Quilting for me is not only an art that allows my creativity to be fed and challenges me, it also has created friendships that supply support and laughter. For me, these relationships are the absolute best part of quilting. 

So, for the past eight years the end of February has been my favorite time of year in my quilting life—it is RETREAT time! My quilt group has been meeting monthly for the past 13+ years, but in 2014 we decided that we would like to get away for a long weekend and quilt. We are not a guild, we are a group of eleven that enjoy each other’s company, love to quilt, learn new things and of course—eat! 

Our retreat is held from Thursday through Sunday in a large cabin on a lake in the Smoky Mountains. The lodge was set-up specifically for quilters and has a wonderful large quilt room, several living spaces with large chairs and sofas, a huge kitchen, 8 bedrooms and 5½ baths—plus a laundry, but who is going to do laundry? We each bring projects on which we want to work and there is always at least one type of instructional class held for anyone interested in trying something new. We also play a game each night with different prizes each night and the grand prize on Saturday being a quilt that we made together. We plan our meals and food—always more than we can or should eat—breakfast is on our own, we usually share lunch time, but always have dinner together. It is truly a time where we enjoy each other and the unique friendship that has developed among eleven quite different personalities. 

I know I do not speak out of turn when I tell you that each of us looks forward to this time every year. It is a testament to the importance of this retreat and the abiding friendship and camaraderie we have for one another when you consider that three of us no longer live in Tennessee but would not miss this time. 

A retreat is a wonderful way to get projects done, try something new, and get away from your day-to-day responsibilities. You can indulge your quilting passion with people who love it as much as you do. Whether you go with people you know or go on your own, it is an opportunity to meet new people and share ideas. 

Retreats can be one day or multiple days. It can be a dream destination trip such as going to a designer’s workshop or going to a quilt shop’s retreat in a beautiful, vacation spot. Some local shops here in central Illinois host retreats and you can sign up individually at the shop. Also, there are a couple of retreat centers close by where you and a few friends can rent the space and enjoy the experience. Each retreat experience is different—do some checking and find one that fits your needs and budget. The important thing is to have space and time to relax and rejuvenate with uninterrupted time to quilt (and eat)! 

This is an opportunity, not only to work uninterrupted on your projects, but a time to bond and cement lasting friendships. As designer and teacher Jo Morton says, “I like to think of a retreat as a sisterhood of friends who gather to sew and chat. It’s about the friendships made and the time spent together.” The experience a retreat offers is a wonderful addition to your quilting “box of tools.” If you have not tried a retreat, why not look for something that appeals to you and fits into your lifestyle? It can be fun—and you get to eat! Happy Quilting!

I’m a resident in Central Illinois and welcome your comments. Please let me know if there is a quilting topic you would like to talk about. Contact me at [email protected].


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