The Joy Of Large And Small

Usually our Quilt Retreat in January is enjoyed by 30 or more women. But in this year of restrictions, we had only 11 ladies attending. Small number but with large enthusiasm.

We arrived at the Retreat Center to find the work tables arranged in such a way that we each had a very large U shaped area to sew in. What a joy this was going to be!!!. We could spread out all our “stuff” and not bump into each other, yet still be close enough to talk and share. The perfect large/small space!

And we could each have a bedroom to ourselves. Talk about living large! No worrying about disturbing others when you went to bed or got up, no needing to wear earplugs or fighting over the fan off/fan on issue.

We were not allowed to use the dining area, again due to COVID restrictions, so we ate at our work areas in small groups of 2-4. What great conversations we had – and laughter?!!

I think we learned more things about each other because we talked more in small groups, something we don’t always get a chance to do in the large group. It seemed like a much more intimate retreat this time. Quite a blessing actually.

The food is always large!!! There’s nothing small about it – ever! I can never say enough about retreat food – especially that I don’t have to prepare it or clean up after it! That’s one of the greatest joys of retreat, besides the sewing, of course.

Now let’s get down to the reason for the whole retreat – the sewing. It was strangely large. ….and small. Here, I’ll show you.

This beauty is definitely large and was made from a million small squares. Yes, a million, by actual count. (I don’t really know. I’m just guessing!) But don’t you love all the blues?

This one is also large. It is very traditional in color and style. I would say it is practically perfect.

Now this one is very small – 5″ square to be exact. It is one block of a Dear Jane quilt. Isn’t it adorable and very precise.

Here we have large again. This going to be a quilt for a fallen police officer in the State of Texas. Isn’t it magnificent?

More small blocks for the Dear Jane quilt. The entire quilt will be pink and red. I can’t wait to see the whole thing. It will be very large!!!

Do you love these small embroidered blocks? Threadwork on black is always so striking.

This beauty is only half it’s final size, which is gigantic! The fabrics are what make this so stunning. Imagine a row of fabric between each of these rows and on the outsides. Now can you see it’s true magnificence?

And then we have this adorable little table runner. By the last day it had orange prairie points around the outside. Could it be any cuter?

And this is the epitome of large and small. It is made from little baby clothes into a big girl’s quilt. It’s very colorful and tactile. That special granddaughter is going to love it.

What a grand time I had at my small retreat! I’m bursting with big memories, a full stomach, a peaceful mind, little sewing projects, an overflowing heart and no regrets.

A Quilting I Will Go

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?