Do you find you are too busy to see your very best crafty friends each week or month? Do you miss the shared cups of tea, steaming brewed coffees and freshly baked raspberry apple tarts that accompany your wild and deep conversations? Do you lack motivation to finish your crafty projects on your own? Are they piling up behind the cupboard door just waiting for inspiration?
A few months ago, I felt like I was beginning to shrivel up inside through lack of restoration, rejuvenation, creative inspiration and connection with my best crafty girlfriends. Although I have many girlfriends from many different walks of life, my crafty girls are my mirrors and it is my relationships with them that feed and nourish my soul, my mind and my body. (There are some good cooks in my circle!) And as we all know, one doesn’t have the luxury of complaining unless you have tried to do something about your situation.
My ‘do something’ motto became inspiration for what my friends and I now call our Crafternoons. Sadly, I can’t lay claim to that wonderful term that speaks of crafty chick high teas but oh my, we’ve embraced it. Maybe you’d like to adopt the idea too.
The criteria were short. My friends and I weren’t looking to join a crafty group, or commit to something ongoing (the lack of time being the major issue to begin with) and did not need any more work to fit into the day. But we could manage to attend a limited number of special events, especially if the dates were given months in advance. I also banked on the belief that most of my crafty girls would relish an opportunity to host just ONE party, planning it from start to finish — styling, theming and preparing an afternoon tea banquet and a crafty activity, IF they could attend the other events without having to lift a finger, except to call a friend and extend an invitation.
I was right!
I chose five of my friends to be hosts back in June. A host needs to be capable of preparing, setting up and also confidently teaching a simple craft to a group of friends and possibly strangers (soon to be friends). They have to be good time managers, somewhat social, have a space to host the Crafternoon and most importantly, LOVE craft. They must also have the means to provide a meal and all the materials for their chosen craft without reimbursement. It is important to share the non-negotiables such as these when you ask your friends. It gives everyone a chance to think about their ability to commit to the group and exit stage left if enthusiasm is waning. In my group, when the five others plus myself committed to hosting, it meant we were ready to schedule six parties, over the next six months, leading us into the Christmas season.
Each of my friends committed to hosting a single party in the month of their choice (happily, everyone was happy to work around one another’s responsibilities) and we booked all the dates from the get-go, careful to leave at least three weeks in between each gathering. Our Crafternoons happen on Saturdays from 2-4.30pm, as we found this to be a time when mamas could most easily find alternative carers (husbands and grandparents!) for the children, and sporting commitments are usually finished for the day. We use email correspondence to keep everyone in the loop and make group decisions. Email groups help us to make a date change, extend invitations, and solve any niggles.
But the best thing of all is that our Crafternoons are inclusive! We want to share the crafting love with both fellow crafters AND those who have not yet been bitten by the bug but who might enjoy an afternoon of sweet conversation and joyful making. Each ‘host’ is given the opportunity to invite ONE guest each month. If a host is unable to find a friend who can come, they can pass their invitation on to another host in the group. Our goal is always to fill the 12 spots with vibrant, happy friends! A month into our Crafternoon events, we made a group decision that our invited guests can only attend once during this six month period. This helps to ensure we spread our inviting wings far and wide, and also helps prevent sadness! Many of our guests would love to come to every one! (We also show them how they can set up their own group too.)
With the hard work of organisation taken care of, the creative fun stuff begins. To date, we have had a ‘Christmas in July’ Crafternoon where Simone greeted us with a twinkling Christmas tree (decorated joyfully by her young boys) and the aroma of cinnamon and spices. Our craft was to needle felt a simple Christmas bauble. Crafters both new and old to this fine activity were spellbound by the work and also by the gorgeous supportive conversation that filled the room. Chai latte, hot tea and creamy coffee were on high rotation. We ate strawberry skewer sticks, raw chocolate hedgehog slices, smooth pumpkin soup and were awed by warm plum pudding and custard to boot. A memorable Christmas in July, that is most evident.
Carrie held a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Each guest was treated to tea from our own teapot, brewed just the way we like it. Mad pink fluffy top hats, Scottish Tam-O’Shanters and kindergarten costume hats of roosters and crabs and apple trees were there for the wearing. Our crafty task was to cut a template from a choice of coloured hessian (the aqua hessian was in demand!) in the shape of a tree, a bird or a heart. Birds were by far the favourite. Sewing them up with blanket stitch and stuffing them full of wool, we could make table decorations or a car deodoriser or a hanging mobile for a bedroom. Coconut cake, chocolate brownies and Carrie’s famous savoury scrolls filled the bellies of her guests, now nourished in body, mind and soul.
Felting was the name of the day at Jen’s Crafternoon but it took all our willpower to first walk past her high tea of raw vegan banana pie, choc seed balls and cashew cream covered pikelets. Each guest felted inside a dinner plate to create a circular piece that could be used as a decorative mat for a candle or a display piece on a mantle. She gave us an extra challenge by showing us how to use a template. From this, we could cut a 3D star or flower shape to surround our candle. Wow! And as we rolled, and chatted, and giggled, our tummies rumbled for that pie. My, it was good.
We’ve still three of our Crafternoons to enjoy, including my own turn at hosting. Felicity and Cath round up autumn then we’re going out with a bang, as the last event will be right before Christmas. I’ve extended the hours a little for the last one and we’re going to share a hot Christmas dinner of sorts together. I’ve been planning the table settings and the menu and the craft for some time now. And we’re going to make something super cute.
Why not host your own Crafternoon events? Six gatherings is a hoot but you might choose to limit it to three or four events, or perhaps bi-monthly… I’d love to hear about it!
Writer and Educator Amber Greene (B. Ed, ADCC) is mama to Henrietta (16) and Ned (2). Her work provides a flash of insight and bright ideas for a variety of topics including parenting young children, eco-friendly living and artistry in everyday life. She writes daily on her blog MamaMoontime, where you can see comprehensive coverage of all of her Crafternoon events by typing “Crafternoon” in the search bar. You can also contact Amber via email.