Organising and running a quilt retreat is a bit like planning a wedding. Venue, food, activities, guest accommodations and a multitude of other aspects have to be arranged. It winds you up into knots, knowing it will all be fabulous but the days leading up to it can be nerve-wracking. Then it feels like it’s over in an instant. For Peaks, the day dawns, the van is packed, I’m on my way. All that can be done, has been done. I walked in, squealed with delight as others were there, and got stuck in with arranging tables and putting out the Mobile Quilt Shop. An hour later and more squeals are heard and new introductions made. Peaks 3 has truly begun!
It didn’t take long for the ladies to lay claim to a table & begin settling in. The machines began whirring and chatter was easy. Day 1, Thursday, is relaxed specifically so noone feels like they miss something if they arrive later than the others. There were a few new items: Chubs, those bits of fabric from The Stash (my stash) that were really too big to be a scrap but too small for yardage, folded nicely and put in open boxes. They were sold by weight, to be noted on each person’s Tab. Everyone had a “Tab”, designed to alleviate the need for cash on hand to purchase items from the Mobile Quilt Shop.
The Shop had the welcome new addition of Aurifil threads, in sets of beautiful colours as well as staple neutrals, along with the usual stock of Quilter’s Dream batting in various lofts. After a nice dinner of too much food (but all the better to be served!), we had a quick Clean Machine tutorial. It’s always shocking to find what dust bunnies reside in our machines, even after having been cleaned recently.
A change in needles & everyone was off on their own projects. I am very lucky that my mum was able to come over from the US and join us. She is an expert seamstress but had no experience with quilting. I suggested that we find a pattern for a mug rug that she liked to get her started so she was off to play with the bins of Chubs. We sewed until the wee hours of the morning (00h30 to be precise) and there was still a bit of giggling going on after that.
Friday morning brought grey mist and rain clouds but spirits weren’t dampened one bit. We had a bite of breakfast & jumped on the machines again. Our Dye Lady, Carolyn, was coming mid-morning so there was a flurry of activity to get some things done before we started in on the fabric dyeing. There was a good bit of theory to take on before we began playing with the dyes and sample fabrics but everyone was attentive. The hardest part for me was not knowing what would be the end result. Of course I had an idea but you just never know with dye. Fab stuff, these Procion dyes. Cold water dyes, non-toxic (ok, if you eat it or snort it, it will make you sick but normal handling is ok), in a myriad of colours. We had just the basics but I could see how someone could go hog wild in the purchasing. I can see this being an activity for the boys this summer when I get the “I’m bored” routine. So like kids, we jumped right in and started playing around. It was fascinating to see how the colour was absorbed, quicker with more salt, until it deepened to the desired colours. We tried Shibori techniques and have a greater appreciation for all of the painstaking work it takes to create it.
The favourite method was the “Cram Jar” whereby you just cram the fabric into a glass, with concentrated dye solution, adding colour as you wish. It produces the most common pattern that I think we all expected, a snowflake crystalline effect. I think we just liked the name! 😀
We ended up spending the better part of the day playing with dyes so decided to have a quiet afternoon of sewing on our own projects. After dinner, we had a game of Dice Swap. It’s a variation on the game Left-Right-Center, where we each started with 3 fat quarters that we’d brought. One rolls the dice, representing the 3 fabrics. If you roll a 1, 2, or 3, you do nothing. Roll a 4 and one fat quarter goes to the person before you (on your right). Roll a 5 and one fat quarter goes to the person ahead of you (on your left). Roll a 6 and the fat quarter goes into the centre “pot”. If the dice comes to a person with no fat quarters, that person gets to choose one from the centre pot to keep. This carries on until everyone has chosen 3 fat quarters. It was great fun and a new way to swap!
Then Miss G got started with the Mystery Stash Attack project. There were actually two, one more of an intro, giving way to a slightly more complex one. We made a small rectangular pouch with a zipper and then moved on to the slightly more complicated “dumpling” pouch. Some were having such a good time with the pouches that they carried on making more. The Shop also had a large selection of small & medium zippers in a rainbow of colours to choose from and each dumpling pouch was rewarded with a merit badge of sorts, a little Murano-esque zipper pull. Such fun and we were up late again!
Saturday there were still a few bits of fabric coming out of the dye baths so we started late morning on Channelling Ricky Tims with our Convergence quilts. I showed one I did earlier, without a border, and then had another in progress so it was easy to see the method. Mum took over piecing the second one so I could go around and observe others. It was wonderful to see them take shape.
Saturday evening we were treated to a inspiring Show and Tell, of past & present projects in progress from ribbon embroidery, to previous Peaks’ quilts, to beautiful hand-appliqué & a multitude of others. Thanks to a discount from our friends at the Fat Quarter Shop, there will be lots of beautiful projects to come too. Looks like we’ve all been pretty busy and not just this weekend!
Sunday morning I awoke to Miss JJ pleased as punch with her newest pillow. What?! How did that happen? She went to bed before I did last night and I was up at 8h. Jeez, I certainly did NOT get the early worm that day! 🙂 There was a lot of auditioning of fabric for the borders of the Convergence quilts, slowly coming together in a spectrum of beautiful colours.
My mum reminded me that she needed the pattern to make the little thread catcher bags and then Miss J & Miss H piped up that they too wanted the pattern. So Miss G got out her files & showed them how to make them. Mum was the designated pressing fairy so it was apropos that her thread catcher would have little primitive fairies drawn on it.
So all in all, we’ve had a very productive weekend. Peaks 4 can’t get here fast enough but I’ll need the summer to get caught up! 🙂