Don’t Be a Chicken- Birds of a Feather will Flock Together

AKA- Go to the retreat even though you don’t know anyone- it will be amazing…

I’m not gonna lie.  I’m crazy addicted to social media.  Instagram is by far my favorite.  I discovered Instagram in the Fall of 2013, and not long after my obsession began, I found an open registration for a quilt retreat that actually was planned for a location in my own backyard.  It was the second annual Stash Bash, put on by Chris Warnick, also known as Frecklemama.

I was loving the other IG users that were signing up for the Stash Bash, and travel wasn’t going to be an issue, so I thought “Why not?”  Never mind that I did not know a soul that was going to be there, couldn’t figure out how on earth a Google group worked, and wasn’t quite sure what exactly to expect when I got there.  When April 2014 rolled around and it was time to pack up to go, I actually had the wrong dates in my calendar, had no idea who I was going to bunk with, and really didn’t understand what I was supposed to do for a secret sewing pal.  I was a nervous wreck by the time I got there and started setting up, and it seemed that maybe all I could hope and pray for was a productive sewing weekend.

Well, it was a productive sewing weekend, but it turned out to be way more than that.  I met some amazing people while I was there, and we talked, sewed, ate and laughed.  And I don’t just mean tee-hee-hee kind of laughing.  I mean tears, falling out of chairs, I-think-I-just-peed-a-little, makes-me-giggle-a-little-now-just-to-think-about-it kind of laughing.  And the friendships.  And the creative inspiration.  And the encouragement.  My stars, it was a great weekend.

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Click on the link for info about Stash Bash 2015

A few of these amazing creators live “locally”, which is a pretty generalized term in the quilting world.  One of them happens to be Kristi McDonough of Schnitzel & Boo who hosts the insanely popular IG mini quilt swap known as… you guessed it… #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap, or #makeaquiltmakeafriend. Kristi and I don’t live too far from one another, so when our schedules allow it, we get together from time to time to sew.

Of course, most of the time we aren’t that productive because we are too busy chatting, eating, or buzzing around town in her Mini Cooper or my Miata MX5.  We’re just cool like that.

But yesterday we actually got some stuff done.  I was impressed.

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Getting to know Kristi, Chris, Safieh, Nisha, Becky, Karie, Lee, Jenny, Elizabeth, and all the other amazing people that I only know by their IG names has been one of the highlights of this year for me.  And that’s saying a lot because it’s been a really good year.  I feel more confident in my own creative skin than I can ever remember, and so much of that happened when I started praying for help to plow through my fears.

So, the moral of the story is, if you have the chance to extend yourself just a little bit more, take it.  It will be worth every anxiety-ridden moment.

 

She’s ba-ack… No, not Poltergeist-

It has been so long since I blogged last that I am not sure I remember how!  Good grief!  Where to start?  I suppose it depends on what you are working on, but I’ve found when it comes to walking, scrapbooking, genealogy and writing, it is usually best to start where you are.  So, here goes…

IMG_4141[1]The Stash Bash.  Yeah, you heard me, I got to go.  Jealous?  Well, you should be.  It was stinking fabulous.

So, first, you must know that I couldn’t have been more anxious about this event.  I found these gals online through Instagram, but I did not know a single soul that was attending.  You know how this normally goes, most of us don’t go to things like this without a sista.  Or two or three.  I went alone.  Not only that, but I had the dates wrong on my calendar and almost showed up two weeks too early.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I emailed the host, Chris Warnick, to ask about directions the night before I almost packed up and headed to the event.  Her return email politely informed me that the Stash Bash would take place on April 24, not April 10, and could I please reply and let her know that I was aware of the correct dates?  Oy.  Way to introduce myself.  “Hi!  My name is Angela, and I am the idiot that can’t figure out what day I am supposed to be here.”  Thankfully I live 15 minutes from the venue and didn’t buy a plane ticket.  Or start a 12 hour drive.  Or whatever.

IMG_4103[1]So, once I got the dates figured out, I packed all my shtuff and headed over to the Calvin Center.  This was the view we had from our workroom, which I totally appreciated on the first day, but honestly, barely noticed after that.

IMG_4101[1]And this was where I “slept”.  We had a choice between bunk rooms and hotel-ish rooms, and I chose bunk.  Partly because it was cheaper, and partly because I wanted to check out the quilts on the other bunk beds!  Besides, you don’t go to quilt retreat to sleep, so I actually prefer this kind of set up, albeit a bit on the primitive side.  Sadly for my roomie, I had a touch of something-or-other and ended up hacking all night, which of course she said didn’t bother her one bit.  She was kind.

IMG_4104[1]Then there was swag.

IMG_4152[1]Then there was more swag.

IMG_4113[1]Then there were snacks to go with the swag.IMG_4226[1]All from all those guys.  Yeah, tha’s what I’m talkin’ about.  Are you an Instagramer?  Check out #thestashbash (not #stashbash, although there are some good looking mustaches on that one) and #sponsorlove.  Then go buy stuff. IMG_3279[1]The plan was to work on this little nugget, but you know what they say about the best laid plans, so that didn’t happen.  So, what did happen?

IMG_4228[1]This happened.  The Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented.  (You may click here to buy the pattern!IMG_4161[1]Now, in case you didn’t notice, let me tell you a few things about this bag.  Number one- it’s a bag.  I don’t do bags.  Number two- it has zippers.  I don’t do zippers.  Number three- it has 4, count ’em, 4 zippers.  Did I mention I don’t do zippers?  Let’s just say I now know how to do these zippers.  And I really loved making this bag.

So, in case you’re keeping track, I was wrong about dates, miserably nervous about going alone, and didn’t get anything done that I had planned to work on.  Well, that’s about where the list of disappointments ends.  (Except that the really nice guy that used to be the cook at Calvin was gone, which was pretty sad, but I didn’t go there for the food.)

I had a fabulous time.  I mean fabulous.

I learned a lot while making that bag, including that it was actually possible for me to make a bag, with the right teacher.  In fact, I may even make another one.  Maybe even a different kind.  Who knows, I may become a bag making machine.  Or not.  Either way, by the end of that project, I believed all of that bag making business, and I wouldn’t have without Kristi McDonough’s guidance.  She is awesome.

IMG_4158[1]Then there was my roommate.  And my table mates.  And my dinner mates.  And all the rest of my retreat mates.  I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed.  There was no drama.  When I said “hashtag” they knew what I was talking about.  When they spouted off names of designers and I didn’t know who they were talking about, they seemed to be okay with it.  No one seemed to care that we were in a room full of creators that varied from 12 IG followers to well over 2,000 IG followers.  And I was finally able to define what it means to me to be a “modern quilter.”

IMG_9823Honestly, for a long time I have believed that “modern quilters” were defined by two things- age and style.  I stand corrected.  From what I saw at the Stash Bash, I’d have to say that it is way more about technology and community than anything else.  There is just something almost explosive about how technology has facilitated a flow of creativity and know-how that we have never experienced before.  It changes the way we see the world and ourselves, thus changing the way, and even what, we create.  What a fabulous time to be a quilter.

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