Thursday, October 19, 2006

October at the Ranch

I've just returned from my semi-annual quilt retreat at the Bishop's Ranch. I managed to unload the car (which was full of fabric and sewing machine and lights and notions and various other necessary supplies) and lug it all upstairs, but there is quite a pile of stuff yet to be put away. As Scarlet would say, I'll worry about that tomorrow.

I've talked about this great retreat before here. The Bishop's Ranch is a gorgeous retreat center right here in Healdsburg, just 15 minutes from my house. It's close, but I feel like I'm in another world when I'm up there. Here's a shot of the main ranch house from one of the many lovely walking paths. It looks so serene, doesn't it?

You'd never suspect that inside that sedate and dignified building is a roomful of women and their fleet of sewing machines, all hard at work.

In the October retreat, we actually disperse to three different buildings on the premises. I spent my days in St. John's House with nine other hard-at-work quilters. Here's my good friend Pat, cutting out fabric for a Halloween project. (Note the sophisticated cross-hand rotary cutting position. This is for experienced rotary users only!)

On my right side sat my friend Ann. She was working on Tracey Brookshier's Shoji pattern in the most gorgeous japanese fabrics. Ann's a very attractive woman, but I'pm forced to post this not-entirely-flattering picture of her (sorry, Ann!) because it's the only one I got of her at the retreat. And besides, how many of us sew with a similar intense expression on our faces?

We had several first-time retreat attendees in our room, which was fun. Here's Justine, hard at work making signature blocks out of her vast assortment of 1930's fabrics. Justine was ecstatic at getting to fondle her fabrics after having them in storage for months while she and her family moved house.

Here's Cris, who sat calmly working on a hand-applique project for much of the time. That woman has patience!

I didn't manage to get pictures of Joanie and another Pat...I think it was because they were in such a whirlwind of quilting activity the whole time. They stayed up late (1, 2, or 3 am) every night and had stacks of things finished. I also didn't get a shot of my dear friend Rita, who tends to vanish into thin air when cameras appear.

I just love the visual and audio chaos of these quilting retreats. So many women, so much gorgeous fabric, so many interesting projects in the works....not to mention so much electrical equipment that it's a wonder we don't blow fuses on a regular basis. Here are Eleanor and Carolyn having a chat amidst it all.

Speaking of clutter, I've got fabric to put away. More pictures tomorrow!

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