For the past five years, Jenni Kayne, a designer and boutique owner, has been crafting with two close friends, Annie Campbell and Amy Blessing, in their homes in Los Angeles. But last winter, they decided to take their projects, along with their children, further north, to Kayne’s cozy retreat in Lake Tahoe.
Whether it was embellishing a Christmas tree or making a gift tag, no project was too big or too small for their adventure. “The point was to find interesting materials and do something creative with them,” says Kayne, who had her son, Tanner, 7, and her daughter, Ripley, 4, in tow.
Many women have long cherished the “girlfriend getaway,” but often underrated is the weekend escape in which mothers connect not only with one another but with their children too. It’s a way to break from the everyday without those “missing” feelings that inevitably surface when you’re apart from your kids. Toss crafting into the mix, and the weekend is especially ripe for relaxation and discovery.
For Kayne, Campbell, and Blessing, that weekend agenda has evolved as their lives have. Now that they’re mothers, the crafting has become pragmatic—assembly-line-style gifts for teachers and caregivers, for instance, and kid-friendly projects.
For this particular weekend, the women chose a theme around bringing the outdoors in. And so, much to the children’s delight, the weekend started with foraging the woods for supplies.
Blessing’s daughter, India, 4, and Ripley frolicked in the snow, while the grown-ups filled wagons with fallen branches and Tanner zealously scooped up pinecones. “We didn’t have to go far,” says Kayne. They gathered everything they needed in half an hour—while also enjoying the picnic Campbell (a caterer in Los Angeles) had set up for everyone.
Soon, the crafting began. The kids were put “in charge” of the cut-out-dough ornaments, as the mothers caught up on one another’s lives and tackled the wreaths, all while keeping a watchful eye on the children. “It’s meditative,” says Kayne. But what she and her friends love most about crafting is the work-in-progress aspect. “All you usually see is the finished result of people’s efforts, but to witness their approach is just as inspiring,” says Blessing, a design consultant.
There was plenty of time for breaks, especially when snacks (including peppermint bark and maple-caramel popcorn) beckoned. And once the crafting was done, the women hung the wreaths and wrapped gifts. The little ones were over the moon, decorating the tree with the ornaments they had made themselves.
“Deep down, we’re perfectionists,” says Kayne. “But with the kids around, you can’t help but soften up.” So, no, not all the patterns in the ornaments came out exactly right, and symmetry wasn’t a priority. But letting it all be was precisely what made the day so much fun—and the finished tree, so fitting for the occasion.
Kayne and her friends love the look of ticking—a striped pattern typically found on mattress covers. They scanned their favorite patterns, printed them out, and used the paper to wrap gifts. (If you like the designs here, download our ticking clip art.)
Cotton gima yarn (#A-174), in Sky, Red, and Gray Taupe, $10 an oz.; cork chenille yarn (#A-25 cotton), in Deep Red, $15.50 an oz.; and silk wrap-paper yarn (#N-94), in Gray/Pink, $10.50 an oz., habutextiles.com
Fragrant Fire Starters
To create the charming packages, use hemp twine to bundle small pine branches and cones with other items that dry well and smell great (such as dried orange slices, sage, lavender, and eucalyptus). Then slip it all into muslin gift bags with playful handmade tags that say “Burn me” or “Light my fire.”
Muslin bags, 5" by 8", $12.50 for 25, celestialgifts.comGet the Manzanita Wreath How-To