the retreat

I've been looking forward to this craft weekend for ages. Jenny organised it so the we could try out a new place in Woodend called The Retreat. (Thanks Jenny!) The group was mostly women I didn't know, a different group from the Sewjourn regulars. However it was lovely getting to know this group of women, not only did we have craft/sewing in common, it turned out that some of us knew lots of other people in common. Ah, Melbourne northern suburbs, what a strong interwoven mesh of communities.There was much making, much chatting, some instagramming, eating, cups of tea, drinking and chocolate fudge. I do believe a lovely time was had by all.
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I've been going to Sewjourn since it started and it feels like my craft weekend home in some way. So it felt a bit funny to be going somewhere else and perhaps it makes me a bit biased (although I am trying not to be). I think both places have a lot going for them and the women who run them have obviously taken a lot of care in setting them up. Judging by how booked out they are, there is definitely the demand for more craft weekend places. Both The Retreat and Sewjourn provide comfortable self contained accommodation for a group of crafters. But there are some differences and how important they are probably depends on your priorities. At The Retreat the beds are all doubles and there are only two to a room. No bunk room! It was also lovely that we didn't have to take our own sheets and make a bed on arrival. The Retreat's kitchen is flash. The stove is a beauty and there are copper bottomed saucepans, good knives and wooden chopping boards. There is also a really nice deck with an outdoor eating area. The craft room at The Retreat is a good size but depending on where you are sitting, there appeared to be little space to put your boxes of fabric and other craft stuff. People were bumping past each other as they moved around the room. The tables are good but there didn't seem to be enough space for them, or we hadn't worked out their optimum placement. But what I noticed the most was the light, or rather the lack of light. The overhead lights were not particularly bright and there weren't enough extra lights to go around. There was another light up there but we couldn't find the switch for it - I wonder if that would have made the difference? How I missed those big high lights at Sewjourn! If I was to go again I would take a lamp - I have old eyes and light is pretty important to my crafting experience. Despite it being nice that we were all in the same house, I think on balance I prefer the separateness of the Sewjourn studio - good for night owls and early birds to feel they can use noisy sewing machines without disturbing any ones sleep. However I don't think the craft room at The Retreat is in any way terrible, indeed in the days before there were purposely set up craft venues we would have found it pretty fantastic. It's just that to me, the studio at Sewjourn seems to work just a bit better for a large group of busy crafters and sewers. Maybe it's also a time thing, Sewjourn has been going longer and definitely things have evolved.
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For grace, purple bedroom


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Other things I realised I like about Sewjourn that are probably neither here nor there: the short walk into town (very nice if you don't have a car), the views and country feel, the light airy feeling. But the big one for me is that you don't need to clean Sewjourn at the end. No sweeping, mopping or vacuuming  Just empty the fridge, stack the dishwasher, wash up your pots, pack the car and go. I didn't do the big clean at The Retreat as I wasn't in the last group to leave but if I had to choose, I would much, much rather take my own sheets and make a bed than clean at the end. There is enough cleaning and domestic stuff happening at home, thank you very much. That said, both venues are of a high standard and I certainly wouldn't knock back a weekend at The Retreat. Perhaps I might just shift the emphasis from lots of sewing to more cooking and sleeping. Which would not be a bad thing.

This weekend my crafting was pretty low key anyway. I don't think I have fully recovered from leaving work and I'm still having some trouble with sleeping. Even so, I made a blue and black checked linen dress to with home made bias binding. In the low light I didn't realise that the bobbin was dark green rather than black so the top stitching is a bit funny. Calling it a design feature. Also made a green sleeveless t-shirt type top which I am wearing now and which needs some adjustment - involving the unpicker unfortunately. But I am going to do it because I would really like this top if the straps didn't keep falling down. Made most of a brown sun dress in the same pattern. And a Christmas tree for the Sylvanians. As you do. Oh, and I learned how to crochet jewellery wire from some of the ladies making jewellery. Very exciting.

1 comment:

  1. I was in the last group to leave and so I thoroughly agree that having to do a clean at the end of the stay is a complete bummer, a massive anticlimax to a nice weekend. The thing about crafting groups is they are predominantly women and we're there escaping from domestic drudgery, not looking for extra! Also, the studio floor at The Retreat is carpeted and it took a lot of vacuuming to pick up all those little threads - a warning for future users really! I did love the kitchen and the big beds and the lovely bathrooms there though, and as you say the owner has put a lot of effort into making the house comfortable!

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