Yes, there is one, it was yesterday… and it’s no joke. Quilting isn’t just your grandma’s past-time anymore… Today, quilting is a $3.58 billion industry in the United States with 21.3 million quilters, nationwide. 14% of U.S. households are home to at least one active quilter.
The internet has contributed to the explosion of this industry, through on-line shopping, but also by connecting quilters from all areas of the globe. I have quilting friends in India, the U.K., Australia, mainland Europe & Asia. I’ve met some in person, many I’ve gotten to know through my blog (as well as their’s) and through email and social media. I know my family, friends and co-workers think I’m nuts when I get excited for a weekend that I plan to spend quilting. They just. don’t. get. it. But these quilt retreat weekends have been some of the best weekends of my life.
In the summer of 2010, I took a giant leap of faith (for an introverted homebody like myself, anyway) and met up with a dozen quilt bloggers from all over the United States, at Grubers Retreat Center in St. Cloud, MN. We hit it off, and had so much fun, we made the weekend an annual event! Every July, we trek to Minnesota from Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Florida and California for a weekend with fellow quilters that became instant friends five years ago. It’s a shame we don’t all live in the same neighborhood.
This is the group that gave me this quilt last year at our retreat. We keep extending a little more time to the weekend each year, because three days together is just not enough. In July 2014, we were missing Shelly from Missouri and Michelle from Georgia. However, Michelle paid us a visit via FaceTime and her sister’s iPad:
We have a lot of fun chatting, laughing, eating good food, drinking (occasionally), sharing, learning from one another… it’s sort of like a slumber party for grown-ups. We even manage to get some sewing done:
Cindy worked with these gorgeous shot cottons and she made a Sew Together Bag along with Stephanie and Terri.
Terri sewed with beautiful Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent fabrics all weekend–stunning! She also brought me a box of Sandi Henderson fabrics that I need to get around to playing with one of these days!
Stephanie was working on a Tula Pink quilt kit that turned out wonderfully. She also brought her quilt from last year back for show-n-tell (bottom right pic). These are the Sew Together Bags that Cindy, Terri and Stephanie completed over the weekend:
Amanda was playing with a new fabric line (which I cannot recall the name of!) and of course, her giant scrap basket she brings along each year!
I worked a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new book, and I have to admit it hasn’t made much progress since that July weekend. The fabric collection is Vintage Summer for Blend Fabrics (something I saw at Quilt Market in KC and could not pass up!!!)Toni (who never really took to blogging) finished up a top she had worked on the year before, such bright and cheerful colors!
Rene worked on piecing her Quilting Bee blocks together–a fabulous quilt! (I love the contradiction of technology at Rene’s workstation!) ;-)Mary always produces like crazy at these retreats–she finished the Plus quilt top, and made a pretty good dent in the Heather Ross apple core quilt. (it’s the backdrop in our group photo above). The beautiful Marcelle Medallion (top left) is what she brought for show-n-tell.
We also have a tradition of exchanging “happies” at these retreats, just a little something for no reason but to make someone happy.
Terri gave us each notecards with her own graphic design on them, Cindy made us giant pincushions with storage pockets, Mary made us patchwork bags and homemade caramels (yum!), Toni and I gave everyone a matching towel/potholder set, Rene made us journals and we all got a flamingo FQ from her, Amanda’s happy included a spool of Aurifil and the adorable little “happy” flags, and Stephanie gave us each a mini duffle–adorable.
Each year we talk about how a long weekend isn’t long enough, and we need to have a winter retreat, too. Maybe one year we will get that organized… but this year, three of us had a mini-retreat, meeting in Brunswick, MO (home of the giant Pecan) in early December:
This was the weekend I finished piecing the quilt tops I started in October. We sewed and stayed in the Sew Sweet Quit Shop Retreat Center (which I HIGHLY recommend). Stephanie and I also had the pleasure of attending the Pecan Valley Quilt Guild holiday party with Shelly–they are such a fun group, we had a great time. I very much enjoyed getting to see some of these friends in between July retreats! There is always the possibility of a winter retreat in California or Florida, too. ;-)
Keeping my fingers crossed that this July all TEN of us will be able to be together again! Counting down the days…