Retreat Revisited

Ah quilt retreat! There is nothing like it. Four days of sewing, chatting, sharing, laughing, eating and maybe some sleeping. There is lots of humming of machines, questions like “Does this border go with this fabric?”, answers of “I prefer the blue!”, whirring of rotary cutters and even some quiet times of hand sewing. One person can be absorbed in reading directions, two people can be sharing a new technique, three people can be giving an opinion on placement of blocks for a quilt and any number of people an be taking a class on a brilliant idea or some new sewing notion.

A retreat is many things and can be anything to one person. Maybe it’s a chance to finish that project . . . . finally. Maybe it’s a chance to start a new project . . . . finally. And maybe it’s just time, time to sew and sew and sew on anything and everything you have. It’s the freedom to do whatever you want.

Ah quilt retreat! Looking forward to it is a joy. Experiencing it is true heaven. Even the memories of it are a blessing. Here are a few of mine.

This is just one block for a quilt done in appliqué. Can you imagine how spectacular that quilt will be?

This quilt looks like it was woven. And it is made out of flannel. What a coy hug it will give on cold nights.

A beautiful Christmas tree already for the holiday.

A beautiful quilt done in squares. Very modern looking.

Is this too cute? I love the baby penguin!

A wonderful red, white and blue star quilt. Love those stars!

This quilt is big, beautiful and not even done yet. There will be more poinsettias when completed. How perfect will that be?

A quilt of foxes is being worked on here. How adorable!

A little Christmas village just got finished here in this cute quilt.

Several of us took lessons on making stars the Inklingo way. Here are our results.

This spectacular one is made from a zillion little pieces of fabric applied to the background. Isn’t it wonderful?

 

I love the brightness of this quilt. Must be all those primary colors.

This is going to be a great quilt when it is done. Don’t you agree?

Another very interesting quilt. The blocks are going in all directions. Love the clocks!

This quilt is very soft looking. I bet it is very comforting too.

Here is a special quilt of several blocks of the Lady of Guadalupe. It was made for a special friend. Lucky lady!

This is not exactly a quilt but still a real cutie. It is a wool mat for a platter. It is all done by hand with much embellishment.

A complicated quilt that is very lovely to behold. Can’t wait till this one is done.

This one looks very hard but actually it is the fabric that is printed to look like 36 square blocks. Interesting, right?

This is all I can show you of the marvelous retreat I went to. The best parts are the  intangibles. They are the relationships we all have and the history of many retreats and gatherings over the years. They are the hours spent in each others’ company through good times and bad. They are the words spoken between us over coffee, tea and wine, sharing meals, ideas and feelings.

All these things we carry in our hearts until the next time we meet. Be it tomorrow or next year. Nothing is lost or forgotten. Retreat is forever!

 

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A Quilt Show – Behind The Scenes

Many of us have been to a quilt show. And many of us have seen the quilts all nicely hung and organized in place. We have marveled at the beauty of the show, shopped at all the vendors and learned much at the demonstrations.

But how does all this quilt show thing happen? Do elves come in the night and perform magic? Does a wizard open a trunk and a quilt show pops out? Do we order one from Amazon and two days later it shows up neatly wrapped in a box? Not exactly.

First of all it takes at least a year of planning – sometimes more. That means monthly (or more often) meetings of a committee. Lots of emailing back and forth. Phone calls, messages, printouts, samples, first, second and final drafts, votes, opinions, disagreements and agreements – all go into making a quilt show.

Finally the week of the show comes and all involved are ready and on alert. Three days before the show even starts, all the quilts that are going to be in the show are delivered to the site. In four hours, as many as 350 or more quilts can be accepted, inspected, labeled and processed. All this is done alphabetically at check-in stations.

Two days before the quilt show the poles and drapes are up in place and the hanging of the quilts begins. The quilts are hung by sleeves on the back of each quilt over a rod. Each is numbered and labeled according to the category which it qualifies. All 350 or more quilts are hung and made to look as beautiful as possible in one day.

The next day begins the judging. Three different judges with their assigned scribes spend the entire day inspecting, analyzing and recording their assessment of each quilt.The written critique is returned with the quilt  to the owner at the end of the show.

Then the winning ribbons are hung on the most outstanding quilts, honoring the makers. The most wonderful of all, the “Best of Show” is moved to a special place of honor.

During all this time, tables have been set up, signs have been placed, registration packets have been stuffed, vendors have set up their booths, banners have been hung, PA systems tested, concession stands filled, floors laid, lights hung, tickets counted and people have scurried from one job to another. All is now ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow the quilt show opens. The doors will be unlocked. Quilt lovers and makers will stream in. There is nothing more to be done.

Nothing more but keep the show running smoothly!

 

What I Learned While Getting Sick. . . . And Sicker

Have you missed me, my Sweeties? I certainly have missed you the last two months!

Nine weeks ago, I went into the hospital for a simple surgery to cure a diagnosis of early colon cancer. It was supposed to be a quick, laparoscopic, no-frills surgery.

The surgery went fine, except I developed a blockage afterwards and required a second surgery four days later.

That would have been fine too, but some intestinal contents leaked out and I became septic. Now sepsis is a big deal and a very serious condition.

I know because it affected my heart rate, which went to 220 bpm. All this required conversion with medications and a move to Coronary ICU.

In the meantime, I also developed an abscess in my abdomen, necessitating the placement of a drain for about two weeks.

The two antibiotics I was receiving IV required the placement of a PICC line in my right arm.  I was a mess!!!

By this time, I had been in the hospital for almost a month. I then was sent to Rehab for three weeks of IV antibiotics and Physical Therapy.

So what can be learned from an experience such as this? Many things, I realized. Some at the time. Some much later.

Fighting the inevitable is non-productive and exhausting. Sometimes you just have to face the issue and go with it.

Never discount the power of prayer. Allow others to pray for you and those caring for you.

Strength comes from simply surviving.

Maintaining a sense of gratitude helps. Saying “thank you” to everyone who does you a kindness keeps you in the right attitude.

Allow others to give. It is a blessing to receive from others and this is the time to let them do it.

True friends and family will step up to the challenge. I was never alone and never had to face any of my problems by myself. What a gift!!

There is always a silver lining. I had to look long and hard for this one – but I lost 20 pounds! Now that’s good news!

Perseverance pays off.  Keeping a positive attitude helped me believe that everything would turn out alright.

Things temporarily lost are twice as enjoyable when regained. Every yard more I can walk and every bit more sewing I can do is a joy to me and is worth every ounce of effort.

Don’t mourn what is lost. Praise what is gained. I am cancer free! I am alive! I will be healthy again! I can ask for nothing more!!!!!!!

What You Can Do With A Bag Of Fabric

So a group of say about 28 women get together for four days. They each have a bag or two or three of fabric. What do you think can happen with that fabric in four days of sewing? Well it was pure magic, my Sweeties! Pure magic!

Look and see what the results are. And feel free to drool!

Is this cutest guy you ever saw? And all made out of little pieces of fabric. Can you see the squirrel and the rabbits?

This is his not so little playmate. Isn’t she a beauty? Again, all done with little bits of fabric that were fussy cut.

This one was put together, cut apart and put back together. Now how clever is that? Spectacular!

This medieval looking gem has wonderful thread work in every block. It is too beautiful for words! When it is finally all together, it will be a stunner!

Here is a really lovely Quilt of Valor. It is meant for a specific veteran and is truly personal. A lot of love is going into this quilt.

These two lovelies are coasters and couldn’t be nicer.

These pieced butterflies are going to be wonderful in the final quilt, whatever it is. Of course, I especially love the the blue one!

Here is some hand embroidery beyond compare! Just sit and enjoy!

More embroidery. Drool if you must!

Love the colors in this beauty!

How nice is this? Won’t it be great in a camper or a lodge?

Now this is a fantastic quandary. Not sure what it will be, but it is divine.

What a cutie patootie is this! I want one!

There is nothing like a good old fashioned bowtie quilt. Brings back memories, doesn’t it?

What a sight! Can you believe this? The work and the precision!

Another version of a bowtie quilt. X’s and O’s.

Doesn’t everyone want one of these? I sure do!

Oh my goodness! A baby quilt that practically brings tears to your eyes.

How lovely is this? Love the scrappy border!

More butterflies! But this time in the border. How unusual!

Oh how I love a blue and white quilt! And those fabrics, yum!

One version of a good old Log Cabin. Wonderful!

And so ended our four day quilt retreat. The quilts are the only part I can show you. I can’t show you how much we laughed or how much we talked or how much we cared about each other. I can’t show you the hugging, the touching, the sharing that went on.

The fabric is what draws us together, but the fellowship is what keeps us together. Quilting is the purpose but caring is the glue. A bag of fabric may be the reason we gather but true love is why we stay.

A Homemade Holiday

Think it’s not worth the trouble? Making things for the holidays or anytime, for that matter? Think no one will really appreciate your effort? Think it is all a waste? Think again, my Sweetie!

I believe the biggest and best gift you can give anyone is your time. It is precious, unique and will never come again. Any time you are thinking about someone, doing for someone or sharing with someone, it is a gift to be treasured and held in the highest regard.

So spending the time making a gift or fashioning a decoration or baking food or brightening up the yard is a gift of your time and thought. Do I believe you should do EVERYTHING – NO!!!!  That’s a killer and a misuse of your time. But adding your personal touch to each day and especially each holiday is very doable.

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And the memories it makes! Oh Boy! I have the best memories of my mother baking for every occasion. Pies! Cookies! Candy! Cakes! Everyone enjoyed her handiwork. Everyone was blessed by her efforts. And she loved doing it.

That’s the double blessing of homemade. The maker is as happy making the gift as the receiver is getting the gift.

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I love spending time on a project for one person. The whole while I’m thinking about them. How they will look when I give them the gift. How they will enjoy it. How it will benefit our relationship. On and on I think, until the project is done.

Then I get to really see their face when I give it to them and watch them enjoy it and feel our relationship deepen. What could be better than that?

I remember when we had young children, we decided to each have small blank books one Christmas. In each person’s book we would write down the gifts of our time we were giving that person. I had things like: “I  will make your bed” from my daughter, I will give you a back rub” from my son and “I will bring you breakfast in bed” from my husband.

There were many others that year and  in the years to follow. How fun it was to cash in the certificates during the year. Those gifts were extra special in so many ways.

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Putting forth effort for those you love is never a waste. It is love in the purest sense, it is a teaching moment and a good example for all those watching you. It couldn’t be more important.

So put your personal touch on every holiday. Whatever that means – making presents, making decorations, fashioning yard art, baking, cooking. It could be as simple as wrapping a gift or tying a bow or as interesting as smocking a Christmas dress. Whatever shows your talent and care.

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Show your love. Give of your time. Make you holiday homemade.