June 30, 2009
In what looks like it might turn into a semi-annual tradition, I spent a long weekend up north with several friends from work at the same craft retreat house we went to last September. Some of the ladies went up on Thursday night, but I wanted to do some exploring on the way there so drove up myself on Friday. I ended up getting a later start than planned thanks to a big hail/rain/thunder storm that came through the area Thursday afternoon and knocked out the power to my office building (the building across the street was able to run on the generator but we don’t have that luxury here in our leased space), which meant I had to finish up several urgent customer tasks on Friday morning after things were back to normal power-wise. Even so, I managed to get out the door before noon. Unlike last time, I didn’t take any pictures of Big Boys on the way there, having documented the ones along this route already (though perhaps I should have done some re-shoots, since I had sun this time instead of rain). Instead, having discovered Find a Grave between then and now, I stopped to take pictures of headstones in three cemeteries I’d never been to before. If the weather hadn’t been so hot and melty, I might have been tempted to take even more. The temperature dropped to more pleasant levels as I drove farther north; by the time I stopped to get groceries before going over to the house it was gorgeous, with a nice breeze coming off the lake.
The rest of Friday was a happy mix of sewing and eating and chatting. Saturday was more of the same, with a bit of shopping and sightseeing and lounging around (and even a bit of exercising) added to the mix. I am happy to be able to say that I was very restrained in my purchases; in two quilt shops and one yarn shop, I only got one book and two baby quilt panels (all 50% off), one skein of sock yarn, one knitting pattern, and four fat quarters of fabric. I think paying cash for everything helped me keep control of the part of me that thinks more is always better. There was what was billed as “a different kind of quilt show” at the county historical museum, so we went to see what that was about. Near as we could tell, it was different because the quilts were folded and laid out on tables instead of being hung up. The quilts themselves were not particularly different, though I did pick up a couple good ideas. The exhibits other than the quilt show were great in the way small town museums often are, where it almost feels like peeking into someone’s personal scrapbooks and collections.
Despite my good intentions, I hadn’t managed to pull all the fabrics for either of the next two quilts on my list in time for the retreat, so I worked on more of the scrappy string pieced blocks that I first started making in 2004 for a block swap. These blocks are a quilt retreat tradition now, stretching back to the first one I ever went to in 2006. (I see in that entry that I had 40 blocks finished after that retreat, which means I need to do some searching around my house, as I did not find nearly that many when I was packing up for this trip, and I know I haven’t made a quilt from them yet so that’s not where they went.) Because string piecing doesn’t require much precision, it’s perfect for retreat, where I tend to get distracted talking to other people and looking at what they’re working on and also routinely violate my self-imposed “no sewing after 9 p.m. rule” and sew while tired (and sometimes under the influence of an adult beverage). As a bonus, when people see what I’m doing with scraps, they often donate theirs, so I get even more variety in my blocks, and I love variety.
Sunday morning it was my turn to cook; I made an egg bake with broccoli and sharp cheddar cheese that seemed to go over well. After breakfast, most of us started packing up, though one woman kept sewing, determined to finish her second quilt top for the weekend. (She’s an overachiever.) I stuck around long enough to help the last group carry stuff out to their car, then headed to a nearby cemetery (of course). It would have been great if at any time while I was walking around snapping pictures of headstones or when I went to dip my toes in the lake before heading out of town I had realized I left my baking dish on the counter, but I failed to notice until I was already home, three hours away. (Fortunately the woman who owns the house is going up next weekend and will bring it back with her so I haven’t lost it forever, unlike my gym toiletries.) That little lapse aside, it was a great weekend, and we’re already making plans for the next retreat.