On Friday, there was a secret sister swap. I had opted out because I have been working very hard at being more realistic with my time commitments and didn’t want to sign up for a spot and then be scrambling at the last minute to pull something less than stellar together for my person. I knew I would miss out on something fun, but I didn’t want to disappoint someone, so it was okay.
After the swap, Mel said, “Wait, there’s one more!” In addition to all the goodies they had brought for their secret sisters, they had also brought me gifts. Here I was, so happy that they were all here, amazed that they had all been willing to make the trip and they thought they should bring me gifts? I was overwhelmed before I even looked at the contents of the bag Mel handed me. And when I pulled out this?
I cried. This is the wall quilt Vanessa made. See those white spaces in the border? The pen we had stopped to get earlier in the day was so that everyone could sign their name on it. It’s kind of like the quilter’s version of the camp t-shirt everyone signs at the end of camp, only so much more awesome.
There were so many amazing things in this bag, and I love them all. In fact, if you look at the pictures in this month’s challenge post, everything pictured came to me from a Sewing Mama that weekend. And those aren’t even all the things. I’ll show you the others in another post. I’m making a note to tell them no gifts next time, but wondering if we could all make and bring wall quilts to swap with white space for signing…
Perhaps if I start mine now I’ll be ready.
Most of us arrived at the retreat on Thursday, some driving 16 hours to get there! We almost lost Jane and Vanessa in a series of road closures, but they made it. Whew! On Friday we headed up to SR Harris Fabric Outlet in Brooklyn Park. Their building is 30,000 square feet of fabric goodness. If you are in the Twin Cities area and haven’t been there, plan to spend the better part of the day shopping. Really. The pictures on their website are just a hint of what’s there. Be prepared to cut your own fabrics (and put away the bolts you’ve pulled!) because the staff only cuts if you need 5 yards or more. If you have questions, ask an employee or even another shopper. After all, fabric shoppers tend to be kindred spirits and quite willing to share their knowledge.
Some of the girls after shopping at SR Harris. From left: Sarah, Vanessa, Jeri, Steph, and Jane. This photo also shows a small corner of the front of the store. Thanks to Michelle for the picture!
We were a little worried about maxing out the suitcase weight (and space capacity!) of some of the mamas who flew in, so some of the goodies traveled home via USPS. Flat rate boxes are fantastic! I’ve added a scale to my list of things to bring to our next retreat so we can judge suitcases better and keep them under the airline limits.
This is a medium flat rate box. It weighed over 14lbs and had 36 yards of woven fabrics/quilter’s cottons in it. Tons of wonderful in that box!
After spending the better part of the day at the fabric store, we stopped to get lunch and also popped into a Jo~Ann store to get a fabric marking pen. I found out later what that was for, but don’t worry, I’ll tell you. Probably tomorrow. :p
I wonder what the girls were thinking when we drove down this road and I left them at the retreat.
Really, I didn’t mean to leave them for as long as I did, but I had to go get food. The retreat location was in this gorgeous out of the way place, but it was really out of the way. Quiet and calm, so relaxing, but not close. And I needed to go to Costco, a little over an hour away. Of course, this was partly due to the fact that I was apparently planning to feed a football team of teenage boys. Oops. Well, at least we had enough food, right?
In my defense, I did try to text them to let them know that I was bringing them pizza so they really hadn’t been left there to starve, but the text went through many hours later. They didn’t seem too much worse for wear when I returned, and I think they forgave me. We’ll do it differently next time. :)
Once everyone arrived and got settled, there was even some sewing.
clockwise from left: Jeri, RuthAnn, Melanie, Sarah and Rachael
And Vanessa (left) tried to teach Melissa (middle) and Melanie how to knit one night.
Some ladies brought a few of their extra fabrics to share and Vanessa thought this gnome fabric would make a great addition to the retreat house’s sitting room.
Here are Steph and Kathleen hard at work!
Thanks to Mel for the photos!
More to come!
This weekend, fifteen Sewing Mamas gathered in Lester Prairie, Minnesota. They came from Texas, California, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Illinois, South Dakota, Iowa, and, of course, Minnesota. It was fantastic. We laughed ourselves to tears, drank some wine, and discovered that, though we’d never met in person before, we were already friends.
We started talking about this last fall. There were many moments when I thought, “What in the world was I thinking agreeing to organize this? I’m not good at people!” Because here’s a secret. I’m really very shy. Very, very shy. And it’s easier to chat with people on a sewing board on the internet because they aren’t really there with you. You never see their face so you can’t tell if someone is looking at you like you’re nuts. The week before this event, I told my husband I was never going to do this again, it was a terrible idea. And honestly? If others on our sewing board had planned this somewhere else, I would have had a thousand reasons not to go. And I would have missed out on something fabulous.
I went to the airport on Friday to pick up Mel, Kelly, Ruth Ann, Rachael, and Jeri. My stomach was in knots. I got a text from Ruth Ann that they were all there while I was stuck in traffic. But when I spotted them at the airport pickup and recognized Mel and Jeri from pictures they’d shared on the board? I waved at them like a crazy person. I may not have met these girls in person before, but I *knew* them. And I resisted hugging all of them so they might not figure out right away that I am a crazy person.
And then I drove an hour to the retreat location and left them all by themselves for 3 or so hours. But more on that later. This is getting too long.
Talk to you soon,