This weekend was my first Jeanius Bag workshop, which was held at Rittermere Hurst Field. It couldn't have been better.
Early Saturday morning, a winter wonderland unfolded as I turned onto Ridge Road. The trees were topped with soft snow, the road was snow covered and not too slippery and there was that special silence created by a blanket of snow. It was magical and I wasn't even there yet.
The studio door was unlocked, and the fireplace in the studio had warmed the entire room, which was all set up for our group. If you haven't been to RHF before, you must. Of all the studios I have visited, it is one of the most intimate. Like every studio, it has rugs on display - rugs of every size, colour, subject matter - it has the requisite shelves brimming with wool - large folded pieces, small specialty pieces - large bolts of backing - tables and shelves brimming with small hooking treasures, books, dyes, etc. But there's something so warm and welcoming about this space that makes it the perfect venue for a workshop.
Coffee was waiting in the kitchen. The smell of fresh baking was confirmed with squares cooling on top of the stove. The group arrived, we chatted over coffee - relishing the adventures of those who had just returned from the Hooked in the Mountains Show in Shelburn, Vermont. Eventually, we made our way back into the studio.
We were a small group, which meant lots of one-on-one time throughout the weekend. Saturday morning was spent finalizing patterns. Some people had theirs on their backing already - others were still deciding what to hook. In the group there was a polar bear (out of polar fleece), a silhouette of a horse jumping, some cats and some paisley curls (inspired by lining fabrics), a primitive heart with appliqued pennies, and a pattern adapted from the design on a much-loved-but-outgrown pair of little girl jeans.
By mid morning, everyone was pulling loops. We weren't the only ones enjoying the warmth of the studio - Tigger the cat was curled up in a wool basket, and Moose, the latest addition to the family, graced us with her presence throughout the day. We shared as many stories as there was time for and before you knew it, day 1 was done. Everyone was at different stages of completion and the goal was to have the flaps of the bags hooked and whipped by the morning, in preparation for assembly on Day 2.
Since life has a habit of intervening, not everyone completed the first phase as planned. One flap was hooked and whipped. Another person had stayed up into the wee hours and had finished her hooking. Others had busy Saturday nites, so they picked up where they left off. It didn't matter, since everyone in our intimate group got to see a couple of assembly demonstrations as soon as people were ready to roll.
At the end of day 2, two people left with bags totally finished, which was exactly what I was hoping for. How amazing to be able to begin Saturday morning and be totally finished by Sunday afternoon! Both finished bags are going to be gifts this Christmas, which is a pretty generous thing to do with your very first bag.
The remaining workshoppers have jean legs ready for when their flaps are hooked. And everyone got the see the assembly process a couple of times, so they will be well prepared to finish without me needing to be there. Everyone was already talking about their "next" bag, which confirms my suspicion that these are highly addictive.
Another eureka moment played out at the workshop as well. I realized that using a pocket from the recycled jeans and sewing it to the back of the bags would be a perfect place for cell-phones or ipods. Or you could hide it under the flap for secret treasures! The more you work with these bags, the better they get. I love that.
So, thanks to my students for making this first workshop a huge success for me. With every step, I feel more confident that there are many, many jeaniuses out there and that these bags will soon be the gift that keeps on giving.
And many, many thanks to RHF for providing the cozy, intimate venue for this perfect first workshop. To all of you reading this blog, check regularly on the RHF website (see link in my links) to find out your next opportunity to participate in a workshop here. (I know that Jeanne has one planned for February, so get yourself registered.) You'll find out for yourself what makes it so special.