2019 Movement and Shoemaking Workshop with Katy Bowman

2019 Movement and Shoemaking Workshop with Katy Bowman

We just hosted our second workshop with biomechanist and author Katy Bowman, and Katy as usual brought the sunny weather!

When Katy approached us last year about collaborating on a weekend of shoemaking and movement education, we couldn't have been more thrilled. It was the first time we held an event like this at our new shop location and we learned how much we enjoy interacting with a class that is enthusiastic about healthy living and slow fashion. When Katy asked us if we wanted to do it again, we didn't even have to think about it!

Last weekend, we welcomed dozens of participants to our shoemaking home. The class consisted of all ages and all walks of life, some from our own Oregon community and some from as far away as Boston, Massachusetts... including one happy therapy dog.

On Day 1 of the workshop, the group met bright and early to dive into their first movement class taught by Katy herself. The theme: Feet, Knees and Hips (Oh My!). After everyone was all loosey-goosey from the healthful stretching and alignment work, we gave the group a tour of the Softstar shop and started them on their own shoemaking tutorial. In this first phase, the participants were shown how to cut out all the leather, sheepskin and elastic pieces they needed for their own pair of handcrafted moccasins.

Katy working on her own pair of moccasins.

As our elves know well, shoemaking works up an appetite. For lunch, the whole group walked a sunny 1.6 miles to neighboring Gathering Together Farm, where we enjoyed a delicious and organic farm-to-table feast. It doesn't get any fresher than pulling veggies from the field to toss in your frying pan!

Lunch at Gathering Together Farm
The parking area outside Gathering Together Farm featured a small hill, so what better opportunity to practice walking downhill without straining knees?

For the afternoon session, the classmates were shown how to finish their moccasins (with our experienced elves handling the trickier sewing processes), and were also given free time to explore educational and artistic stations set up around our shop. Elf Hava gave talks about our materials and answered questions about our shoemaking process. A table was set up for participants to help make cat toys out of our leather scraps, which we then sell and donate 100% of proceeds to Kids for Kids—a charity that provides aid for families in Darfur, Sudan. In another corner of the shop, some of our favorite videos played on a screen. The most popular station of all, however, was Elf Molly's art center. Possibly the most creative elf in the house, Molly prepared an art project to create a series of mosaic tiles out of leather scraps that, when finished, will be assembled into a larger mural for our storefront windows.

Softstar Elves guiding participants through the moccasin sewing process.
Molly and the Softstar Elves

The last session of the day was an afternoon movement class focusing on spine, pelvis and shoulders. Katy took the floor again to demonstrate how much of a difference healthy movement and alignment of these areas can affect your whole body and the overall quality of life. Participants were able to ask questions specific to their needs.

Katy Bowman demonstrates healthy alignment techniques.

The first day ended with a book signing and tapas in our public showroom (food once again contributed by Gathering Together Farm), but the workshop itself was far from over.

Day 2 gave the class an opportunity to put their newfound movement knowledge into action. At the crack of dawn, we all met at a trailhead leading into the beautiful 11,000-acre MacDonald Forest. After a quick orientation and rundown on movement practices to keep in mind during the hike, we set off on a 16-mile loop!

Hiking Through MacDonald Forest

For some of our participants, this was further than they had ever hiked in one day. Everyone moved at their own pace and ample breaks were provided. Katy was on hand to evaluate the participants' walking form and to give pointers to alleviate any painful areas.

Encouraging movement in the form of tree climbing.

The climax of the hike arrived at Dimple Hill, the peak of our trail at 1495' elevation. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful for our mountaintop lunch (provided by the Dizzy Hen—another local farm-to-table restaurant) and the sky was so clear we could see hundreds of miles down the coastal range mountains of the Willamette Valley.

Lunch at Dimple Hill. What a view!

Suffice it to say, we were all exhausted after returning to the trailhead in the afternoon, but also full of a satisfying accomplishment. Katy led one last Q&A to address movement concerns that came up during the hike before everyone shared their heartfelt thanks and bittersweet goodbyes.

Katy Bowman's Class of '19

A weekend with Katy Bowman is always a weekend to remember, and we're grateful for the second opportunity to co-host this workshop with her. We're also looking forward to doing it again in the future!

If you'd like to know more about Katy's work then I encourage you to check out her Nutritious Movement website, as well as her free podcast, Move Your DNA. Remember to check her events calendar to see if a workshop is coming near you!

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