Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quilt Retreat! (part one)

Every year at this time my quilt group goes on retreat for an extended weekend. We go to Massanetta Springs, which is a church camp/conference center about two hours' drive from here, in beautiful country between the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. (The drive usually takes considerably longer, because part of the charm of going on retreat is stopping at quilt shops on the way to go shopping!)
This year was our 11th retreat! In early years, activities were planned for Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. More and more, each of us brings our own UFOs (unfinished objects) or WIPs (works in process) to work on, but the committee that plans the retreat usually comes up with projects related to the retreat's theme, which they announce several months in advance. (Also, most of us now elect to arrive on more day of quilting!)

The theme this year was "A New Box of Crayons." Each of us was provided with a colorful folder listing all the things that we would need to bring, meal schedules, maps to nearby quilt shops, etc., plus directions on how to make the exchange block. Each person who wanted to made one (or more) of the exchange blocks, and then one lucky person's name was drawn on Sunday and she won them all! The exchange blocks this year were "chubby crayons"--the committee provided a paper foundation, a small amount of white fabric for the background, and two strips of black fabric for the stripes on the crayon wrapper. We provided the fabric for the "crayon" and the "wrapper." I made two (doubled my chances of winning!) but sadly didn't win them. (Of course you can't tell that i love cats and that purple is one of my favorite colors....) Here's a little quilt the committee made to show how a few crayon blocks could be set together very nicely into a quilt. And here are all of the wonderful colorful blocks that everyone made, laid out to be admired and signed with a Pigma pen, so that the winner will be able to remember in future years which of her friends made which blocks.

The committee also provided a crayon-shaped blank that we were supposed to use to make a name tag, giving ourselves a color name that in some way went with our real name (like Lime Green Lynn or Amethyst April, for example). Here's mine:

One of the things that sets our retreats apart is an innovation introduced by the organizer of our first retreat..."meal treats." At each meal, a different team provides special handmade treats at each person's place in the communal dining room. And individuals have been known to put a treat on each person's sewing machine in the wee hours of the night or morning. The committee also provides each person with goodies donated by merchants and every half hour throughout retreat there's a drawing for door prizes, with each person eventually winning something, usually a bag full of donated goodies such as beautiful pieces of fabric, patterns, threads, rulers, and if you're really really lucky, a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

The purple bag in the background holds the goodies from the committee. The meal treats included (left to right, back to front) a mug with an "apron" on it to hold sewing tools (and it came with wrapped mints inside); a fabric basket containing a box of crayons; a Stampin' Up! bag containing a stamped piece of fabric to use as a quilt label; a Stampin' Up! box containing three pieces of Ghiradelli chocolate (this was the treat my friends April, Jen, and i made...instead of wrapping the boxes with a strip of designer paper, we wrapped them with a strip of quilting fabric. We made 30 boxes and no two were alike!); a fabric-wrapped medicine bottle to use for holding broken needles and pins; a fabric rose; a box of crayons with tightly rolled pieces of fabric instead of crayons; and a pretty little mirror with a lovely sentiment.
And a cute scissors-holder to wear around the neck...the team who made these carefully made two with cats with me in mind; both got snaffled up before i got to the table but my sweet friend Gail had one of the kitties and offered to trade with me.


  1. That sounds like so much fun. I have never been on a retreat ! your group goes all out!

  2. What a wonderful and thoughtful group to be with on a quilting retreat! Sounds delightful and the kitties seem to have done well!

  3. Your description of your retreat made me feel a bit envious! What a great experience and opportunity to share with other quilters! Love all the little treats, the crayon blocks -the whole thing! Thanks for sharing about it!

  4. Retreats are so much fun for everyone...we get out of our everyday ruts and routines, and have fun being creative together.