Our weekend was organised by Natasha from the gorgeous blog Taking A Moment In Time, (her photos are stunning), but this weekend Natasha was putting on her chef's hat and playing host and house mother to us all.
The retreat location was over-looking Rye and came through Air bnb. The large house had a swimming pool (which I didn't use, much to my shame as I am not a natural swimmer), but the pool was enjoyed very much by the other ladies and added an extra touch to our holiday mood. It had stunning views and a great open plan communal area so we could chat to Natasha while she was cooking and she could hear us nattering away.
Our host Natasha is a yarn fanatic herself and like all true creatives, she loves to know all the elements of the process.
Something I had never even considered before as a knitter, is dyeing wool myself, and realise now that this is such a fabulous idea because you can create your own individual colour or hue or even speckled wool.
Natasha called in the expert - Kristina from Written In Cloth who helped us prepare un-dyed wool and let us make a mess adding colour to it. It was enormously satisfying, Im going to have to think what I will knit with mine.
Kristina's real passion however is using her dyed yarn to weave with and on her website you can get yourself one of these hand woven bags. I think she takes weaving to a whole new level and is clearly such a perfectionist in her work, I must go and check out all her looms sometime.
There are lots of reasons why it's good to go on a long weekend retreat. For me, I like to have a laugh with other women and hear about their lives, everyone has such an interesting story to tell.
Because I already knew Natasha, Jeska and Dean I had no worries that I would get on with at least some of the people, but having just read Anne's blog, I now realise that for a first timer it could be quite daunting to commit too.
Some of the ladies hadn't left their children in a long while and for them it was their first weekend alone to unwind, be waited on, and catch up on their crochet projects. This kind of alone time cannot be underestimated, Im not a parent but it is clear that a break from the child rearing routine, if only for a few days, can do so much for your soul, remind you of who you were before you became a mummy, realise there are other makers with the same passion, and put the world into perspective.
We all learnt some new skills, and I spent a morning showing the group how to knit fairisle nordic gloves on circular needles.
Natasha went to such a huge effort to cater for our needs, we had gifts every meal time, all her food was made from scratch; bread, pesto, and a salad which we have all demanded the recipe for as it had the most tasty combination of ingredients,even the rhubarb was grown in her garden. She is a lady with very high standards who concentrates on all the details being exactly perfect.
If you are interested in joining Natasha on another of her 'Taking A Moment In Time' retreats then check her out on facebook and instagram. The next one is in Romania where we will be shown many folk crafts including weaving, so I have signed up for that, and hope to partake in many more to come both home and away.
As I've mentioned, Anne has also written a blog and you would never believe it is the first time she has ever done one, so if you want another sided review of what it's like to go on a retreat then please do have a look at Ditsy Pips.
I am a big advocate for forming communities of like-minded individuals, women who can network and get advice and inspiration for their cottage industries and how to take them further. It's a new twist on the business conference or chatting on the golf course.
This kind of weekend is essential to anyone wanting to expand their skills and garner ideas on how to do it. So I was chuffed to see that Anne and Kate had immediately got home and written their first ever blogs. Kates blog is Moonchilds Treasures.
As most creatives are sat at home working away on their projects alone, a weekend away is a real energy boost. I can really recommend it and particularly with Natasha as she gives amazing value for money with a lovely bag of freebies to come home with, a full tummy and a head buzzing with ideas. With Natasha you don't need to worry about going hungry, she appreciates being told what you want and when you want it, trust me you won't go hungry.