I wouldn’t have it any other way, really. We’d had a really lovely weekend with friends here for a couple of days and Edward, too. We went to a couple of thought-provoking events at the literature festival (Melvyn Bragg and Michael Dobbs) and had a fun supper at Jamie’s Italian in Cheltenham afterwards. We accepted the management’s birthday greetings and subsequently, their apologies in complimentary bottles of prosecco and after that late night spent Sunday afternoon in a bit of a heap after an indulgent lunch at home.
All of that made it extra hard to get up at 5am on Monday morning, to take Edward to the station on my way up to Lancashire, where I was heading to teach a group of potential WI Craft Judges with my colleague and friend, Linda. They’d sent me all their portfolios already so armed with bags of tracking sheets, assessment criteria and related paperwork together with a boot full of handmade “exhibits”, otherwise known as the contents of my studio, I set off up the M6.
I’ve said previously how much I enjoy this and what a privilege it is to spend time in the company of these talented and extraordinary women and the last three days have been no exception. As they arrived on Monday afternoon, I realised that, although I felt I knew them really well from our email conversations over the summer, I might not actually recognise them at all!
I needn’t have worried – of course I did – and over the next couple of days we had great fun “identifying techniques, acknowledging skills and offering encouragement” as we talked about such things as crocheted fish, made from “plarn” and exquisitely knitted socks (thanks Aprille!) which came with both siblings and cousins, depending on how well the stripes in the yarn had been managed.
Our clever and talented friends had lent us some remarkable items to judge (thanks Marion and Nina!) and the conversation prompted by such beautiful things never stopped. Shirley kept us well fed and Linda had remembered everything else, so that we could focus on the things which interest and intrigue us all – a huge variety of hand made beauties.
Linda and I weren’t the only ones to pull exquisite items from our bags, though. Chris casually took this gorgeous flower out one afternoon and soon had a little crowd around her as we wanted to know who, how, where? (The answer is here by the way and yes, I do want to have a go myself!)
The days were long but sped past in no time and by yesterday lunchtime we were finished. Eight new NFWI Craft Judges left the building and very generously entertained Linda and I to lunch nearby. For almost two hours we never stopped talking and if we’d been able to bottle the knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for crafts that was concentrated on that table, it would have been priceless.
The other lovely thing is that I said ‘bye to eight new friends. That’s priceless, too.