Q. What do you do when the light’s fading and the dark winter months are ahead of you?
A. You go on a Colour and Crochet Retreat!
That’s exactly what we did this November at Quaker Barns in Haveringland – and it was amazing!
I believe passionately in the transformative power of colour, the importance of social engagement and the need to make time for the activities we enjoy – and this weekend retreat provided the perfect environment for all of these things. It was a creative retreat designed to enrich the mind, body and spirit – in a light hearted and playful manner.
A retreat, by definition, is the act of pulling away from something, and for most people going on a modern creative retreat simply means taking time out from the daily routine and ‘recharging the batteries’.
It should be no surprise that the concept of a creative or spiritual retreat has become the mainstream and ‘The Experience Economy’ is booming as people are turning their backs on conventional material culture. Modern life for many people is a strange and confusing mix of wanting more – but needing less. We’re encouraged to own more, eat more and spend more in our relentless search for happiness and meaning but we’re also becoming more conscious of how the junk we have consumed so readily is making us physically, mentally and morally ill.
Most of us probably know that we’re looking for happiness in all the wrong places, but the signs leading to Extrinsic fulfilment are so shiny and neon bright that we’re naturally drawn to them.
It’s a well documented fact that the pursuit of extrinsic values (such as what other people think of us – measured by likes on Instagram for example) can contribute to depression and anxiety but these are the values that have taken over our culture.The culture that feeds us junk food for the soul has created a society that is less than healthy and certainly less happy than it could be.
So how can a retreat help us find balance in our lives?
For a weekend in November a group of us gathered together and found out…….
The super talented restaurateur Jane Raffles was with us all weekend preparing deliciously nourishing food served with good will and a side order of excellent conversation.
Our first workshop was a playful foray into collage and colour theory. We worked quickly and instinctively across the whole spectrum and generated colourful ‘yarn wraps’ as potential inspiration for future projects
On Saturday we began the day with an optional guided meditation to ignite our creative potential and worked on creating ‘moodboards’, colour harmonies and experimental crochet samples.
We were also joined by the lovely Kathy Webb who provided massage therapies throughout the day. A quiet aromatic space and the choice of a head and shoulders massage or reflexology resulted in a beautiful day of calm and relaxed crafting.
After dinner on Saturday we congregated around the wood burner sharing wine and stories of our lives until the early hours. It was a genuinely lovely evening, and one that I will treasure.
Sunday morning was spent continuing with our crochet and colour investigations and some future crochet projects were planned. The brilliant photographer Boo Marshall joined us in the morning before our final meal together and some emotional farewells at 3pm.
This was my first crochet retreat and I feel blessed to have shared it with a group of wonderful people. It’s our Intrinsic values that point to a more fulfilled and happier life. These are the things we do simply for the pleasure and joy they bring. No-one’s measuring you, judging or comparing you. You’re not scoring points, looking for likes or trying to win the argument. You’re simply finding pleasure in whatever it is you’re doing at the time; chatting, crafting, eating, walking – joy can be found in everyday places if you have the discipline to ignore and walk past the flashy neon signs.
This experience reminded me of the importance of these intrinsic pleasures and the power of the Ordinary. None of us travelled very far, our food was simple and home cooked and our activities were handcrafted, yet we all left feeling that we’d had a wonderful and memorable experience.
We made the Ordinary Extraordinary.
I’m looking forward to my Crochet and Wellbeing Retreat in January and I have one twin room available if you’d like to come with your mum, your sister, daughter, partner or other favourite crafting companion.