Well, here I am with my report on the AMAZING retreat I went to last weekend. I have to tell you that this weekend away just filled my soul. I have been running myself ragged with work and haven't had a lot of "me" time lately (despite all my traveling). It was so nice to have a weekend away where my only commitment was to sew!
I have so many photos and so much to tell you, I will probably have to split this up into a few different posts. Hope you don't mind...but it will be difficult for me to section things off!
- In the front row is Toni (left), from Iowa. She doesn't have a blog (yet).
- Next to her is Shelly (right) from Prairie Moon Quilts. Shelly is the one who invited me to come to this retreat. Shelly and I met through blogging, and we have conversed via our blogs and e-mail for about a year now. We've become pretty good friends and always said we wanted to meet in IRL (in real life). This was our chance. She is the only person I "knew" coming to this retreat, and I am ever so grateful to her for asking me to come and introducing me to all of the wonderfully talented, funny, warm, sensitive, supportive, and creative women. WOW!
- In the back row on the left is Doris (from Iowa) of Threads of Conversation. Doris was the angel responsible for organizing the event!
- Next to her is Michelle (from Georgia) of Frustrated Quilter. Michelle is René's sister.
- René (from Florida) is right next to Michelle. René blogs at René Creates.
- Next to René is Terri (from Wisconsin). Terri blogs at Terri's Notebook.
- Next to Terri is Amanda (from Minnesota). Amanda blogs at Crazy Mom Quilts.
- Next to Amanda is Mary (also from Minnesota). Mary blogs at Mary on Lake Pulaski.
- Next to Mary is Cindy (from California). Cindy blogs at Around the Block Designs.
- And then, of course, I'm on the end.
These are some seriously creative and talented women, as you will see throughout my posts. You are going to want to check out their blogs. I'm just sayin'.....
Today, I'll show you our digs. Come back tomorrow for a parade of projects. Then, I'll show you the stuff I bought, what I worked on, and the goodies I received!
So, here is part of the building that Gruber's Quilt Shop, in St. Cloud Minnesota is in. It's a little L-shaped strip mall-looking building.
When you walk in through those white doors, you are in a sort of foyer. In front of you is the quilt shop. (Notice the words over the door! "Be prepared to be overwhelmed!" You'll see in a minute they are true to their word!) Outside here is an array of sale fabric, north woods fabrics, "big boards" for your ironing board, and portable ironing stations. Also in this foyer are entrances to a bridal shop, a little antique and gift shop, a florist/gift shop, and a coffee shop. It looks pretty small and unassuming, right? WRONG! This store is HUGE! Let me give you a tour of this amazing store! (I had to get special permission to take these photos, as they don't allow photos in the store to protect the copyrights on the patterns and quilts displayed.)
Here is the first room. You are looking at the cash register area. All around this room are holiday prints. You can see Halloween stuff on that back wall. To my left (you can't see it) is all the Christmas stuff.
As you walk directly past that room, you see a pattern wall and just behind me is a book wall. A cutting table is in front of me. You can see there are samples galore in this store!
Then there is an area that is all notions and quilting stencils. You can only see about half of it in this photo. Notice that through the doorway is an entire room filled with wonderful yarns and knitting patterns! Whoa horses...
OMG. The area with the batiks was amazing. You can see some of them here, but where you see the blues wraps all the way around the wall, and this whole wall on my right is full of batiks. There's another cutting table in this area. (I think there were a total of 4 cutting tables in this shop.) Through that doorway is the front of the store, back where the Christmas fabrics were. We are only about half-way through this store so far!
There are several other sections that I didn't get photos of as well. Are you getting the sense of how massive this store was? I spent 2 hours shopping in here one day and another 2 hours the next day. Each time, I found stuff I hadn't seen before. It was quite a place to shop!
Across the parking lot is this building. This is where the retreat center is. You go in through the glass doors there and go upstairs. The entire upstairs is the retreat center. It is sort of nondescript, I think. I wondered if they did that on purpose...for safety reasons.... There are actually two retreat centers up there. One holds about 10 people (which is where we were) and is on the left side. The other holds fewer people....maybe 6?...and is on the right side. See the little store sticking out in front here? It's an antique store that had some nice vintage sewing machines, notions, trims, and feedsacks, among other treasures. And down below us was a spa, where you could get massages, if you wanted to. I was tempted, but didn't. Saved my money for fabric!
Here is the sewing area where we all hung out. There were a bunch of long tables and power strips. There were three ironing stations and two design walls where you hang quilt blocks. The door you see at the end of the room goes to the kitchen area, which had refrigerators, tables, chairs, a microwave, and coffee makers. (No stove or anything, so you should be aware of that.) Just past that is the bathroom. It was sort of "locker room" style. There were 4 toilet stalls with 2 sinks. Past those, there were 2 showers, with another big sink and counter area. It was plenty for the 10 of us. Worked out very well. The other doors you see behind us lead to bedrooms.
Here is a view from the other side of the room. You can see the nice windows let in a lot of light. There were also 3 cutting tables, equipped with cutting mats. (Bring your own rulers and rotary cutters.)
This was our room. This is pretty much what they all looked like (sorry for my dirty lens!). Our room had three single beds, with quilts of course, lamps, bedside tables, a couple of chairs, and the like. Very comfortable for the three of us. I shared a room with Doris and Shelly. It was all very comfortable and nice. It's a great place to have a retreat. Good facilities for sewing and socializing, and GREAT shopping! Loved it. It was pretty affordable, too, I thought. I think I paid about $67 per night to stay there. We stayed two nights. Not bad. We brought most of our own food for breakfast and lunches, so that saved time and money. We went out to eat for dinner, mostly.
Another special treat was that Brooke, from The Quilted Fish Design Team, who lives about an hour from St. Cloud, drove over to have dinner with me on Friday night. It was so much fun to meet her IRL, finally, and to have a chance to talk with her and get to know her a little. It was a special treat for me!
Well, that's about enough for today. Come on back tomorrow, and I'll show you a parade of projects that people were working on! I'm really at a loss for words for how wonderful this all was! I can only hope my photos can convey it for you!
Until next time,
P.S. I weighed in today and lost 2 pounds over the weekend! Thanks, girls, for your support. That puts me at 20.2 pounds lost altogether so far! (I look at these photos and can't believe that. I still ahve a long way to go. I can't imagine myself 20 pounds heavier even. Well, yes I can. I probably wouldn't have even posted photos of myself!)