After a week that ended with me a bloody mess, because the brain, this weekend has been an utter joy. My birthday gift from the lovely Mate was tickets to the Soul Craft Festival held this weekend at the Meat Market, North Melbourne. As per its name, it was a festival for the soul for those of us who craft.
There was a section of couches to chill on, a great big hall of long tables for eating and chatting at, a food vendor whose wares looked wonderful (I’m skint so I took my own food both days), the absolutely required marketplace, the long workshops (again, skint so didn’t do those), a small gallery of works, craft dating, and then two stages and several demo spaces where talks and demonstrations ran every hour. It was up to you where you took it. You could chill with your friends, rampage around the marketplace, attend every demo or talk, or just space it out with a bit of everything. The general layout was easy to navigate, it got a wee bit noisy from time to time but was pretty good overall*, a jumper was required as the venue is one of those large open layout ones that are a bit cool (but not cold) at this time of year in Melbourne, and the decorations around the place were a really lovely touch.
It was also eco-friendly. You bought your own bags and washable coffee cups, everything was recyclable. They asked us to go as cash-free as we could and avoid printing tickets or the timetables.
So, starting with the important things… STASH!!! I was in ferret shock. So many vendors, so much pretty, and all Australian. My favorite thing was the number of Australian farmers and eco-friendly yarn producers there were. I was especially stoked to run across a permaculture farmed wool! Eeeeee!! I have a memory like a sieve so here are the business cards I took photos of.
And of course I added to my stash! Check out this beautiful hand dyed wool I’m going to be making a jumper out of:
Onwards to the talks. I attended a few. Being my first baby-free weekend in the 5 months Rabbit has been with us I was pretty tired and I found myself leaving the house later so I could sleep in and vaguing out pretty badly in the later afternoon sessions. That’s on me, not the presenters. There was a full complement of speakers and topics to be looked in on (see the program here). There really was something for everyone and every speaker I saw was a delight. The ones I particularly enjoyed were Refashioning Your Wardrobe with Jane Milburn, Why We Don’t Need Talent to Make with Felicia Semple, and The Ongoing Practice of Stashless with Felicia Semple. Each of these needs a separate post to articulate the why and my feelings about them and those will be coming.
This was the festivals very first year and I really hope they run it again. Would I make any changes?
In the negative? No. There was nothing I would take away from the festival.
I would add a tiny handful of things to it:
- A quiet zone: while it wasn’t hugely packed in or crowded it was busy enough to be very much over stimulating to someone with sensory issues*
- A skill share space: Somewhere that we attendees could comfortably sit and share our skills with each other. Many people just struck up conversations, but for someone shy like myself a place we could go to trade hints and tips would be a fun way to network.
- An Open Stage or Curated Discussion Space: Probably due to Confest, but by the end of day 1 I really wanted to get up and talk about things and get opinions etc. We could ask questions of presenters but somewhere a bit less formal where attendees could do a 30 or 40min presentation, or run a discussion on a topic dear to them would be really beneficial for community building I think.
Look, overall, I loved this. Every minute of it. I will be there next year if it runs again. I’d love to take a master class even, although I had so much fun as it was I don’t need to. I really do recommend the Soul Craft Festival to anyone who passionately loves their crafting.
*Of the two days Sunday was quieter and probably the best option for anyone with sensory issues to attend.