Last year I had a fantastic time at a Women’s Institute camping weekend called Tea and Tents. It was awesome, 560 ladies from all over the country,lots of crafting and lots of fun, it was a bit like Girl Guide camp with alcohol! It was the 3rd Tea & Tents and it’s almost been a victim of it’s own success, last years tickets sold out in 13 minutes!! More importantly it became pretty stressful for the volunteers who organised it. They decided to take a year off, and from this several other smaller camps have sprung up this year. My friend and I decided to go to Jam Jars & Tent Pegs…
…it was amazing! It was held in Lytham St Annes which is a seaside town on the west coast near Blackpool. I have to admit I didn’t see anything of Lytham, but it’s meant to be very nice with a great beach! Our home for the weekend was the Scout campsite. It has great facilities with a big hall and kitchen, activity barn and hot showers (very important!!) Even better, my friend Donna bought a caravan a month before, she very bravely towed it to camp so we could sleep in comfort! There were just over 100 ladies there which was a nice number, you had a chance of getting to know people! Some had come over 200 miles from near the south coast!
On Friday I had booked a workshop on willow basket-making, it started at 1pm and I naively thought we’d be finished by about 4pm, so I was quite surprised when Cassandra, our tutor, said it was booked until 7pm! Luckily we cracked on and most finished around 5 or 6pm.
Cassandra is a great tutor, very patient, she lives in an eco village in Wales where she grows her own organic willow, which she then weaves into beautiful baskets and sculptures, as well as running workshops.She had an amazing range of willows, lots of different colours to add a bit of variety to our baskets. I didn’t realise there were so many shades of willow!
She taught us how to hold the basket handle between our knees whilst we worked on the base and how to (hopefully!) weave it without getting kinks! It was amazing how different all the baskets came out. I was really pleased with mine, it’s my first attempt and it’s a useable basket! I’m thinking of using it to collect eggs from my chickens as it’s just the right size.
Cassandra has written a post on her blog, Green Living Muse, about the weekend, it’s a lovely description of how she saw it as a non-WI member.
On Saturday morning I joined a decoupage workshop, the glue and tissue paper version, we could make a bottle and a goblet, I didn’t fancy the goblet so I decoupaged a paper fan which we’d been given in our welcome pack, I used a paper napkin with birds on, I stuck them all down and then applied a light coat of clear varnish. It looks really pretty, almost chinese style. I managed to fold it up again once it was fully dry without the varnish cracking. I’m not sure when I’ll use it but it looks pretty! The idea with the bottle is that you pop a short length of Christmas lights inside.
Sunday morning found me teaching silk painting. It’s the second time I’ve run a silk painting workshop and it seemed to go really well. There isn’t time for students to use gutta so I buy gutta printed card insets so everyone can concentrate on the painting instead, mixing and blending the colours and using salt on the wet paint. They did some beautiful cards and a few said they were going to try it at home.
So what did I do the rest of the time (apart from the beach party on the Friday night and the talent show on the Saturday night!) I decided against the clay pigeon shooting, or the wakeboarding, zumba or yoga…
We made a quilt! It was the amazing idea of a lady called Kay, she planned and organised it superbly! Her idea was that we would have a quilt retreat, anyone could pop in and make just one, or several blocks. These would then be stitched together and the quilt raffled. Kay is going to sandwich and quilt the top at home and post it to the lucky winner.
Kay had cut the fabrics before hand, a gorgeous batik square and strips to go around it in lots of different colours. About four or five of us took sewing machines. It was wonderful as ladies who had never quilted before popped in to sew a block, a few were immediately hooked and stayed longer, By Saturday afternoon 80 blocks were made, we spent ages trying to arrange them so the colours and the density were evenly spread…and even longer trimming them all to the same size! Finally we started to sew it together.
Kay had an ingenious way of stitching them together, it’s hard to describe but basically we stitched pairs together in a strip of 10, leaving the connecting thread in between. We could then stitch the next row on, again without breaking the threads, and so on until all 80 blocks were stitched together downwards, but also connected across. It was then fairly easy to stitch the strips together, knowing it was all laid out correctly.
By mid-morning on Sunday, the quilt was complete. Doesn’t it look amazing! It was a wonderful project to be apart of.
We had a fantastic weekend, made new friends, caught up with old ones and we’re already looking forward to Jam Jars and Tent Pegs 2019!