Friday, October 07, 2011

Friends to left of me, friends to the right

I have spent the last 3 1/2 days away at my twice-yearly quilt retreat. What you see above was the view from my sewing table, and I loved looking up and out on a busy, happy, creative swarm of activity. But most of all I am once again struck by the inspiration and energy and joy I get from spending time with these women.

Here is Eleanor, who sits on my right. Usually, she comes to retreat prepared with tiny piles of cut pieces, which she then lays out in tidy piles for sewing. This year, she was sewing Freddy Moran style houses from her scraps, and what started as an organized bin of strips became an exploding pile of fabric. For those of us who always end up with a fabric mess, it was very satisfying to see.

Here is Pat, who sits to my left. Pat is usually working on a bunch of different projects at retreats, changing from one to another as the mood hits her. This time, she worked steadily on one major quilt, dong a lot of finishing details and hand work. As she has been working on her project for several years intermittently, it was exciting for all of us tom see it in the home stretch.

Retreats always end up generating lots of input and creative cooperation. I snapped this picture when I saw Eleanor, Ancella and Vicky huddling together to check the block arrangements on Ancella's batik quilt. I also figure I should record Ancella working with a brown and gray palette, as that is a rare event. She usually works in a "Put on your sunglasses" bright palette and we still tease her about the time she tried to make a pastel quilt that ended up with a lot of gorgeously vivid fuchsia pinks.

I could show lots more pictures of beautiful women working on delightful projects. But what I can never quite capture on film is the feeling of warmth and contentment and energy in the room, and that's what keeps me coming back time after time. It reminds me that quilting has always had a communal aspect, and the ritual of coming together to sew, even if we are not all gathered around the same quilting frame, is a powerful one.

I feel so lucky, and I know that the feeling of being with these ladies will carry me a long way.


  1. I miss being there soooo much. I was one of the original ranch hands.

  2. That exact feeling you describe is still with me a year later..I agree, retreat is a very special thing indeed.