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Crafters are social creatures, and nowhere was this more evident than at the MDK Knitting Getaway. From across the country or down the road, for their first time or for the (almost) third year in a row, we gathered at St. Andrews Sewanee. During the rest of the year, the campus on top of the Cumberland Plateau in central Tennessee serves as a boarding and day school. But in June it transforms into Shakerag Workshops under the direction of Claire Reishman

Claire is a horse riding, poem reading dynamo. Although I only saw her ride a bike during my time with her, she did point out her two horses in the pasture as we drove by on a tour. That’s another thing about Claire, you can’t help but be captivated by her wealth of knowledge and colorful stories. She assembles a capable staff, who make sure the weekend and the following week-long sessions proceed smoothly. 

Between taking off time to write my book and the pandemic, it was just over two years since I last taught an in-person class. The past year really made clear how much I missed in person interactions, whether it was striking up a conversation while waiting in line for the delicious meals cooked by Chef Caroline or admiring what someone was wearing. And there were many gorgeous handmade items on display, both knit and sewn. There are few things I enjoy more than seeing one of my patterns transformed by the maker’s own creativity! 

Everyone was primed to learn and ready to enjoy the time we shared. While there weren’t enough sewing machines for each person to have their own, this was taken in completely stride. People were more than willing to share both machines and knowledge, helping to trouble shoot issues like replacing a bobbin. There was even a cadre of hand stitchers, taking slow fashion to its next logical place. Along with the simple shirt class, I also taught a shorter patch pocket class, because who I ask, doesn’t need more pockets?  

Our last evening together was topped off with a fashion show and I was absolutely thrilled when a group went up on stage wearing shirts they had made in class. I felt like a proud parent, standing up in my seat and taking photos. Thank you to Ann and Kay for creating the Knitting Getaway and to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. 

About The Author

Sonya Philip is an artist, designer, teacher, and the author of The Act of Sewing. She has made it her mission to convince people to make their own clothes, by teaching classes and selling patterns. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found knitting another shawl or cardigan. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family and their scruffy terrier duo, Willie and Hazel.


  • Wow! What fun. Maybe I can talk my best friend in doing this with me.

  • Love the photos as fashion show! Is that Shirt No.1 that many are wearing? Off to buy the pattern.

    • It’s the top from Sonya’s new book, The Act of Sewing. Very similar to Shirt No. 1 but not quite the same.

  • And do I see an Alabama Chanin influence in some of the skirts?

  • Thank you Sonya for coming to teach and providing your calm approach to sewing. We loved having you at Shakerag.

  • Sonya, your pocket class was a joy, as was your pleasure at seeing how others used your patterns. Thank you!

  • Sonya, your book inspired me to trade in my raggedy machine for one that actually sews well! So far I’ve done 2 tops and a pair of pants. Next up shorts, and a skirt! That book is awesome, thank you so much!

  • I’m so glad you gave a shout out to handsewers. I gave away my machine years ago in favor of my own sewing by hand. When I wear something I made from my own design by hand, there’s an ownership you can’t get any other way.

    No criticism of machine sewing divas. It’s just no fun to this maker!

  • I love love love this!

    • Me too, me too!

  • I like clothes that are well-made and we’ll-finished. The people I know who make clothes wear what they make, else would they make them?
    There are so many great hobbies in the world.

  • Hand Stitchers- I’m not the only one!

  • great photos, looks like so much fun!

  • I would love to take a class with you! Maybe on one of my visits to family in SF….
    I have made two pairs of pants in linen from your new book and have a third pair in a cotton linen blend on the machine. I took an idea i saw on Instagram and added patch pockets on the side seam (4” on the front, 2” toward the back), perfect for a phone.

  • It was a magical time! Loved meeting you & tapping your knowledge & sharing a tip with you too!

  • I absolutely loved the pockets class! You reawakened my long dormant love of sewing and taught this old dog new tricks. Also thanks for the bundle of fabric you dropped on the swap table at the end. That black with the woven stripe is on its way to being a special top.

  • The class was so much fun! Let’s hear it for the hand stitching cadre!

  • If only Tennassee wasn`t so far from Sechelt. And if only I was allowed to cross a border. Some day!

  • wonderful post. thank you

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