In 2009, I had the brilliant idea to start teaching knitting retreats here at our farm. Here and here are blog posts from the very first year. That was pre-studio space, pre-Farmers Market biz. I had to be nuts inviting strangers into our home but I wanted to offer my teaching from my home base so that I didn't have to leave Julia and Mark and could still bring in some income. And besides, knitters are nice people and my friends helped.
What I didn't realize when I was beginning these classes in 2009 was that I was part of the trend and business cycle. My theory on this now is that people are looking to spend their disposable income more on experiences rather on buying things and that is why these big retailers are having trouble. Oh yeah - and on-line sales - that too. After the financial crisis of 2008 and our so-called recovery, I think people are looking more for learning experiences rather than things. My classes right here at our farm fit right into that zeitgeist.
I've run these classes every year since 2009 with varying degrees of success. Don't get me wrong - the classes are always a success just maybe not financially for me. It takes a very special person - an adventurer and someone not fearful of stepping into the unknown - to sign up and venture to the hinterlands of western Mass. We all have a blast - everyone learns a lot - including me. The really great thing is students that make the trip often come back a second time for another round of classes. I get to share so much more than I ever could pack into a car and bring to a hotel room.
I've always been a little ahead of the curves on trends. I act on instincts and don't do good at going with what everyone else is doing now. I think my "Classes At The Farm" were part of me anticipating a trend. Lots of times I am too early and projects/books fail. If I have failure, I frequently give up and move on to my next great idea. The Class Thing though - here at the farm - I have continued it and this year we are in our 7th year. It still isn't hugely profitable or successful but it fits in with what I enjoy and love - color, creativity, wonderful women who enjoy making and using their hands and stretching their minds. (Seriously, I'm sorry to be so long winded - must be why I never caught on with the 140 character Twitter world).
Now the competition for students is huge! When I started, there was no VKLive, no Interweave Camp, no Squam Retreat. There was however Meg's Knitting Camp - the grandmother of all these knitting events. And places like Snow Farm, Penland School, Fletcher Farm School. How do students pick which retreat to attend? How do they find me? How much $ and time do students have. I guess if you are reading this, you have found me.
All of this to say, I've extended the Early Bird Pricing on the "Getting Stitched on the Farm" 2016 classes until May 31st. So, if you are wanting to come, hop on over to my website. The first class July 16/17 - Color, Fabric Printing + Lampshade Painting only has 2 openings left. A little more space on the other two July 30/31 Color, Fabric Printing and Embroidery and September 24/25 Color, Knitting, Crochet + Embroidery. Learn more on my website here.
And if you can't swing 2 days, there are options for only taking the first Saturday segment of all the classes. Have a question, send it on - kristinnicholas AT gmail DOT com. Hope to see some of you on the farm.
Now that you have gotten to the end - here's a photo of Julia from her night at the Prom. Thank you Aunt Debbie for doing the hair and nails and borrowing of the scarf. She had a great time and danced all night!
Thank you Missy for the corsage of lilacs and lily of the valley. Thank you cousin Olivia for the hand-me-down dress. Thank you Mum for the shoes. Here she is with her Dad behind the sheep barns because he was still doing chores. It takes a village to send a kid to the prom. (I was working the Webs Tent Sale that day and only got home towards the end of the Aunt Debbie pampering day.)