I’m just a fool for a retreat.

It’s pretty bad actually.  People talk about going away to creative retreats to take a break from everyday life and all the challenges involved.  I go to retreats because I am a brat.  I love my life.  I don’t need a break or to get away or any of that.  I do it because I love it, and I get so much sewing done!  The only thing it gets me away from is this stinking computer.

I wrote a while back about the F.A.R.T. some cohorts and I went on to east Tennessee, which was a great time.  Just a handful of us with all of our sewing gear, and brains buzzing from projects continued and started.  Notice I didn’t say finished.  That would be taking it too far.

Then just a few weeks after that I headed to the Grand Oak Retreat in Alabama for an annual trip with another group of fun friends.  Kris Caddy, who you will get to know more later, organized the trip.  We rode to and from Alabama together, and in his words, it was a quick couple of hours in the car.  Not only is he a very talented quilter, but we also have a great time laughing and chatting.

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The Grand Oak Retreat is just plain awesome.  Cindy and her husband built the home specifically for this- creative retreats.  The three-story house is built on the side of a mountain in Scottsboro, AL that looks out over a beautiful lake. The family lives on the main floor, while there are two retreat areas, a smaller unit on the top floor, and a larger one on the bottom.  Each retreat area includes comfortable lodging and a kitchen spot as well as space for sewing and creating.  The top floor hosts 3-5, while the bottom floor hosts 10-14.  Cindy cooks all of the meals during the retreats, and she is a great cook.  Not to mention a wonderful hostess.  I don’t think she has much time for quilting anymore with all of the work that she does, but she knows just what to do to make all of us very comfortable.  Last year we got to hypnotize her chickens, but the chickens met an unfriendly end, so we had to settle for Left Right Center and runs into town to do a little shopping.  We suffered terribly.

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I may not be very disciplined at home, but I usually am while I am at retreat. Surprisingly, even with all of the shenanigans.  I’ve been known to take one project and work on it the whole time, but that was not so this time.  I had a list of deadlines to meet, and I knew this was the time to mark them off of the list.

My first goal was to finish my project for the #RainbowMiniSwap hosted on Instagram by Kate Basti of Stitch’N’Kitsch on Etsy. My partner has received her happy mail package way down under in Australia, so I can tell you a little about it now!  She is Marni Franks of Frankenstein’s Fabrics.  She loves dragons and skulls and all things magical and Halloween- all very different from what I love, but I had a feeling I could find something that would please her, and be a little expression of me at the same time.  I used the Creative Grids Pineapple ruler to make the background, and borrowed a graphic from my IG friend @cricketharris1.  As a note regarding construction, when it comes to projects like these, I find it easier to quilt the background before adding the applique.  The applique process then becomes part of the quilting and there is an outline of the applique on the back of the project.  I also use a 2″ cut binding, which makes for a tight, full and crisp binding.

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I also needed to work on my bee blocks for Stash Bee.  I am in Hive 9, which has been a great group so far.  I really enjoyed this particular pattern, and hope to use it again sometime.  Fellow hive mate Maureen chose “Linked Squares” by Christina of afewscraps.com.  The link to the info about the block is here, just in case you want to do it too…

FullSizeRenderThe third project I worked on was a center medallion for a Round Robin that I am a part of.  I feel very fortunate to be a part of this lovely group of makers, and I am really excited to see what will come back to me in a year.  If you aren’t familiar with Round Robins, they generally begin with a center block that is then passed to other members of the group and each member adds a new border, or round, to the original center.  There are pros and cons to these groups- you never know what the quality will be, and fabric selection can be scary.  In this case, I am not the least worried about the skill level of my fellow quilters, and we each contributed a fair amount of fabric with our blocks with instructions not to add any more fabric from our own stash.  So, I have now turned in my center block and picked up my first block to work on.  It’s due at the end of April, and I am excited to work on it.  I won’t be posing pics of progress because it’s a surprise for the recipient, but I will write a blog post about it when it’s all done.  In the meantime, here’s my center block.  It is from a pattern by Frecklemama called Fifteen Degrees and uses a 15 degree ruler by Creative Grids.

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So, what’s next?  Well, I’m sure it won’t surprise you too badly that I have another retreat to go to.  The Stash Bash is just around the corner, and this fall I’m headed to the Plantation Quilter’s retreat as well as Glamp Stitchalot.  I’m sure there will be another before the year is out…

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