Friday, April 07, 2006

It's all about the friends...

I was thinking about the Ranch retreat experience when I feel into bed last night (at 9:30, I was pooped!) . Retreats are great experiences for getting inspiration, getting work done, and for getting away from real life for a bit to recharge and have fun. But the best part, really, is the people. So, as I've thought about how to describe my retreat experience, I thought I'd organize it by talking about the wonderful women there.

I've talked about my dear friend Janet Shore before. She's a frequent companion (and, indeed, instigator!) of quilting field trips. Janet won't mind my telling you that she's over 80, though no one would ever guess her age from her high energy and humor. She runs us all into the ground. But Janet has been an avid quilter for years and years and years, and she always says that the best part about is the wonderful friends she's made and the people she's met.

Janet planned to work on an unfinished project that has been hanging around in her closet for over 5 years. It's a mix of all coffee-related fabrics, in browns and blues and rusts. So she was determined to get borders on it and get the dang thing done. She worked on that for a while, but as we all chatted, we got onto the subject of Sudoku, the Japanese number/logic puzzle that is now all the rage. She loves crosswords, and wants to get better at Sudoku, but is having a hard time with it.

Well, knowing Janet's quilterly brain, Margaret pointed out that the numbers don't matter--you can do the puzzle with colors. This caused Janet great excitement, as she'd seen a quilt where someone had pieced together squares following a Sudoku grid, and she was eager to try it. (By the way, this seems to be a popular idea right now...A Google search turned up a bunch of entries for "Sudoku + quilt," including a class offering here and one done here as part of an Electric Quilt design challenge.)

Margaret had done one, which she whipped out and showed Janet (sorry, no picture) , then offered up some of that fusible grid stuff that some folks use for quick assembly of watercolor quilts. Margaret thought that Janet could solve a Sudoku with color instead of numbers, so Margaret and Pam (avid Sudoku-doers... ooh, say THAT three times fast) put her to work.

(That's Margaret across from Janet in the blue plaid shirt, with Pam between them in the grey. Diane A. and Pat Dicker are looking on.)

And, sure enough, Janet had a much easier time completing the puzzle with colors!

By the time Janet left, she had 9 neatly-sewn 9-patch blocks for the Sudoku sections, ready for inner sashing and a border. What a fun idea, huh? And speedy! (It's even speedier if you don't actually take the time to solve the puzzle and just use the puzzle answer page to guide your color placement: 1 is yellow, 2 is blue, 3 is purple, etc.)

You also know my good friend Pat M., who sat next to me. Her sister Mary Lou, from Massachusetts, comes to our October retreats, and it was very odd to be there without her. We talked often about how much we missed her and how much she would have enjoyed being here. Ah, well...we'll see her in October, I hope.

So, here's Pat, doing an unusual bit of hand-stitching. She thought she'd try a small Hawaiian quilt project, overlaid with organza, but wasn't having too much fun stitching through the tightly-woven batik fabrics she'd chosen. Hey, those are the experiences that make you love your machine even more, right?

Pat was also working on assembling "Sticks and Stones" blocks. This was an early arrangement, but it had changed pretty dramatically by the end of the retreat (and by which time my camera battery had given up.)

Pat revealed a piece that had everyone at the retreat oohing and aahing in amazement. It's her fish, "Bodega."

Pat was inspired to make this by an old article in Quilting Arts magazine about making fabric beads. Pat made over 600 inch-sized beads by wrapping strips of fabric around 1" cut bits of plastic drinking straw and glued them onto her fish shape. We worried a bit about Pat when she was in her bead-wrapping stage (picturing her muttering, "Time for Wapner! Time for Wapner!") but she seems to have returned to sanity. Or something akin to it, anyway.

Here's Bodega's face...gorgeous, yes?

More reports to come...I'm gonna go unpack another bag and throw some laundry in....


  1. OK! You missed Mary Lou, but you didn't miss me? Well, all I can say is I am taking M & M around the block for a walk and we don't miss you!! Just kidding!

  2. Hey, when you pick Jane Dunnewald over US, you gotta take the consequences! And did I hear you saying you missed US at Claremont? Huh?

    :-) Just kidding!

  3. OK, I'm back from my walk. Here is the thing - you have never been to Art Qult Claremont with me so I couldn't miss you; however I thought several times how much you would enjoy it. I\

    I really came back to say how much I enjoyed the Janet story - classic!!