By the time I finished university at the age of 26, I was itching for some adventure. I worked for a scant few months to save some money, before jetting off with no plans and no idea how long I would be away for. I think I murmured something about being home in time for Christmas. Which I was – just six years later…
I arrived home pregnant and now in my early 30s, and the women I had left behind, my women, were thin on the ground. Many had moved overseas or interstate. Some were doing that corporate thing, rather than the kid thing. Others had just moved to the other side of Melbourne. It became clear to me over that first year back that coming home actually meant starting again.
I needed to find myself a whole new community, which to tell you the truth felt a little daunting. As a new parent with a small fella who did a lot of screaming and not much sleeping, trying to bond with women at the local mothers group was often just excruciating. Their babies peacefully slept on their bunny rugs on the floor of the community centre, while mine was a. screaming and b. throwing up all over me. Did I mention that he was also a chucker?
After a long hiatus, and like many women before me, I started crafting around the time I had kids. And so I was making. And making. And making. Making mainly to feel the joy. To feel that little spark you feel when you are lost in whatever you are creating. And I was making to own a little part of my day. The tiny part that wasn’t owned by housework or small people.
A second kid was born not long after the first and things were good. I had made friends and it was friendly, but I hadn’t really met my people. Friendships were based around our kids and while they were nice people, there wasn’t that ease you have when you find your place.
What I didn’t know then, that I do know now, is that things were going to get a whole lot better. A chance meeting on the street one day meant that I became friends with this woman. I liked her that first day. Then I ran into her again. She gave me her number – because she is like that – and after a few days I called her.
I remember calling her. It felt like I was asking someone out. We had coffee and discovered that we both made things. Then there was another chance meeting with someone we both kind of knew – another crafter - and a date was made for a craft night. Something simple at someone’s house. That second woman invited someone else to that first night, and then we were four. By the end of the night we agreed to do it again in two weeks time. A month felt like too long to wait.
We began talking that night and didn’t stop for the year and a half of fortnightly Tuesdays. Four women, a cake and a couple of bottles of wine and craft. Pure magic! Some nights I don’t think we were that productive craft-wise but the joy was there in spades. We talked and laughed and argued about ev-e-ry-thing, late into the night and none of us missed an evening. We knew nothing about one another when we began. It's now seven years later and I know I will grow old with them.
So here is the thing - the whole point of this post - I truly believe that craft was the key to bringing these friendships to me and making them hum. Not just because it gave us a reason to meet up in the first place – which it did. But also because to be a crafter, means that you must understand and value the energy and joy that goes into making with your hands. You must get it! And as crafting is such an important part of my life, I think sharing that value is a wonderful space in which to start a friendship.
Then the what you make, how you make, what you are scared of, how you approach things, tell you so much about a person; who they are or how they are feeling on a given day, that there really is a kind of magic to how you get to know someone. When you are making something, creating something, you have that little spark inside you that makes you feel a little bit more alive, and in my opinion from the outside you look a little bit shiny. You have the joy! And that is a great energy to bring to anyone’s kitchen table.
Crafting gives you a reason to work together, encourage one another, be generous with one another - it gives you the space and a framework to form a friendship. Making together means that you get to see that creative hum in someone else; and it is truly beautiful to watch.
Since that first group, I have been lucky enough to be part of quite a few other craft groups, big and small. I have watched the magic happen over and over again, and friendships form. Some groups have fallen apart, some just fade away and others have morphed into something completely new. And I have been lucky enough to form and strengthen friendships through each and every one. I found my people!
Which then inspired me to start a craft retreat; mainly as a way to create a space to come together in Australia as a larger group to connect around our shared love. But it would not have happened without the encouragement and ideas of my craft group, and it would not exist without their help and support.
Crafting has been the catalyst for connection with a whole range of beautiful, wise women that I now have in my life – and for that I am truly grateful!
I realise I said magic a lot this post and for that I apologise ;). I’d love to hear your craft group stories? Love them, hate them, never tried them….You don’t need to use the word magic. Promise.
P. S. And now for the world’s best segue…. You too can participate in a big craft group called The Craft Sessions. Our event is held September 5-7 in the Yarra Valley, and we have so many lovely women coming. Women from nearly every state in Australia and even few from NZ. Top women and magic teachers! And you can pick up your tickets by clicking on the link register at the top of the page. Registration closes tonight so this really is your last chance for this year!