I spent this past weekend in the whirlwind known as the Craftcation Conference in Ventura, CA! It’s an annual event put on by the team at Dear Handmade Life, packed full of craft workshops and creative business classes. I sat on two panels – one about licensing and one about writing/publishing a book – and taught two crochet classes – Beginning Crochet and then a more project-based class to make flower headbands. I made a lot of new friends and also met a lot of people I’d only known on the internet, like Jenny Hart and Mei Pak.
I’ll start with one of the high points of the conference for me: my flower head band class. It was the first time I’d ever taught this class, and everyone finished a head band (someone even finished TWO!) during the 90 minute time slot. This was Sunday, the last class period for the entire conference, and it was the perfect finale. We had absolute beginners who were a joy to teach, and we had some experienced crocheters who just wanted to hang out and make something fun. As a teacher, I really learned that 30 people in a class is too much for me to be able to give everyone individual attention. Our smaller class size here helped to keep everything relaxed and happy.
Here are some close-ups of people working on their projects!
I was so proud of everybody!
I also ended up taking the train to the airport with two gals from my class, so that was extra fun, too.
Okay, I have to show you the pop-up shop. It was Willy Wonka themed and stocked full of books and kits and crafty goodness! I snapped a few photos after the shop was closed. Normally it was pretty busy with a long line!
So the conference started on Thursday, and I flew in on Thursday afternoon. My friend Truck from 100% Soft said he could give me an hour-long ride to Ventura, so that was super nice to chat with a buddy along the way. Plus I tried La Croix for the first time. As soon as I arrived, I checked into the hotel, brushed my teeth, and then tried to figure out the dinner situation. As it turned out, I hopped onto a school bus which was our trusty shuttle, and off we went to the dinner location. People don’t like to believe me when I say I am shy and an introvert, but those things are true, and I get nervous about not knowing anybody in a big group situation. Luckily, someone stepping onto the bus was like OH HI TWINKIE CHAN, and then Pia became my bus buddy. Dinner was outside, and I also signed books with some other crafty authors. At some point, I also got bit by a mosquito in the middle of my forehead, so if you saw me and wondered… THAT WAS A BUG BITE. NOT A ZIT.
I was sharing my hotel room with another teacher, and when I got to my room, she was already asleep. We were kind of like the Odd Couple, but she was really nice and we had some cool chats and also were both on the book-writing/publishing panel together the next day. So on Friday, I sat in on a social media workshop and spoke on my two panels. Lunch was hosted at City Hall, which was another shuttle situation, but I got super lucky and was adopted by some gals who had a car, and I basically glommed onto them for the rest of the weekend. Here’s me and my crochet buddy Jamie Leigh. A lot of people felt that the hotel conference rooms were cold (perfect for sweaty me!) and she ended up dragging out a hotel comforter at some point!
After my panels, I didn’t really know what my dinner plan was. Jamie ended up txting me to come to happy hour, so we ate $5 happy hour snacks and chatted away with some other crafty peeps.
On Saturday, I had an 8am phone interview with a journalist who was writing a crochet-related article for Associated Press, and then I decided to take it easy and not go to any morning classes. Manda texted me and surprise sent room service to my hotel room! That was pretty rad!
I was getting a new roommate that day, so I definitely wanted to get out of my hotel room so they could give my new roommate some fresh sheets. I bumped into Jamie Leigh downstairs and decided to go with them to lunch again. We ended up picking up food at City Hall and then eating on the beach!
At one point I was about to complain that my cookie was really gritty, but as it turned out, I was eating some sand….
After lunch, I went to Mei’s class on automating/hiring help. I already do some of that, but I’m always interested in hearing other people’s experiences and wisdom about expanding a business. Definitely learned a lot! Mei offers consulting as well via her company Creative Hive if y’all are interested. Right afterward, I jetted upstairs to prep for my Beginner Crochet class.
I’ll be completely upfront: I don’t end up teaching classes in-person a lot (vs. teaching online via YouTube or Creativebug). When I do offer them on occasion, I don’t get very many sign-ups. I think this is because I never want to offer just basic crochet. I want to offer something fun like a donut-magnet class or a bonbon garland class, and I think they might sound too hard and scare people away. I decided to keep it really simple this time, and boy did it ever work. I ended up with 30+ people in my class. I wasn’t sure how I was going to teach absolute beginners with these kinds of numbers, but I did my best!! Someone called a friend randomly to be my assistant, and I was so grateful for Adwoa‘s help!
A lot of people did end up with single crochet rectangles, which was my goal, and I hope that most people were able to get a little taste of what crochet is about. It was a bit crazy in there, and I kept hopping from table to table. I worked up a sweat!
Afterward, I chatted with my buddy Aileen, who was my roommate once upon a time in Vegas at Licensing Expo. Then I had a fun dinner “off campus” at The Cave with Kiki from Calgary who is starting up a DIY studio called Pinnovate. The food was really good, the company was fun, would do again A+++.
And then Sunday was my crochet head band class that I mentioned above. My flight home was delayed almost 3 hours, and I survived on a blueberry muffin and a granola bar.
I’m so tired, but I would do it again. If you’re a crafter who is interested in learning a new craft just for fun, hanging out with crafty folk, or picking up some business tips, think about Craftcation for 2018! Maybe I’ll see you there ;).