nourishment for the soul : by angela Stavropoulos / by ali dejohn

For most of my early childhood, I had what now seems like a rare luxury: I grew up very close to my grandparents and spent time with them almost daily. My Grandma Betty was an avid seamstress, crocheter, and overall crafter, and she always had what seemed like a mountain of projects in the works. Now that she is gone from this world, I still sew with her machine, crochet with her massive stash of crochet needles, and binge watch Netflix snuggled under one of her handmade afghans. I learned how to knit with her tools as well, though I had to outsource that instruction – it wasn’t her skill of choice. I feel such an intense and powerful connection to her when I make anything, whether it's a cake, a baby blanket, or just a handmade card (snail mail - another lost art!), and it's one of the aspects of making that I love. The one downside, aside from the fact that there are simply too few hours in a day, is that crafting is often a rather solitary activity. The Makerie presents a whole different creative experience that feels so well-rounded, so perfect, magical even. Working with my hands in the company of friends and fellow crafters, learning new skills and honing old skills at the hands of the amazingly talented artisans and artists that teach the Makerie classes, is such nourishment for the soul.

I attended my first Boulder Makerie event (thank you Mollie Makes magazine for the introduction!), Makerie Sewing, in 2013. I was awestruck the entire weekend. Getting to learn from and work alongside the celebrities of the creative world, such as Jenny Hart, Cal Patch, Amy Butler, and Tamar Mogendorff, to name a few, was an absolute dream. Not only that, but every last detail was so carefully considered and beautifully executed by Ali and her talented, tireless team. From the hand-printed signs that offered encouragement as attendees entered the Chautauqua grounds, to the welcome bags full of local offerings, from the local fare meals with options to suit all dietary needs, to the “cozy cottage” casual crafting sessions that popped up in the evenings. It was absolute perfection, in part because we were there to learn and explicitly allowed to not be perfect. Making things is often centered around giving of oneself, but making beautiful things in an atmosphere centered around nourishing the maker, turns creating into a full-circle experience of giving while receiving. If one is creating while being simultaneously cared for, the end result is bound to be that much more beautiful and infused with love.

The creative people in my life often talk of a sense of imbalance, and for me, the Makerie has become a way to restore balance. I’ve reveled in several Makerie experiences since 2013. It’s a sort of lifeline. I return home from these events with new projects, some completed and some waiting to be doted on some more, a head swimming with new ideas, a proverbial toolbox of new skills, sometimes an actual new tool – yay jigsaw! – and a heart bursting with gratitude for a few days of blissful, creative contentment. The Makerie is a gift that I give myself, in terms of taking the time away from family and work to learn, socialize, eat well, and spend time immersed solely in activities of my choosing. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving, in that it expands my creative horizons, making me a better crafter for sure, but also a better person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, community member... As on the airplane, when flight attendants advise to place your own oxygen mask first, we all need to care for everyday selves so that we can better provide for those who depend on us, and the Makerie is a sort of oxygen mask. It is truly a privilege to attend a Makerie event, and one I don’t take for granted. I am just grateful beyond words for all I have been able to experience thus far!