Monday, February 23, 2009

Time Out for a Quilt Retreat

Friday morning my bags were packed and ready to be loaded into the trunk of the car for my long anticipated quilt retreat weekend!

The smallest bag held my clothing (smile) the rest held my 'necessities' Quilting isn't for light weights that's for sure!

We were able to check in at noon -- to a wonderfully beautiful fantastic retreat center owned by fellow longarm quilter Diane Anderson -- she's the Cabin Quilter and this is her Quilter's Cabin - and yes, it's in the woods (smile).

Our home away from home for the next 51 hours. I was joined by 11 lovely ladies and we had a blast! The sewing machines were quickly set up, the overnight bags tossed on the beds for later unpacking, the kitchen well stocked with our 'pot luck' meal arrangements and it was time to sew!

Everyone brought multiple projects to work on, some had quilts that had already been quilted and just needed the binding put on, some had applique projects, there were some projects started "from scratch" and finished at the retreat while there were many that were "projects started" and worked on during the retreat. With the fabulous design walls in our sewing area it was fun to watch the building of the blocks into quilt tops!

This is our second annual retreat and I decided we needed a block exchange. So everyone made 3.5 inch split rails and I gave a free demo/lesson in turning those into Cracker Box blocks using the Square in a Square technique. We signed the center and exchanged these mementos. I didn't work on putting mine together yet so I guess technically I need to add another number to my "Projects Started" accountability list on my side bar.

Here's the project that I decided to work on Friday afternoon. The large waterwheel blocks were already pieced prior to coming. I then pieced the small pinwheels and spent my day putting the top together.

Literally the entire day!! Here I am at 30 minutes past midnight with all the blocks and sashing sewn together. Whew!

I auditioned fabric for the borders and the gals liked this combo best. It's hard to see but there's a narrow black border first to help float the pinwheels, then a narrow green border, then a wider black border with multi-colored confetti triangles. I pieced these together to be able to add as one border instead of three -- and will be mitering them.

I had planned on doing this at the retreat so I could check off a "Project Started" and move it to "Quilts in Waiting" -- especially since this quilt needs to be finished before vending at the Dallas show...but decided to wait until I got home because I have a very large cutting station and I want to make sure I'm accurate in cutting the miters. So, day one, almost done but no cigar!

On Saturday I pulled out another PS (project started) and decided to work on my lone star, especially since one of the gals there had worked with QuiltSmart and knew the method of construction. Prior to retreat I only had three rows of the six done on this single panel. For some reason my brain wasn't wrapping around the method too easily, but thanks to the patience of my friend and a little swig of Pepsi I came back alive and finally "got it" (remember, I was quilting until well past midnight the night before!)

By the end of the day I'd completed 4 panels of the 8 needed for the star center. Did I mention this is a 58" star?

Decided to pull another almost all nighter - here's my friend Sara after she completed the borders on her quilt AT 2:30 AM Sunday morning! And yes, she's leaning up against the wall, but wouldn't you if you'd been on such a marathon!

For the record, she and I were up until 4:30 AM -- longer than a couple of other die-hard quilters who ONLY made it until 3:30 AM. We had fun talking about "how would you quilt this" on several projects -- my waterwheel included, it's great to get opinions and ideas from others. Not to mention the inspiration in seeing what others were working on and thinking "I'd like to do that sometime."

All too soon Sunday morning came (that's an understatement!!) The final day of retreat. So far I'd worked on two projects but none of them were complete (sigh) and I had a trunk load that I'd brought with me...

Since we had to check out at 3 PM I decided I needed an easy project for a little instant gratification. So I pulled out my kaleidoscope project. Below are the blocks that I came with.

I turned into a smokin' needle to try to make the remaining 13 blocks (they were pre-cut so that helped).

Let me add here that the fellowship and camaraderie was so wonderful. These ladies knew that "karen doesn't cook" so they had planned meals -- Lisa made a tasty chili/taco soup for Friday night, Lea Ann and the other Karen made crab cakes for lunch, Peggy brought chicken salad for lunch, Sara made a nice rice, asparagus and shrimp stir fry for Saturday night, and I don't know who made the breakfast casseroles (I managed to sleep through breakfast and just made oatmeal with fruit for myself). And those wonderful snacks!!

We had so much fun laughing and talking and watching each others parts and pieces come together into a quilt project. We helped each other with design ideas, block placement, border choices....just plain fun!

In keeping with that spirit of helpfulness, it's not too surprising that Peggy offered to help me on Sunday -- she volunteered to press my blocks as I continued sewing so I could actually MAKE 13 blocks that afternoon (remember, we had to take time out to eat a lot and time for our group photo).

One of the gals asked if this would technically make this a "two person quilt" if I ever entered it into a show (grin). I said "In my acceptance speech for this major quilting award I will declare 'I owe it all to my friends!'"

With Peggy's help in pressing, and the other gals cleaning up the kitchen (see, I'm really allergic to the kitchen and they all knew that), I was able to get all my blocks completed before our 3 PM departure!! Still no check marks off the PS category, but a whole lot closer!

All too soon we were loading our cars and giving hugs with the "see ya next year" parting words. We came from all around our Houston/Galveston area and even as far away as Fort Worth. Some of the ladies knew each other, some met for the first time this weekend and yes, we all can't wait until next year! I've already made the reservations! (I am tempted to keep my project boxes packed but perhaps I'll be able to work on a few between now and then!)

Truly I am blessed with such fabulous friends. We laughed together, helped each other, and I really wouldn't have wanted to miss out on the 'group therapy' -- even when it continued into the wee hours. The saying "I get by with a little help from my friends" rings loudly in my ear. I am soooo blessed.

This posting doesn't do justice to our weekend. The photos in webshots give more visual interpretation to our glorious weekend. Sara was surprised that I didn't stay up even later each evening to blog about our a way, it would have been much more of an interesting story, but I decided that it was better to just LIVE the story than try to RECORD the story. I hope you'll hop on over to my photos and see what everyone else was working on (much more interesting than my projects) and you'll get a better taste of our weekend. Plus you can take a tour of the interior of our retreat center. Top notch one hundred percent!

By the smiles on our faces late Sunday afternoon when this photo was taken, I think you'll agree we all had a wonderful time. Can't wait until next year!!

Retreat Center:


Zlaty said...

Looks like you had a lots of fun at the retreat!
Congratulations on piecing so many quilts! The cabin looks clean and good for a retreat.
Happy Sewing!

Susan said...

What fun! Ok, I'm jealous, there I said it. I don't have any quilting buddies here. I love the group picture. 100 years from now that photo will be priceless as well as all those quilts. Can't wait to see that Lone Star completed.

Zlaty said...

Karen, I have nominated you for an award. Please come over for details.

Improvedliving said...

The cabin looks clean and good for a retreat.

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