Feeling Recharged

For six years now, I have traveled to Waite Park, MN in July to spend a few days with some of the best friends I have ever known; a group of women that felt like forever friends almost immediately after our first meeting. My Grubers Retreat is a non-negotiable event on the calendar. I’ve written about the joys of this retreat in the past; but really, words cannot explain what this week means to me and does for me emotionally. Group8                               L to R: Amanda, Rene, me, Mary, Michelle, Terri, Cindy, Shelly, Stephanie

Amanda produces like crazy every year–many things with her new fabric collection for Connecting Threads this year! She free-motion quilted like crazy, and she and I made micro quilts. Amanda2015CollageRene worked on a scrap vortex quilt most of the weekend. Her 51 Kisses quilt, made for her sister, Michelle, is fabulous. Go check out her MUCH better photos!Rene2015CollageI finished up my Rock Pools quilt top from a class I took in May (it’s Christmas fabric), and worked on my Quick Curve Ruler project from last year’s retreat! My micro quilt is at the bottom left:Doris2015CollageMary made us the adorable egg-cup pincushions (top right photo) with the smallest EPP hexies I’ve ever seen. She worked diligently on a Moda Bake Shop pattern most of the weekend. Mary2015CollageMichelle first joined us for retreat in 2011 (year two). She is Rene’s little sis, and at the time she was just a newbie to quilting. She has come a long way! The girl is obsessed with foundation paper-piecing (and the movie Pitch Perfect, which we watched as a group Saturday evening). The quilt on the top right is the beauty she made for Rene this year:Michelle2015CollageTerri is fun to watch work; she makes the most of her time at retreat. She goes back and forth between projects, starts new ones when inspired by something she sees (see the blocks at bottom right, inspired by one Michelle shared-in my collage above), her creativity is inspiring. She came prepared with her suitcase of fabric (LOVE IT!)… Also, she made us those beautiful Dresden coasters this year:Terri2015CollageCindy accomplished much more than I took photos of. I couldn’t resist snapping the pic of her with the matching Hello Kitty sewing machine! She made us all one-hour baskets with fussy cut license plate fabric–so fitting! A friend made the cute bag at the bottom for her, it’s just too adorable not to share:Cindy2015CollageShelly and I share a ride from Des Moines to Waite Park, about 5 hours in the car (each way). She’s afraid she talks my ear off, but I love the laughs, the sharing, the brainstorming…and she tells the BEST stories. She was working on some top-secret stuff, so not many pics of her work, but she was very productive! I’m still tickled pink that she made us those perpetual journal calendars in the pint box (it’s one of the first projects I ever added to Pinterest and I have YET to make one–don’t need to, now!):Shelly2015CollageStephanie sat next to me this year, I was amazed at how quickly she made the Mini Disco quilt in the Allison Glass fabrics (the back is just as beautiful, photo on bottom right). She worked on a Quick Curve Ruler project as well, a current QAL on the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog.Stephanie2015CollageEach year we make (or “outsource”) happies for each other. Seriously, it’s better than Christmas:Happies4I gave the Cotton & Steel charm packs and scissors key fobs this year, Anna Maria Dresden coaster from Terri, Perpetual Journal Calendar & flashlight from Shelly, Egg Cup pincushion from Mary, Work in Progress bag and pattern, and mini-charms from Amanda, fabric tray and chocolate from Michelle, Her OWN honey and “Sew Sisters” bag from Stephanie (and fresh Michigan blueberries!), License plate basket from Cindy, and Mug and mini-charms from Rene.

Every year I come home feeling recharged and inspired–Love my Grubers gals!

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An Iowa Quilt

When we saw the Sum of Many Parts exhibit last January, we also saw the Iowa Sesquicentennial Quilt on display at the State Historical Society. I don’t believe I’d ever seen it before. The log cabin border is stunning, and the quilting is great:

ISQuiltFullIowa became a state in 1846, the Sesquicentennial (150 years) was celebrated in 1996. Each of the 99 counties submitted a block in the shape and scale of their county. Some are embroidered, some appliqued, some just drawn or inked on:

ISQuiltDetail1Polk County is where Des Moines is located (orange block with star on it) and we have a beautiful state capitol building which is in the center of the block. Madison County is famous for its covered bridges

ISQuiltDetail2The one with the John Deere logo is where I grew up, Black Hawk County, home of John Deere Tractor Works and the University of Northern Iowa and named for Sauk war chief Black Hawk.

ISQuiltDetail3This little quilted heart on the Iowa County block is very small, but it really stands out. The hand embroidered sites in the Keokuk County block impressed me as well:

ISQuiltDetail4The background quilting is full a different motifs, corn stalks, stars, banners, eagles, wild roses (our state flower), a goldfinch (the state bird)…

ISQuiltDetail6

ISQuiltDetail7I was glad we got to see this, I’m not sure if it is on a semi-permanent display or not. But we both enjoyed looking it over for little details and surprises.

Happy Birthday to my big brother, Steve, today!

Doris

 

Wrapped in Love (Part II)

When one goes through difficult and dark times, you find out who your friends really are. I’ve been reminded in countless ways that I am greatly blessed and surrounded by caring, loving friends.

My Des Moines MQG friends started making a quilt for Frank as soon as he was diagnosed. In addition, they dropped off a gift card for me each week to use at a healthy grocery store/restaurant near the hospital. When he passed away two weeks later, they decided to finish the quilt anyway, and give it to me. I finally attended a meeting again a few months later, when they presented it to me:photoFrank played the banjo, guitar, and mandolin and was as interested in music as I am fabric. He knew very little about quilts when we started dating, and I remember us visiting a small neighboring town, and they happened to have a mini quilt show on display in the Public Library. He asked a lot of questions, about what makes a quilt a quilt, the layers, the process, block names. He even read some of my quilting books over the years, learned to identify certain traditional blocks (so he could impress my friends by knowing the lingo), and enjoyed visiting quilt shops with me just to see “how one differed from the next”. The fact that this quilt combines his hobby and my hobby–he would have been over the moon for it!

QuiltFull

Twelve different members contributed banjo and guitar blocks on light backgrounds, one member pieced the blocks together, another member pieced the back (using some musical quotes and sheet music fabric:

QuiltBack

QuiltBackLabelthen they passed it along to another member who quilted it (using echoing lines to give it the feel of the music reverberating). There is a label on the back with all of their names.

I love the details in some of these instruments:BanjoCollage1The inside of that red banjo (above) says “hope” the brown and blue banjo (top right) says “pure grace” on the bridge (at the bottom of the strings). The guitar below has tiny musical notes inside the sound hole:GuitarBanjoCollage3

GuitarCollage1It’s a shame he never got to see this quilt, he would have been so impressed and so touched. I am. It reminds me of him, and as I said, the fact that it combines our favorite hobbies makes it all the more special.   QuiltFrontBottomCenterThank you, again, for everything.