where you are or what else is going on. As Elizabeth Zimmerman said “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises”…..could there be a better life strategy. I think not. Plus you get knitwear at the end of it! How could craft get better??

But then there is sewing. I really don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t sew. What do people do? How do they mend the thousands of holes their kids put in their clothes? Do they just throw them out? And how do you find clothes you truly want to wear. That fit your body and suit your style. I’m finding more and more that the only way to get what I want is to just do it myself.

So there you have it – I probably love sewing because of the product and knitting more because of the process. An answer that isn’t an answer.

 ZigoZago: What makes your crafty heart sing? What inspires you?:

Felicia  : Wow – what a question. Possibility is the thing I love – the possibility that you can make a beautiful things with your hands. I love walking in to my sewing space and looking over some of the pretty things that are sitting on the shelf, sparkling at me. I love the feeling you get when you start a project that you can already see in your head. The joy that comes when you are totally in the flow of a project.

The other thing I love about craft is the community it creates. The discussions that happen at late night craft groups over cake and wine; about family, religion, politics, philosophy, ageing, schooling, love and longing that occur because you have common starting point – the craft.  Or someone dropping in for 15 minutes after school, desperate to sort out a knitting mistake that then turns into a shared dinner. I love the fact it is all about the love really.

ZigoZago: What inspired you to start The Craft Sessions?:

Felicia  : I guess initially we were inspired by similar events that existed overseas. There wasn’t anything like them in here. In Australia there were markets for makers, and day long workshops, and houses you could hire for group craft, but there wasn’t anything for people like us really. People who craft just for the joy of it and who wanted to meet others who did the same, learn some things and come away feeling inspired. There was nothing in Australia at the time that was teaching old school traditional handcrafts in the way that we were doing them. We couldn’t learn from the people whose work we loved as they weren’t really teaching.

Fast forward three years, one more baby and two kids at school means that the time has come when I could have a crack at creating something inspiring.

Plagiarising our own website, we explained a bit about the motivation here:

Over the past 5 years, we have gathered in kitchens and living rooms across Melbourne to craft. The idea of The Craft Sessions has grown out of those gatherings –  a collective love for making things, sharing stories and recognition that there is a spirit in the craft revival that involves both the beauty of the product and also the shared process that is making. The Craft Sessions are based on the simple idea that craft can build community.

We created The Craft Sessions to provide a space for crafters to come together; to share ideas, to learn from, and be inspired by one another. We wanted time to retreat together. To connect over more than just craft. To meet others who value handmade and the joy that creating brings to our everyday life.

We wanted to create an event where enthusiastic beginners could come and learn to make beautiful things with simple techniques. Where old-school crafts could be taught in new-school ways. Where already skilled crafters could come, be inspired and walk away with some new tricks or skills. Everyone loves a new trick – yes?

And finally the best reason for creating The Craft Sessions (which is purely selfish!) was that we wanted the opportunity to meet, hangout with and be taught by some of our crafting heros. People whose work we love and who inspire us in the everyday.

ZigoZago: Tell me about your crafting journey – and how you fit crafting into your life.

Felicia  : My mum was a sewing teacher and ran a quilting shop for 15years. My nanna was a maker as was my aunt and I really don’t remember not sewing. I made a little red dolls bikini when I was five or six.

That said there was a period in my late teens and nearly all of my 20s that I didn’t make a thing. What brought me back to making was that my oldest friend was turning 30. I wanted to make her something special and as I was overseas without a sewing machine, I decided to learn how to knit. I found a pattern I liked – a lace shawl obviously – and purchased some yarn and began. I ripped that shawl out over and over again and when it was finished it did have many an error (feature?) but my love affair with knitting had begun.

I then had a pile of little kids and discovered that making gave me something of me back in amongst the chaos. Crafting has become part of my everyday life. I use it as a reward for doing housework, and a way to get through the boring bits of life. It means that there is something visible that comes out of my day – other than a house that looks like it’s been burgled – I make stuff.

Zigozago: Where can I find out more about the Craft Sessions? 

Felicia  : Have a look at our website thecraftsessions.com. We share a few photos of our workshops, we have a blog, and a facebook page where we share some of our goings on. You can also follow us on instagram at @thecraftsessions. 

knit
Photo by Felicia Semple

And if you head over the the super cute Che and Fidel Blog, you can participate in an awesome giveaway with prizes from Felicia and the Teachers of the Craft Sessions.

Felicia has also recently published a beautiful pattern  Big Hearted Cowl on her blog. Do check it out and if you like it, then you must knit it. I know I will…

If you have been inspired by Felicia’s crafty passions and new venture, do let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear how you nurture your passions, what makes your heart sing or simply, why you love crafting.

I hope you have been well. Spring is near and with it a whole lot of new patterns to explore and new yarns to discover….

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4 thoughts on “The Craft Sessions.

  1. I would really love to take part in this, but my littlest girl will have just returned from hospital after having her tonsils and adenoids out. Think it may appear a tad selfish of me to disappear at that time! Bugger – I hope it is a raving success and that she hosts yearly events. Enjoy yourself doubly so for me!

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