Anyone who knows me will know how much I love crafting. Crochet is my proper addiction, but to be honest I’m not fussy as to what craft I turn my hand to, especially if there’s someone there to teach me how to do it right. What might come as a bit of a shock though is the fact that since moving house on 1 July I have only picked up a crochet hook once. Once! That’s pretty much unheard of in my life, but it’s been the reality of a crazily busy couple of months.
I’m hoping that life is about to calm down a bit so that I can pick my crochet hook up again soon. Especially as I had a weak moment earlier this week online where I ended up pre-ordering the yarn kit for a new crochet along. The thing is that I’ve really missed crafting. Crochet, in particular, really grounds me. The relaxing rhythm of it, combined with just making myself sit still in one place for a while whilst not multitasking, does wonders for my wellbeing.
For me a good dose of craft can almost be as rejuvenating as a holiday. I say almost, because even when stuck into a load of crafting sitting on my sofa still isn’t quite the same as a hot beach or a poolside in gorgeous sunshine. Realising how much I was missing regular crafting meant that I absolutely jumped at an invitation from James Villas to go along to a crafternoon with them at the fantastic Drink, Shop & Do in London’s Kings Cross. I’m lucky enough to have been to Drink, Shop & Do several time before through this blog and I never fail to have a good time there.
This time around, the aim of the James Villa event was to look at how we can all try to extend that holiday feeling a bit longer by learning how to Bring Holiday Home through a spot of holiday themed crafting. They had two projects lined up for us all for the afternoon – firstly some ikat loom weaving with the wonderfully names Daughters of Weave, from the Temple of Loom. I’ve never managed to get to grips with weaving before, always pulling it too tight or leaving it too loose, and I’d also never worked out how to do colour changes or anything patterned.
Ikat is a dying technique that is used to dye the threads before they are woven. With one of the characteristics being a blurriness to the end design I figured it was the perfect way to try out some proper weaving for the first time. With all Chloe’s patience in explaining things to me several times I think I actually managed to get the hang of it. I have never before got as far as actually taking my weaving off the loom, so that in itself was progress for me. The end result is hung up at home as a lovely reminder of what it’s possible to achieve when you have some help and time to dedicate to it.
The second project for the afternoon was one that had actually become a bit of a challenge in my life over the last couple of years. Won over by the sight of an espadrilles project in an old edition of Mollie Makes I headed over to Amazon and bought myself a soles and pattern kit to make a pair for myself. Upon opening the kit fear took over and they were quickly stuffed to the bottom of a craft box where they have remained ever since. I’m a firm believer that the best thing to do with fears in life is face them head on, and that’s what I was hoping this James Villas crafternoon would do with their espadrilles making session with the amazing Ota from Luchi and Ota.
It’s fair to say that with Ota in a room there is simply no time or space for anyone to have any fears or other qualms about sewing anything. Her enthusiastic manner simply takes over and you’re all left full of her confidence that you can, and will, leave with a completed project – even if it was just one shoe in the limited time we had available! Even non-sewer Gary from the James Villas team went home with one espadrille. It may not have been in his size, but let’s not worry about a small detail like that…
It’s impossible not to associate espadrilles with holidays, especially hot summer ones. It may be the case that my finished shoes are initially only used to take the bins out or hang the washing on the line, but each time I wear them to do so I will at least be thinking about hot summer holidays. And that’s the whole point of the Bring Holiday Home event from James Villas. Holidays are wonderful things, but at most they are only a week or two at a time. We all need rest and relaxation in our lives to make sure that we are tackling the rest of our busy lives at full pelt so if we can extend that holiday feeling for longer then it has to be a good thing.
The whole crafternoon was a wonderful opportunity to ground myself again with a serious dose of crafting. As I headed home on the train later that evening I felt a real sense of calm. Life recently has been crazily busy, stressful and emotional like never before, yet an afternoon of craft, great company, wonderful food and a couple of holiday cocktails had done so much to lift me up. It was like I’d properly recharged my batteries. Thank you James Villas for basically making me feel like I’d been on holiday!
With all the changes at home this last summer’s holiday wasn’t further than a campsite in Nottinghamshire, but we know that next year we’ll all be needing something a bit more relaxing, and possibly luxurious too. The changed family shape and size also means that we’re considering a villa holiday as a way of meeting everyone’s needs and wants.
When you go on holiday you want it to be right. You want to make sure that the company you’re going with will look after you in the best way that they can. I’ve known several people that have been on James Villas holidays over the years and one thing that has always truck me is that I have never heard of anyone with anything bad to say about them. They all thought that their accommodation was totally up to to the standard they were expecting, if not exceeding it, and on the few occasions there have been problems the customer service to sort them out has been spot on.
As we all sat sheltered in the back room of Drink, Shop & Do it was just as Hurricane Irma was starting to wreck havoc in Florida. With the forecasts and warnings in the James Villas staff that we were with were constantly checking back with base as to what was being done to support their customers who were either already out in Florida or due to head out there. To me the true strength of a company’s customer service is how they deal with situations like that without losing their cool. The team that were with us were not exactly on the front line (heck they were busy learning to weave and sew instead!) but they were all fully briefed on what was going on, how their customers were responding and ensuring that everyone was safe and able to enjoy their holiday as much as possible. That’s proper customer service.
It’s highly likely that we’ll be looking at a villa holiday for our next family holiday and based on what I’ve seen James Villas will be top of the list of companies to book with. Until they though I’ll be concentrating on how to bring my holiday home and think of the sunshine the next time I pop on my espadrilles to take out the bin!
Disclaimer: I was a guest of James Villas at this crafternoon event at the wonderful Drink, Shop & Do. All opinions remain my own. This post contains an affiliate link.