The Getaway Gang

The Green Apricot hosted two retreats in 2017.  One coincided with QuiltCon in Savannah, GA, and planning for it began two years ago.  The other was just simply a getaway to take a breather at the end of summer and beginning of fall.  This one was a little more last minute, and while based a great deal on the fun time we had at Tybee Island in February, it was intended to be more low-key and have better accommodations.

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The Fall 2017 edition of  #thegreenapricotgetaway was located at a resort in Crossville, TN called Fairfield Glade.  I think you could call it a mixed-use property, as it is part resort and part community.  There are people who live there full time, but there are also a number of condominiums, and amenities ranging from golf courses to walking trails, from horseback riding to swimming, from medical facilities to a spa.  It’s located just off of I-40 about an hour west of Knoxville, and while the property is huge, I was surprised that not many seem to know about it.  It is not explicitly a retirement community, but it is definitely retirement friendly.

So, a few months ago I reserved 6 condos and got to work planning.  I knew that the condos were not big enough for all of us to sew in, and I reserved the classroom in the community center for three days.  I ended up limiting the attendance to just 12, including myself, because I was concerned about having enough room for all of us to be comfortable sewing in the classroom.  Each person had a 6 foot table, and there was plenty of room for 3 cutting mats and 4 irons.  Perfect size, and no electrical problems!

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Not everyone knew each other before the retreat, but the beauty of a small group like this is the opportunity to chat on a more personal level with other people in our sewing community.  There was a wide range of personalities and ideologies, and it made for some fascinating conversations throughout the days and nights.
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Machine name tags helped with getting to know your sewing neighbor, but putting them on the handwheel certainly made them more entertaining.  If you don’t believe me, just try it sometime.  I had prepared and brought several games to play throughout the getaway, but in the end decided to keep things simple.  We had several gifts donated by Rana from Sewn Into the Fabric, some of which were part of daily treats, like this dang cute pumpkin pin cushion called Big Delores, and some were drawn for.

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One game we did play was to find the blue Peanut M&M.  Before heading to the retreat, I sorted 12 pounds of Peanut M&Ms by color, and hid a blue one in one of the jars.  The one to find it won the first prize of the week- a Seymore Bones kit from Rana!  Kris didn’t miss a beat and immediately dumped out his jar of M&Ms and found the blue one…

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That started the drawings that went on throughout the retreat.  Kris drew the name of the next winner, and then also drew what prize they got.  We had another Seymore Bones kit, three copies of “Simply Strings,” also by Rana, and several boxes of Wonder Clips by Clover.

I didn’t get pictures of every project that was made or worked on, but I got a few.  Here’s just a snippet of what some of us were working on…

During the planning process I found that I was less than excited about catering options, so I decided to cook for all of us.  Preparing food for 12 can seem daunting in some ways, but really, I come from/have a large family, so I am pretty accustomed to cooking for a crowd.  I don’t consider myself to be an especially impressive cook, or excessively healthy, but I feel like I do okay in the kitchen and I have learned a lot about improving my own nutrition over the last several months.  I checked with everyone for any special needs, then set a menu based on meals that I’ve made for my own family before.  Most of the shopping had to be done ahead of time, so my car was incredibly weighed down on the drive to Crossville!

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We ate at my condo because, well, I hate food near fabric!  Snacks are okay, but it really does bug me to sit in front of my machine with a plate of food.  The sewing room was just under a mile away from the condos, so most of us drove back and forth for lunch and dinner.  But the weather was PERFECT for a walk, as well.  I served the same way I do in my own home- countertop buffet style.  I also dislike a lot of garbage, so we used real plates and glasses and I washed cloth napkins between each meal.  I very much enjoyed cooking for everyone, and with a little preparation it wasn’t nearly as much work as it could have been!

Monday:  Lunch- Green Veggie Minestrone with salad bar; Dinner- Acorn squash with sausage, apples, and kale, roasted broccoli, and salad

Tuesday:  Lunch- Salad and sandwich bar; Dinner- Lemon rosemary chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus, muffins and raw veggies

Wednesday:  Lunch- Sandwich and salad bar; Dinner- Pork roast and apples with roasted mixed veggies and raw veggies

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Several of us also took a minute or two to visit some of the local establishments, like Little Blessings Quilt Shop in Crossville, and Gina’s Bernina in Knoxville.  This fabulous yarn shop was just a few miles down the road from the resort, and I was glad to have the chance to stop in at the Yarn Patch.  It’s a lovely shop, to say the least, and I didn’t have to look to hard to find something to take home with me.  I was especially impressed with the person working there, who I assume is the owner.  She handled her customers beautifully- gently guiding them as needed, and letting them wander as desired.  It really was a pleasure to shop there, and I hope to support this shop again sometime in the future.

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And just like that, it was all over.  The weather was wonderful.  The accommodations were perfect- including the enormous mirrored bathtub/shower in every unit- haha!  But the best part was the company.

Until next time…

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…

To flange or not to flange- what is the question?

Okay, so this might be the first time in my retreat going history that I have finished a quilt within a month of the event. I mean really, I still have quilt tops from past years I haven’t finished yet, but this one? It’s done.  If you read my earlier post, you know that this pattern is “Urban Cabin” by Atkinson Designs.  You also know that I never seem to purchase patterns and fabric at the same time, so I don’t normally have correct yardage.  This is the perfect example, hence the 1″ piano key border, and the leftover 10″ squares on the back.

Urban Cabin- Retreat quilt

It’s probably because I have the added pressure of there being a purpose for this quilt- I want to give it to my sister-in-law.  I find that having a real purpose usually spurs me on a little more than just for the fun of it.  Although, that should be a good enough reason as well!

Urban Cabin flange

I do a lot of improvisational quilting, mostly because I am usually ill prepared, or I just don’t want to do it that way.  This time, I only had a stack of 10″ squares and a smallish bundle of 2 1/2″ strips, plus just barely enough of the dark brown for the background.  This led to a problem when it came to the binding and all I had enough left to use were the 2 1/2″ strips.  I couldn’t put them right up next to the piano key border- it was just too much.  So, I dug through the scraps of dark brown and found that I had just enough left to make a 1/4″ flange to break it up a bit.  Worked perfectly if you ask me.

Urban Cabin back

I had a few 10″ squares left, so I dug through my bins to find just enough of these other fabrics to put together a back.  I really love piecing backs, and I really hate not using ALL of the fabric I have purchased.

So, as if a finished retreat quilt wasn’t enough to puff up my pride, I also am pretty dang pleased with the photo editing I learned how to do for this post.  By golly, I will figure out all this new fangled technology.  After all, improv is my thing.