My Sweeties, I am off to a 4-day quilting retreat! We, meaning my quilting ladies and I, do this twice a year, Spring and Fall. It is held at a retreat center built especially for such gatherings, so everything we need is there. Which is good because it is not near any large town. For 4 days we will be pretty much alone with ourselves (and cell phones and lap tops, of course!), our sewing machines and all the fabric we can get our hands on. The center can house approximately 30 people but there are only 15 of us this time. Lots of room to spread out! That can become an issue for those who bring their entire sewing room. And you know who you are!
This group I belong to is the most amazing circle of women. I discovered the group about 3 years ago when looking for someplace to enjoy my love of sewing. After one day at my first retreat, I knew this was the place for me. Not only was everyone knowledgeable and skilled in so many areas but they were all the most extraordinary people. I was so struck by their kindness and willingness to share every bit of knowledge they had. During 4 days with 25 women I never heard any foul language, any unkind words or any gossip. At the time I thought this was impossible!
Quilting, I have come to realize, tends to bring out the best in people. It is often a shared activity, which helps foster the group as a whole. It certainly keeps one’s hands busy but conversation and sharing can continue while the fingers and needles fly.
To Gramps, quilting is a mystery. All he sees is women cutting fabric apart and then sewing it back together, only differently. Somehow it all looks great in the end but he is not sure how it all happens.
And the language is a bit confusing. There is the general term “quilting” which means working on any part of what will become a quilt someday. Then there is the specific term “quilting” which is the decorative stitching done to hold the front, back and inside of a quilt together. It is a special skill all its own and can take years to perfect. Quilting (stitching) can be done by hand or by machine – both ways can be magnificent, although machine quilting is definitely faster.
The art of quilting and this particular group of quilting friends has brought so much joy and love into my life. What a thrill to be surrounded by challenges, inspirations, new ideas, memories of the past and absolutely mind-boggling concepts while in the company of people who help you improve, cheer you on, give you pointers, share knowledge and respect your accomplishments. A pretty heady environment! Something like that can change a person – it sure has me!
I have grown so much and learned even more from associating with these dear quilting friends. Not only have my sewing skills improved but my love of color and textiles has expanded as has my knowledge of quilts and their history. I have certainly been encouraged to share all I have and include all lovers of fabric arts but have also been challenged to go beyond my skill and comfort levels. It seems to be the MOST perfect combination of comfort and challenge. That doesn’t come along very often, for sure!
So off I go to my quilting retreat, to come back better, improved, certainly different, well-fed, not necessarily rested but happy, productive and loved. Isn’t that the definition of a retreat?