Last year I attended Handmade 2011. It was a celebration of all things craft, held over Queen's Birthday weekend. I learned how to create dresses, bags and aprons out of pillowcases and had a generally fantastic time. It was mostly fantastic getting some time away from the kids - at the time I think that it was the longest I'd been away from my then ten month old daughter. Prior to attending I had done a little sewing, and over the last year I have quite enjoyed making a hobby out of sewing. I now attend a community sewing group and have made a lot of clothes for the girls over the last year.
But I'm still quite an amateur when it comes to sewing. Every now and then I'll be working on something and will do something quite wrong - I just don't have a lot of basic technique under my belt. So I thought that it would be good to do another sewing class. I enrolled in a class where we learnt how to make padded bags for storage. The day before Handmade began I was fortunate enough to win tickets to a Masterclass with Linda Hallinan from NZ Garden. I was thrilled. I'd seriously considered attending this class as I love her writing style and her enthusiastic approach so free tickets were very appreciated!
The bag class was great fun and has been a good way to use up some small ends from my rather amateur curtain making. It was quite easy to make one bag in the two hour time slot and I cut out enough extra material to make two more that night (I figured that it would help me to reinforce what I learnt). I had a bit of a disaster trying to add the handles myself - something I hate about sewing is all the complexity that comes when you are sewing things inside out (and it is worse with lined objects) as my mind does not visualise this kind of thing well. Oh well. Good practice I suppose (gritted teeth).
I had thirty minutes BY MYSELF between classes (if you are a parent you will understand). I had trouble dealing with the freedom, but enjoyed an interruption free lunch and a look around the gift shop.
The masterclass was awesome. Lynda Hallinan is a great speaker - managed to make the session feel very intimate and friendly even though we were in a large theatre. She brought along her damson plum gin (amazing) and quince gin to try. She also brought along ingredients to make a ginger beer bug and packaged it up for everyone to take home. I learnt a a lot - I have about ten pages of notes! Much of this information, and the recipe for making a ginger beer bug is on her website.
I've made the bug and actually grown some bug babies. I've read online that bugs can improve with age so I'm keen to see if that worked. The first batch was very fizzy - it seemed simply dense with bubbles. I've got a batch from my fourth generation batch brewing right now and I'll see how that one works.