“A party?” – our youngest member, (only twelve, on the big day!), was clearly very enthusiastic! Her enthusiasm didn’t wane, when we explained that we meant “next year” – privately thinking it still meant barely a year to prepare!
First planning meetings: Theme? All day, or just the afternoon? Party “games” or entertainment? Did we still want our annual “Skill Share”, as well? Buffet, “Jacob’s Join” or set meal? Decisions, decisions!
We settled on a 1950s “Village fair” theme for the afternoon – Tombola, “Guess the weight of the Cake”, a raffled hamper (eventually two hampers), a coconut shy, quoits, a treasure hunt (which became a quiz – thanks to our British weather!), and a commemorative cake to accompany the afternoon cuppa. The morning, it was decided, should be similar to our usual, August “Skill Share”: informal workshops, each with a spinning/weaving/dyeing theme. In addition, these workshops should (mostly) be centred on a “party bag” – a calico shopping bag, to be decorated by attending any (or all) of those workshops.
Later, we added “Rainbow” to the theme, when we set up a “Bunting Competition”: For the final meeting before the party, members were invited to submit 2 metres of bunting, suspending 10 “items” (triangles, squares, circles, whatever they liked), the judging done by all members present on the day. We all agreed that the sheer inventiveness, skill and quality of those entries was simply awe-inspiring!
As the year counted down, preparations and deadlines were steadily ticked off: the invitations were designed and printed, then hand-delivered; a “cake” of ruby/chocolate Merino tops, with a Cashmere batt as the “cream” and “frosting” (red silk fibre formed a cherry fruit filling, plus some “cherries” on top!). The fibre used was weighted beforehand, and the best weight guess won the cake!
Rainbow punis made for a Rainbow Spin-In; 60 Calico “party” bags made, 25 bean bags sewn for the coconut-shy, coconut-shy stand built, willow-wand quoits plus the pegs manufactured. Then printing the instructions and sign-up sheet for an “Afternoon Tea” (bite-size) Jacob’s Join lunch, requests for Tombola prizes and items to include in the Craft Hamper(s). Very early on, we decided that the afternoon “Village Fair” would be cash-free; however, to stay “in character”, Bank-of-Lancs-&-Lakes cash would be used: two facsimile 1959 10-shilling notes, plus 10 (cardboard) 1959 shillings, per member, issued as each person arrived! Every “go” or entry would “cost” one shilling!
The day dawned… with the worst possible weather we could have imagined! We had already planned for three possible scenarios, so just leapt into action for Plan C: everything indoors! Bunting around the ceiling, skill-share tables set up, quick-change for the afternoon of fun, following our “Afternoon Tea” lunch.
And what fun we had! Watching the morning activities, one couldn’t imagine a pre-school playgroup having a better time! The Rainbow Punis were glorious, each just begging to be touched, stroked and cuddled, before being spun into a unique art-yarn. There was stencil-dyeing and shadow dyeing of the calico bags; there were fabric crayons for the artistic, and needle-felting for the adventurous (plus needle-felting the art-yarn to the bag, if so inclined). And in the kitchen: Indigo and Oak-bark dyeing. And if “none of the above” appealed, there was a Brinkley Loom, ready and waiting!
Lunchtime arrived way too soon, and the dyes, crayons, fibre, water, buckets (and bags), etc. were quickly cleaned, packed and cleared away. As always, the Jacob’s Join did not disappoint: there was plenty for every taste and need.
The “1950s Village Fair” was simply the icing on the cake: shrieks of laughter, as the coconut-shy persisted in falling over (minor design fault!); the willow quoits worked brilliantly; the Tombola was, by the start of the afternoon, inundated with yet more donated prizes. The two raffle hampers – a Yarn-Lovers Hamper and a Fibre-Lovers Hamper – were full to overflowing with wonderful goodies, and the (Guess the Weight of the) “cake” looked good enough to eat! “Cash” was being spent with delighted grins: every Raffle ticket, guess as to the weight of the cake and every Tombola ticket “one shilling”. The quoits and the coconut-shy: a “shilling a try”!
The afternoon was rounded off with a guild-inspired quiz – questions on Lancs & Lakes history, plus spinning, weaving and dyeing history / general knowledge – with a well-earned cuppa and a piece of celebration cake.
One more item for the day – our Chair’s Challenge 2019/20: a present of 100g of glorious yarn or fibre – with instructions to make a “something”, however we pleased! Now that’s what I call a “Party Bag”!