I was at a retreat last weekend. It was not with a bible study group but yet, to borrow from the bible, it certainly did restoreth my soul. For four solid days I was away from my desk – and all my daily concerns – as I communed with five quilt friends at a fabulous bed and breakfast in rural Indiana.
As you think about which friends you can collect for a similar experience that involves your favorite hobby, let me give you some ideas by telling you about quilt retreats. Oh, and by the way, you can start with acquaintances. I assure you, they will soon become friends.
I am a member of the Ohio Valley Quilters Guild, (OVGQ,) which is 300 women strong. The Guild puts on retreats twice a year where up to 75 women go to a state park or a hotel with conference facilities to sew nonstop from Thursday thru Sunday. Guild retreats are fabulous. Every level of quilter is there from novice to people like me with thirty years of experience. At a retreat your project is center stage so no one cares what you look like. No makeup needs to be worn. Nice hairdos are optional. In some venues, you can even sew all day in your jammies. Better still, snacks abound and a masseuse is available at $1.00/minute to ease away the strain of hunching over a sewing machine.
So marvelous are these events that splinter groups form to seek other retreat opportunities that exist. I am proud to announce that I am a member of one of these small groups. (Like going to the prom, I was thrilled when I got asked.) There are about ten women in our group and Kathy is our leader. At any given event four to seven of us attend as our schedules permit. Last weekend’s event was at the Hickory Road Inn in Batesville, Indiana, a fabulous venue that caters to crafters. We go there twice a year. We also go to a five-day retreat in Shipshewana, Indiana. And sometimes we even rent a cabin at a state park to sew our cares away.
Hickory Road Inn
As you can imagine, between stitches, we get to know each other. Parents, siblings, spouses, children, grandchildren, and pugs are all topics of discussion as are scads of sewing projects. Additionally, each group member has a lot to teach me and I’m not necessarily talking about sewing techniques – though they are chock-full of those!
My friend, Kathy, has taken and taught many quilt classes. She has answers to every single sewing question. But the lesson I learn from her is kindness. She never puts any project down but instead finds the good points of every work-in-progress no matter how much difficulty it is giving its maker.
My friend, Jane, has a fabulous stash of batik fabrics which she cuts into intricate pieces that she layers to form animal images. She has tried to teach me this, but the lesson I learn from her instead is how to have FUN. Suffering insomnia one night at the retreat, she tuned into the royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and came away with a fascination for fascinator hats, and so she created one! She was also the person responsible for that retreat when we watched and howled over a TV show called, Sex Sent Me to the ER.
My friend, Linda, has sewing skills, fabric, and thread out the wazoo. Intricate piecing and pictorial applique are her bailiwick. But the lesson she teaches me is generosity. When she takes on a project, she gives it her all. She worked two solid days at the retreat to create a dozen cosmetic bags – with zippers and pockets galore – that will be used as thank you gifts at the OVQG.
My friend, Ruth, is my newest friend. This was our first retreat together so I don’t know all her sewing skills but altruism is a top personality trait. The OVQG has two charitable projects. One is Kids’ Comforts and the other is Quilts of Valor. The first makes quilts for kids in need and the second for military combat veterans. Ruth heads the Kids’ Comfort program (Kathy heads the Quilts of Valor) yet she spent all weekend not only making Quilts of Valor, but making special pillow cases (that little square thing on the right side of her chest is a folded pillowcase) in which the quilts can be stored!
And finally, there is my friend, Michele. She has a wide repertoire of sewing skills. She pieces and appliques in cotton and in wool and forever has new projects to try. But the thing I learn most from Michelle is to put my best foot forward. Simply put, Michelle always looks terrific. Even her jammies are cute! And once those jammies are on, she often serves up the frozen cocktails she has brought to share with the group, making a great time even better.
It was a wonderful weekend! Should you like to recreate it, here is the simple recipe to follow:
A hobby + some friends (or acquaintances) + a trip out of town = a restored soul.
Try it, you’ll like it!