Retreating Beautifully

Retreating Beautifully

My first group were felting novices, learning to felt a vessel over a flat resist. They were all super-creative and keen, producing some outstanding vessels that I hope they are all proudly displaying.

The second and third events were at the Auckland Creative Fibre Retreats. These are amazing weekends away where 20-30 fibre enthusiasts converge at a retreat centre to focus on all things fibre while a wonderful team from the centre look after us, feeding us and keeping us supplied with tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

These retreats are great opportunities to learn new skills, share ideas and teach (if you want to). I offered to teach felted soaps and it was a huge hit, with each person producing at least 2 beautiful soaps.

In return Shaz (in the green sweater) taught us a cable / crepe-style plying technique. This is the first stage:

And the finished yarn:

I am the first to admit this skein is a tad garish, however, Shaz also shared some gorgeous versions she had made with less contrasting colours. This is definitely a technique I would like to try again in different colour ways and with finer, more evenly spun yarn – this yarn was a bit rushed as we were all trying to finish the hank before dinner!

I also managed to finish / make progress on a couple of crochet projects at the retreats. This poncho is a brioche crochet project I started in 2021, the pattern I was following required quite a lot of focus so this project only saw the light of day when I knew I wouldn’t be multi-tasking, hence it took so long to complete.

I also made some good headway on a brioche cushion cover I started in August. I’m not following a pattern for this one, just making it up as I go. This is using some hand-spun yarn that I dyed before plying it a few months ago. The colours are brighter IRL and it reminds me of light coming through a stained glass window.

The retreats definitely aren’t all work, knowing you have comfy bed to fall into and don’t need to drive home, most of us arrived well supplied with chocolate, wine and other beverages…. (don’t be fooled by the oranges, they were just for show! 🙂 )

An awesome time was had by all!

If you ever find yourself near south Auckland I enthusiastically recommend a visit to the Franklin Arts Centre in Pukekohe, they have 2 excellent exhibition spaces and run a varied program of affordable arts and crafts courses from their workshop.

15 thoughts on “Retreating Beautifully

  1. That sounds like a really super and creative weekend Teri. Feeling quite envious here. I can see that all the ladies are very talented – their first time bowls are really beautiful and their felted soaps are the first of many (I wonder if anyone mentioned the Christmas word while making them!)
    I had to check out Brioche Crochet (got lots of articles on croissants but finally found what it is). It’s intriguing and appears very complex but wow! what results. Your two pieces are stunning.
    As we say in Ireland, I’m getting the vibe that the craic was 90 when you were all not creating. A net of oranges does not a balanced meal make when surrounded by cocktail glasses and ingredients but I bet the Tequila Sunrises, Mimosas and Screwdrivers were to die for!
    Helene x

    1. The “C” word was mentioned after both felted soap classes, I am expecting Kiwi bathrooms up and down the land to be adorned with beautiful, colourful soaps by January! 🙂

      I think your Google search history is giving you away Helen – have you been searching for sweet treats before searching for brioche crochet?! 😉 Following text patterns for brioche crochet is challenging but there are just a handful of quite simple stitches (mostly variations on front post crochet) so once you have those figured out, making up the pattern as you go along is easier than it looks!

      You have taught me a new Irish phrase 🙂 I was familiar with “the craic” (although I though it was spelled crack) but had to look up “the craic is 90” – this is what I found for everyone else’s benefit….

      A fantastic, brilliant time. The craic, pronounced crack, refers to the laughter and banter that goes with having a good night out with friends. If the craic was 90 then it means it was exceptionally good and you were having the time of your life.

      Yup – that is a fair assessment of the CF retreats! 🙂

    2. Glad you checked it out Teri. The crack being 90 might put you in the line for totally different interest from the constabulary!
      I will definitely have to clear my search history …. one of these days. But I would swap a croissant for a tequila sunrise and creative company any day!
      I will put brioche crochet on my very long to do list.

  2. What a fun weekend, Teri! I’d love to go to a creative retreat one day.

    Those bowls look amazing, the colour combos are stunning (the purple and blue one is my favourite). Would they be to keep the oranges that were just for show? 😉

    Also, loving your brioche! I’m slightly jealous of your ability, learning to do brioche knitting has been on my list for a really long time and I still haven’t gotten around to it…

    1. You would fit right in at any of the CF retreats Leonor – everyone is constantly playing with fluff – spinning, weaving, felting, knitting and crochet among other crafts (we had people making stitch markers from beads and scissor pouches from old greetings cards at the last retreat).

      I was super impressed with the bowls they all made, none of them had felted before and the colour combinations they chose were divine!

      I suspect brioche crochet is easier than brioche knitting but that may be because I can’t really knit, stocking stitch is my limit on the knitting front! 🙂

  3. Teri you taught your students well – they have created lovely colour combo bowls & soaps.

    Sounds like you had one hell of a great retreat, with plenty of lung & stomach exercises….and managed to produce something too?!

    Your crochet creations are fab.
    Brioche crochet….I love crochet (yuk, to knitting!) but that is a new one on me….so I’m off down yet another rabbit hole….thanx 🤪 x

    1. Thank you Antje, I love brioche crochet, definitely worth exploring if you like the look / style of it, say hi to Alice if you see her down your rabbit hole 🙂

  4. It all sounded great fun. It’s so nice when you go away on a craft holiday and someone else does all the catering. You can just enjoy yourselves, and in this case learn as well. The retreats I used to go on with the Dorset Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers were all “do your own thing” events, but I suspect that learning new things would have been in there too, if anyone had thought of it! I always had to go on a diet when we got back.
    I still can’t work out what Brioche crochet is, nor why it’s called that. I must get Mr Google to help me find out about it. I do crochet, but mainly Tunisian which I love. I find it difficult to deal with text patterns, preferring diagrams – much easier to follow.
    How I wish I could get to NZ but I can’t see it happening I’m afraid.

    1. I think brioche crochet was named after brioche knitting because the finished look is similar but I have no idea how brioche knitting got its name?!!

      The retreats are a real treat, great opportunity to catch up with people I don’t get to see very often, relax, enjoy some cake and a tipple and pick up some tips / learn a new skill.

  5. Looks like a wonderful retreat and you did a great job teaching beginner felt makers. Your crochet is wonderful and I don’t need to know how to do it but never heard of it before either. I just got back from my annual art retreat which I will be posting about soon 🙂

    1. Glad I could enlighten such a knowledgeable bunch! Really did not expect brioche crochet to be a novelty but totally understand it is not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m fascinated by Tunisian crochet but doubt it is really for me (the finished fabric looks too thick for our warm Auckland winters).

      Looking forward to your art retreat post!

    2. You can end up with very thick work with Tunisian if you use a coarse or thick yarn with a hook that’s not really big enough (my first make was a pair of oven gloves) but if you use a fine yarn with a thick hook you can get a very lacy result. I quite often include broomstick crochet in my pieces. It’s easy to do and they go very well together.
      You’ve just given me another post subject!

  6. I agree it is so nice to be able to teach face to face again. It looks like they had fun. I am envious of you have a retreat. Its been a long time since I went to a sleep away event with workshops. It is always s much fun to meet other creative people.

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