Crafty friends.


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Yes, I know it sounds as though I have friends in espionage or something, but the reality is that I spent the long weekend in the company of 9 blogging friends at craft camp.

I have to tell you… it was fantastic. Imagine only having to cook one meal in 3 days… Imagine being able to start and finish projects in totally uninterrupted chunks of time…  No having to get up to take kids to friends’ places/music lessons/or feed them when they’re hungry. Imagine being able to sew for three days without having to clear away your spread-out materials even once…

Pure joy people, I’m telling you.

Look at how happy Mr Darcy was. He loved spending time with new friends too.

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The best part? Spending time with people who ‘get it’. Who don’t patronisingly ask about your quilts while referring to them as “blankies” and who don’t bat an eye when you show them a piece of knitting that is as tall as you are and you ask them how to wash it in a washing machine to shrink it down to the size of a postage stamp. (Yes, the Kiki Mariko rug is now felted and cut. I’m just waiting for it to dry.)

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Before. (Felting.)

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And after. (Felting.) This was after I had it in a pillow case and had brutally bashed it against the brick path. I still have to cut it into shape and edge it. But it was very scary to put such a huge piece of knitting into a washing machine and turn it on. If it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of the other Crafty Campers, I might very well have brought the Kiki Mariko rug back home with me, all unfelted.

Suse and Janet asked an eclectic bunch of us together and it went like a dream. We had knitters with blue hair; embroiderers who made really good coffee; quilters who are much better than I am; garment makers who made extraordinarily gorgeous things and who shared the mystic secrets of the overlocker;  dancers, masseusses masseurs  people who massage other people really really well; writers and me.

I went to craft camp not really knowing what to expect. I’d seen other blog posts raving about what a fantastic place Sewjourn is, but to be frank I was more concerned about the dreaded meal I had to cook for real live humans… not just for my boys. They’ll pretty much eat any muck, so who knows how far my cooking standards have slipped over the years of being single? Fortunately, I was assigned the first meal of the weekend. Friday night. I figured that I was establishing the benchmark of culinary excellence, no matter how low it was, and then I could relax for the rest of the weekend and enjoy being fed by women who were totally sure to be better cooks than I was.

(That bit turned out to be true. I’ve never had such a sybaritic weekend of gourmet excellence in my life. Goats cheese. Who knew?)




I arrived late on Friday evening, the combination of long weekend traffic out of Melbourne and a pelting storm that made visibility difficult meaning that an hour long trip turned into one lasting nearly two and a half hours.  Which was of course all to the good, I thought cunningly to myself. They’ll be so famished that they’ll eat anything… even something I make!

Luckily, I’d found the BEST recipe for Butter Chicken.  So quick and easy and it tastes divine. All 4 of the boys like it, which is almost unprecedented for a non-pasta dish. So I whipped up the Butter Chicken and served it up, then we knitted and chatted convivially until bed.

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Eleanor and Stomper danced the morning away on Monday. Eleanor borrowed these from Stomper:

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…and they clickety-clacked away as I was bashing the daylights out of my rug. It was most cheery.

I cut and hemmed three pairs of work trousers on Saturday. Did you know that it takes around 45 minutes to hand-stitch the hems on a pair of trousers? Multiply that by three and you’ll realise why I hate Maths so much. It felt like a bit of a waste of a precious craft day, though I have to admit that on Tuesday when I woke up to a bleak work day, I felt very smug when I reflected that I could choose between three pairs of trousers.

I also made another tuba cushion for Evan4. He designed both sides and chose the fabrics from my stash and he was really pleased with the result.

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I also sewed in the 6 ends of Malabrigo wool to finish the cowl I knitted when the boys and I went to  Ballarat. That counts as a Craft Camp finish, doesn’t it?

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I made some more squares on the quilt I’m making for my niece, but the big surprise of Craft Camp happened when I idly pulled out a piece of fabric that I’d bought over a year ago with the intention of making a skirt. (Yeah right. As if that was ever going to happen!) I’d cut into it a bit to make a quilt.

It was late on Sunday afternoon. Suse glanced over at it and said, “There’s enough fabric there to make an A-line skirt. I’ve got a pattern here. Do you want to give it a go?”

I don’t think she realised how scary that was. I’m Frogdancer. I make quilts and the occasional tuba cushion, as everyone does. (Come on! Don’t try and tell me that you haven’t ever made a tuba cushion? Pull the other one.) I do NOT make clothes. Clothes are freakishly scary and very very hard to make. Only sweat shop workers in third world countries and talented people in Craft Camps can put those things together.

But look:

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I pinned a pattern to fabric and then cut into the fabric without using a rotary cutter and ruler. I was travelling well, beginning to be overcome by the thought of my own cleverness, when Janet uttered the awful phrase, “…Something something something Zip something….” (Sorry. I don’t remember the exact phrase. One word in it was enough to pulverise my insides.)

Zip? I have to put a zip in? No one mentioned anything about a zip!!!!!

Apparently I went ashen. Janet’s description, and I think it’s accurate. I felt physically sick. Logic simply doesn’t enter into it. I know, if I thought about it logically, that zips can’t be all that hard, otherwise no one would use them. It’d all be hooks and eyes or velcro. But still, I was petrified.

Suse was no help. She was off being petrified because she was also crossing to her personal Dark Side… quilt making. Here’s a photo of her being scared.

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It’s like something out of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, isn’t it? See the terror on her face? Not everyone is as brave as me when confronted with scary sewing tasks.

Still… I did it! Even with miniscule quilting seams which means that I can never put on weight otherwise the skirt will explode…(can you imagine that happening in front of a class? I somehow don’t think the world is ready for that little spectacle…) Still…. I did it!! I still have to do the hem, but everything else is done. It’s a Craft Camp miracle. Suse was incredible patient with me. It was like a class out of “Sewing for Idiots.”

Everyone had such a good time. I shared a room with Kate, whichwas a little strange for me as I haven’t shared a room with someone for over a decade. Apparently I don’t snore, which is a lovely thing to know because I’d hate to have that nasty habit creep up on me all unawares. My ex husband used to snore and it used to drive me nuts. Here’s Kate. She jumped up on a chair for some reason and so here she is:

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I think it was something to do with the afternoon light in the studio being extraordinarily …something photographic, but I wasn’t paying attention. I had a zip to tame.

Janet made a skirt that is desigened to make a 5 year old twirl:

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Look at how I deliberately caught the afternoon light on the skirt because, as everyone knows, this blog is noted world-wide for its photography….

Anyway, I’d better go. The bell is about to go for the end of the day. (Before you all think I’m being slack… I had a free period. Just ignore the pile of correction sitting to my right. Future Ms Frogdancer will deal with it.)

I’d like to thank Suse and Janet for inviting me and I’d also like to thank everyone who attended for making the weekend such a warm and funny experience. I had the best time!

And when I got home the house was still standing and the boys were all alive. They’d even done some cleaning up and a load of washing. Another Craft Camp miracle.

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(Here’s a photo of Shula using an embroidery hoop. I’ve never seen that in real life before. I felt like I’d gone back in time and was in a Georgette Heyer Regency novel. I felt all ladylike.)

This entry was posted in cooking, friends, holidays, knitting, quilting, sewing, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Crafty friends.

  1. Urspo says:

    jolly good fun !

  2. persiflage says:

    Well done. Nice work, and it all looks terrific. As for scariness, that Mr Darcy of yours looks totally terrifying. As an ex-sewer who recently bought a new machine which is yet to be used, I can tell you that zips were the least of my worries. There was cutting out, fitting, finishing. Etcetera. My first project is to be a cushion cover with a zip.

  3. mary says:

    You have almost


    made me feel as though I was, indeed, there.


  4. river says:

    What a fun camp! I love the twirl skirt. I’ve used an embroidery hoop, not very well though. I’m just not good at those sorts of things. I can manage very easy cross-stitch. (if the light is bright enough).

  5. Sanna says:

    I was almost worried about you since you hadn’t posted in awhile…. I see now that was a waste of time!
    Tuba cushion??

  6. Pebbledash says:

    All looks wonderful, and sounds wonderful. Even the scary bits.

  7. Laura says:

    SO. Jealous. Wahhhhh, I wanna go to craft camp!

    GREAT results, and congratulations on the zip on your first skirt, I can imagine you were sweating bullets, but they really are quite achievable eh?

    (beetles off dreaming of butter chicken….)

  8. Eleanor says:

    I miss you………………

    E xxxx

  9. Kiwi Lindsay says:

    What a wonderful sounding weekend! I’m so jealous.

    Isn’t it great how a bunch of diverse people, whose linking interest is crafting, can exchange so much over a few hours/days?

    Tube cushions (huh?), trouser hems, skirts and ZIPS… NOTHING will be too much now.

  10. libby says:

    tuba cushions??? i was looking for the instrument!! sounds like you had a great time, i have seen and heard so much about sewjourn, sounds like a great place to go to with like minded women

  11. Janet says:

    The craft weekend she was awesome, yes? I always love the meals bit, and general lack of domestic obligation – what sheer luxury!! Although I still haven’t caught up with the washing etc – ahem.

    I’m not surprised that you have made a skirt – transferable skills and all that – there is a garment maker lurking within your quilter’s* heart I do believe.

    BTW – I rather like that photo you took of me with the skirt.

    * I so hope that apostrophe is right – I found a shocking one today at a routine doctors visit and they used the white out.

  12. Stomper Girl says:

    I have to tell you Frogdancer that you were MUCH QUIETER than usual when you made that skirt. And you might have been sewing it with your tongue sticking out a bit.

    I missed the butter chicken! But if you were the bar-setter for the weekend’s catering, then it must have been bloody excellent.

  13. suse says:

    No help! No help?!

    Who was it who helpfully told you that dressmaking requires 5/8″ seams after you’d already sewn teeny quilty 1/4cm seams?

    And who was it who told you to sew up both side seams but only reminded you to leave room for the zip after you’d sewn them all the way?

    That’s right. ME. Helpmeet Extraordinaire.

    (That photo of me being terrified is truly awful. Thanks for that).

  14. Stomper Girl says:

    Also, I forgot to ask: had the boys hacked the computer for the thing?

  15. maybaby says:

    That looks like a LOT of fun. I may have to post pictures of my needlework…you know, just to keep up with the cool kids.

    Embroidery hoops are always all over my house, since I do cross stitch and other needlework. Quilting supplies, though…rare as hen’s teeth. I find quilting quite intimidating.

  16. Snickerdoodle says:

    Oh wow.. I didn’t even know such a place existed… and it’s not too far from me – Uh-oh lol

    I’m glad you had such a good time and wrote such a long post about it all because you’ve inspired me to want to go… I wonder if I could take my 10 week old baby!

  17. Marylee says:

    WOW! To be able to spread your mess out and not have to move it! Even better, to have peers to ask for advice there with their messes! Sounds wonderful!

    You are so fast! As usual, I’m amazed at how much you accomplished.

    No pictures of the skirt? You don’t have to do a closeup of the zipper. 🙂

  18. Kate says:

    I must say, your skirty effort went further than all the converted garment sewers’ assurances to convincing me that I can sew garments. If someone who does not know what they are doing can make a WHOLE SKIRT in a day (well, apart form hemming, which totally doesn’t count anyway, since it’s the devil’s work) then what’s to stop ME?

    That photo of me on the table is officially my favourite photo of me ever. I have duly stolen it and will use it for my own purposes. I believe it was the only way I could get a photo of everyone in the room taking a photo of Shula. Totes meta.

    The butter chicken was excellent. And I failed to swipe a recipe. Oh, are we going to do an recipe email around?

  19. Katy says:

    Wow, that looks like SO much fun!!! Girlfriend weekends (we scrapbooked but same principal) are what I’ve missed the most since I went back to school.

    I want to see the finished felted thingy – felting totally baffles me! (I’m a bit slow that way.)

  20. Amelia says:

    Oooooh! So much fun! Congrats on the skirt. Garmet making scares me too.
    I’ll be there one year FOR SURE.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Make sure you post the finished rug. Camp Sewjourn looks fabulous!

  22. Scott says:

    The exploding skirt – made me laugh.

  23. Jayne says:

    What a fabulously wonderful time you had!

  24. moonspun says:

    That looks like so much fun! I am not crafty, but I have spent weekends scrapbooking and it is fun to be with people who ‘get it.’ I am so glad you did this for yourself!

  25. Ellen says:

    Sounds like you have had a ball. Exploding skirts, butter chicken, rug-thwacking, like-minded people – what fun!

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