Monday, 12 August 2013

My Weekend at Folksy Summer School


If you didn't already know from my hyper-tweeting last week, I went to Folksy Summer School all weekend!


I had a brilliant time, surrounded by people who are just like me! The event was very relaxed and bohemian, with lots of events all happening at the same time so you could wander around and take things slowly, or schedule in events to get the most of your time there.

I took a mixed approach, ambling in and out of the classroom tent to listen to the speakers I felt would be relevant, and taking in the craft demonstrations as well, with a one-to-one with Patricia van den Akker of The Design Trust (the woman is brilliant, seriously brilliant) and an inspiring, product photography class with Lyndsey James too. 



The location was Ecclesall Woods in Sheffield; another big motivation behind my buying tickets, as us Northerners often feel such events are lost to London. I was impressed that Folksy decided to hold this event in their hometown. As Folksy owner James Boardwell casually put it, "well we often walk our dog here, so you know... it just made sense." I felt the woodland environment really contributed to the relaxed holiday feel. A conference centre in the middle of a city would have felt much more 'corporate training weekend'. 



Despite the venue feeling quite intimate, the weekend was jam-packed with quality events. The speakers were lined up at a heady pace over the two days - around twenty-four in total - and including Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation, Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons and The Great British Sewing Bee fame, Claire Bates of Landbaby, Polly Dugdale of Handmade Horizons and Chloe Haywood of Hatastic.

I filled an entire notebook with their advice and ideas and food for thought, and have some pretty testing business homework to do this week! 


There were craft demonstrations in screenprinting (Sue Westergaard, below, was a marvel), bookbinding, letterpress, sewing and crochet. The Amazings were demonstrating knitting, wet felting and mosaics. The photography classes were happening in a wonky wooden hut called Hector's House, and in amongst it all was yummy coffee, tea and fruit in constant supply, delicious sandwiches for sale (I'm sick of sandwiches so I don't say that lightly. Best sarnie ever, folks), and a tuck shop run by local shop Cocoa







Highlights of my weekend included: 

  • Having lots of 'yes, that's me!' moments in the classroom and scribbling tonnes of notes - that full notebook alone is worth the cost of attending this weekend. Quality advice covering every aspect of my business is bargainous training indeed. 
  • Eating lunch in the sunshine, looking up, seeing the editor of Mollie Makes, the owner of Folksy, The Amazings and Doug Richard of Dragons' Den and School for Startups chatting away to attendees around me and thinking, 'heh! Mad world!' I loved that the speakers mixed in with everyone, no one made a big deal of it, one-to-ones were conducted perched on tree stumps, and all the speakers attended one another's talks so they too could learn.
  • A serene feeling of utter belonging to and passion for the world of handmade and craft. The sure knowledge, when surrounded by so much enthusiasm for this world, that I too have found my rightful place, and all the hard work is so worth it. 
  • Photography 'aha' moments. Winter photography for this blog is an issue for half my year!
  • Meeting new friends, and knowing immediately we'll get on because of our love of craft and community. Sharing a taxi from the train station with someone I met on Twitter. 
  • Coming away from the weekend with an action plan, enthusiasm and inspiration. I wish I could bottle the stuff.








As well as the major achievements of choosing such a suitable venue, pulling in big name speakers and combining them with lesser-known speakers with lots to say and inspiring stories to tell, and making sure the flow of the event worked, I noted lots of details throughout the weekend which all added up to make Folksy Summer School special. Things like the constant supply of refreshments with a trusting 'help yourself' attitude, volunteers who genuinely never stopped smiling and handing out sweets (yes yes, food impresses me!), emails before the event with every detail about what to expect during the weekend and how to get the most out of it, a relaxed, non-supervisory attitude on the part of the organisers so we felt at home, and free ice lollies in the intervals! 




As well as the images I snapped as I took in the experience, you'll find a tonne of pictures will emerge over the next few days via Folksy's Tumblr page, as well as #FolksySS and #folksyschool.

I'm back off to the day job this morning, but you can be sure I'll be typing up my notes in my lunchbreak.




30 comments:

  1. Hi I was one of the volunteers on Saturday, loved your blog and wish I had taken some lovely pictures.

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  2. Thanks for mentioning the volunteers, I managed to bag myself the privileged job of handing out the sweets on Saturday morning in an attempt to make myself the most popular person at the event. The reason the volunteers were so smiley was a combination of genuine pleasure to be a part of it and ingestion of enormous amounts of sugar. Oh yes, and THAT coffee...
    Also, I am in one of your photos walking in front of the lovely Lianne Mellor from Mellorware. I wondered if I might turn up on someone's blog! Lovely post, looking forward to seeing more.

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    1. You were, I reckon, the smiliest volunteer of them all! Mmm... coffee.

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    2. Huzzah, I'm a WINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

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  3. So envious that you got to go to this! It looks heavenly!! Maybe next year? It sounds as though you had an amazing time and would love to see some blog posts about what you learnt, particularly the photography aspect because I also suffer from winter photography blues! Xx

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    1. I hope there will be a school next year and that you get to go! Check out Lyndsey James' blog for handy tips. x

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  4. How lovely ... summer school for ladies! It's a fab idea and one I hope catches on nationwide ... thanks for sharing with us, love your amazing pics ... I sound a bit over-excited don't I, calm down!!

    Have a wonderful week

    Love Claire xxx

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    1. It was super exciting - and there were chaps there too! x

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  5. Wow ow, what a great day, good for us Northeners who can feel a little neglected! :) x

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    1. Definitely, Northerners were well catered for this weekend, and it was nice to see how many people had travelled from elsewhere in the UK too. x

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  6. I went too and agree with your comments. It was a beautiful and laid back weekend which managed to be very informative and inspiring too. I've put a few photos on my blog streetcomber.blogspot.com but there'll be lots more tomorrow when I write part II.

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    1. I've not heard a bad word said about it!

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  7. Do they do it down south? I want to play! Eco Ethel xx

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    1. This was a one-off event in Folksy's hometown Ethel, but hopefully they'll be holding it again next year! x

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  8. My friend went to this too. I hope they do one next year, I'd love to go.

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  9. Wow! Literally all I can say.
    Lauren x

    lollipopsanddewdrops.blogspot.com

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  10. How did I not know about this! This looks so cool - I wish I'd gone. Looks like you had a great day.

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  11. It looks amazing Anna, so wish I could have gone but a bit too far for me, your photos are fab. And all the brilliant people you met, I am Jealous!!!!!!

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  12. Such a lovely writeup! For some reason I didn't really take many photos - probably because my brain was exploding with information!

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  13. A lovely run-down of the weekend! I do love the fact that crafters are so nice that you can grab a taxi-pal at 9pm the night before, with no need to use the secret spy password!

    I second (third, fourth) the lovely-ness of the volunteers, the only problem was I didn't get twitter names from any of them to keep chatting!

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    1. It was so lovely to meet you Katy! I completely forgot to use our secret spy password so glad you *somehow* managed to locate me anyway. Two volunteers have commented above if that helps! x

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    2. If it's any help, I was (officially, see above) the smiliest volunteer, on Twitter I'm @startledhare

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  14. Oh and you got a picture of my little bike!!!

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  15. I am mega jealous, this looks fantastic!

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  16. Great write up - you obviously enjoyed it as well as finding it very useful. I couldn't attend this one because my daughter chose the same weekend for her wedding! Anyway I have really enjoyed reading about it and I want to go even more now so I hope they do it again!

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  17. That looks like such an amazing event :) xxx

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  18. Sounds like heaven! Thanks for sharing it all - I feel inspired just looking at the photos!

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