Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Quilt Bloggers' International Retreat

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen photos of the glorious fun-, friends- and fabrication-filled three days I had recently.  You've probably read posts from some of the other bloggers who gathered at Julie's.  I haven't read any of their posts yet; I wanted my take on the retreat to be authentic and mine, you know?  So if I'm repeating stuff you've already seen and read about, this would be why.  Notice I make no apologies!  Nor do I for the many photos. I'm still soaking it all in.

You may recall from this post, this post, and this post, that I'd been down to visit Julie last summer. I was so excited to be going back!
So you see where I live in relation to Julie, about 300 km (185 miles) south of me as the crow flies.  We didn't take the ferry across Lake Erie, but drove around the west end of the lake and on down, about 4.5-5 hours.

After a frenzy of hugging on Thursday, (Tish and I were finally together in person! Not on a stick! Not on FaceTime! And I'm taller than her!!! That happens but rarely, as I'm vertically challenged at just 5'2") we visited, set up, sewed for a while...

and then headed out to share a meal together at a local Mexican restaurant:
Everyone agreed it was the best Mexican food they'd ever tasted.

The next day we hit the road bright and early, heading into Amish Country.  Julie lives just a short distance away.  It's like stepping back into the 1940s or 50s.  It was a glorious morning, temps headed once again to 80!
Clockwise from top left: selfie :-); Quilt shop #1 Somewhere Sewing; Inside view of oh, maybe one quarter of the shop (and they're expanding); the group, and our purchases
Somewhere Sewing is located in Millersburg.  Their prices are excellent (especially by Canuck standards) and they have a very good sales section ($6/yard).  We helped make room on the shelves for more bolts of new fabric.  My MacGyver had come along and spent an interesting many minutes chatting with one of the owners about all things from the Amish to the quilt shop business.  They are expanding in two directions for classroom area and for sewing machines.  They do 50% of their business online.

From there we drove to Berlin (say that BER-len, not the German way, Ber-LIN) to hit Zinck's Fabric Outlet before lunch (and we went back after lunch, just so you know, because it is that big and that good).  This was almost tied in my "I cannot WAIT" anticipatory feelings with Millers and Zinck's:  Boyd and Wurthmann for lunch!!  You need to be there early, like 11:30, or you will be standing in a long line waiting to get in.  If you go, and you do see a long line, do not walk away; it is 'Wurth' (ha, that just came to me) every minute waiting.  I had what I had last time, grilled Swiss cheese with fries.  I chose not to have pie this time (but why didn't I buy a couple of pieces to bring home??) but shared a piece of Turtle Cheesecake with MacGyver (all food is homemade from scratch, and from local ingredients).  'Wurth' every calorie, yes indeed.
Inside Zinck's, that is just part of one wall of the quilting section; the regular pies you can get at B&W, and yep there are daily specials too besides all those; a shot of my cheesecake, shoot, after I'd scraped off the whipped cream for MacGyver. Don't spoil a good cheesecake with whipped cream, never liked it never will.  The cheesecake?  A slice of heaven.
After we rolled (literally) out of the restaurant, with our bellies a little heavier in an oh-so-good way, and our wallets not a lot lighter in an also oh-so-good-take-me-back-there-anytime way, we went back to Zinck's.  I took a browse through some other areas of the store, specifically the flannels, and found a beautiful bolt of baby blue flannel which I will put on the back of my Meadow Mystery quilt!  Four yards and $20 later (I know!!) I was a happy camper.  I may have found a few more quilting fabrics to go with the flannel; as Tish says, didn't want it to be lonely.  Several of us picked up a 10-yard roll of polyester batting.  Guess how much....
Yup.  For the entire roll!  It will be great in charity quilts and I might be using it when I quilt up last year's Midnight Mystery as I already used it in another quilt, and am very impressed with how it quilted up.

Julie is an amazing enabler.  I did not mind letting my wallet get lighter; she can point a person in the right directions to savings upon savings.  And we're talking quality name brands and great designers.

Next stop was Charm.  And charming town it is, with my favourite quilt store in the world, Millers' Dry Goods.  You may recall the story I told last year of telling Julie how I see so many Amish people in a certain area of Sarasota, and many of them handquilting in a favourite shop down there, Alma Sue's Quilts, and how one lady who works there cutting fabric, Mary, is just the sweetest and is from somewhere in Ohio...and my utter SHOCK when I walked into Millers' and who is standing there, but Mary!  Totally unfazed by the coincidence, she said, "Oh yes, we get a lot of Canadians here in Charm and also down in Sarasota."  Well I got to hug her with my eyes and chat for a while with her on this trip too.  It was Charm Days so the entire store, ENTIRE STORE was 20% off.  Including the sale section.  Be still my pounding heart.  It's a good thing I did not know that until I was at the checkout, or I'd be there still.  And I'd have had a prolonged hotflash contemplating all the fabric that could be mine for oh, the likes of $4.80 and $4/yard after the 20% discount...No lie!!! I'm getting another hotflash just thinking of all the fibres I left behind to languish in that basement, LOL.

From Charm we headed to Fence Row Antiques in New Bedford, across country, along winding and hilly roads, with just incredible scenery.  Our brains were already full to the brim, and I know Tish and I were like, man I am toast! Let's go back and pet fabric and just sew...but wait, I am SO GLAD we had Julie as our intrepid and capable host...

Here we pulled into a farm.  Several outbuildings greeted us as we drove up and down the meandering lane to the former garage that is home now to a treasure trove of antiques.  Theresa, the owner, served us home-pressed apple cider from homegrown apples, the likes of which I have never tasted before, nor probably ever will, like a bite of crisp, warm from the sunshine apple.  She also served us homemade melt in your mouth, no lie, peanut butter cookies (to die for) and brownies (I could not even take one bite of one I was that full).  MacGyver and I at first got our dog fix before all that with her two sweet girls, Norwegian Elkhounds.  We have had two in our dog history, both German Shepherd/Norwegian Elkhound crosses, Duke and Sasha.  Sasha was our dog before Naala and Rocco.  We lost her in 2007 at the ripe old age of 13.  Guess what these two darlings' names are?  Sophie and.... Sasha!

I found not one but two antique quilts that came home with me.
Isn't that a great seasonal display Julie made just outside the building where we sewed?
This baby quilt, hand-embroidered and handquilted with exquisitely tiny stitches was one.  A queen size one was the other:
fittingly photographed by Julie's antique gas pump
How about a closer look at the quilt?  Though not as tiny stitches as in the baby quilt, it is nonetheless beautifully handquilted too.
This is a block I have never seen before; I will be posting more about this quilt in the near future.

Theresa's prices are extremely reasonable.  She sells antique fabrics by the package as well for anywhere from 50c to maximum $3.  She also has antique quilt blocks and many, many, many more items as you can see in the one photo.  MacGyver wanted to buy the garage that all the stuff was in! He was in love with the old building.  I was in love with her counter where you paid, made from an old door and fireplace mantle posts from a house (in her husband's family I believe, maybe his grandmother's?) that was built in 1840-something.  It's the first photo in the collage above.

From there we headed cross-country (two bridges are under repair in the area which is why) to Raven's Glenn Winery for dinner.  MacGyver and I, and I think I can speak for Tish and Dave who carpooled with us, are so very glad those bridges are out, as we just loved going the back way and seeing so much of the land that is off the beaten path of major highways.
The setting sun made for a spectacular view as we dined.  We had wonderful food, and a wonderful waitress, who bestowed upon each of us a free wine glass, thanks to Dave asking to buy just one.  Not do a tasting, nope, he'd enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon (and I concur; it was fabulous) and just wanted to buy one glass as a souvenir.  Didn't she come back after saying, "I'll see what I can do," with one for each of us!!

The third and final day was spent sewing, visiting, sharing ideas and tips and tricks, and discussing our blogs over a potluck lunch:  to die for chili made by Julie, homemade bread and fudge to die for made by one of her daughters, and various other shared items to sample.
We made a group quilt, something I hope we do each year from now on (yes! I want this to be the first annual event).
And took a final group photo or two:

Dave, Terry, Jennifer, Tish, Julie, me and Beth

More hugs.  It's hard to be really quite close, yet too far to just pop in.  Each of us drove from 2 to 5 hours to get there, so not bad at all, really.  So many messages have flown back and forth across the pixel-airwaves, saying, "I miss you"...  Julie was an incredible host: able, cheery and peppy, and so much fun, (Energizer Bunny extraordinaire!), organized, had thought of simply everything, kept us happily occupied with not a moment of 'now what' time, promoted her area so well and so obviously from the heart that we all were, ha, pun intended, charmed by the entire three days.  Thank you, Julie, from the bottom of my heart.

She and Beth had the idea to have a goody bag for each of us.  We each brought a little something to put in the bags.  Beth made them and oh! it was hard to choose, as all were so pretty.  Here's what was inside:

So what bloggers went?
In alphabetical order:
Terry of Terry Ann Hartzell - Insights
Jennifer of The Inquiring Quilter
Beth of Cooking Up Quilts
David of Dave the Quilt Engineer
Tish of Tish's Adventures in Wonderland
Julie of Pink Doxies
and me
Each of the links will take you directly to the post on the retreat that blogger wrote, if it has been published.

Driving home...until next year...  There will be another!  Stay tuned.
A typical road scene
Linking up with
Cooking Up Quilts (hey!! my mini round robin got featured!  Pshaw!)
Free Motion by the River (Well, another hey!!!  I got featured!  Well Walter 2 did!  Cool!)
Sew Fresh Quilts


  1. Looks like so much fun! Thanks for the photos ♥


  2. When is the next one? Tell me now so that I can block it on my calendar. I am happy that you had fun but bummed that I could not be there. I feel pouty...like a spoiled brat.

  3. It sounds like you all had such a fabulous time. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Well . So much to say I can't fit it all in a comment box . Looks like you had so much fun in so many ways . Sending hugs across the Atlantic

  5. It sounds like you had an amazing time. I'm so jealous!!! I'm glad you got to enjoy such a great time with friends. That's the best!!

  6. Sounds like you enjoyed all the things about the area -- Boyd and Wurthman's is my favorite pie stop!!

  7. So fun. Thanks for your photos - with going to all the blogs, it was like being there.

  8. Sandra, I *loved* reading your post! It brings back memories of all the fun and it is fun to see the trip through your eyes. You have some great pictures (why didn't I get a pic of my coconut cream pie?!?), and reading about Miller's and Zinck's makes me want to get in the car and go right back to pet more fabric! We WILL do this again - but I don't want to wait a whole year to see you again!!!! :)

  9. I enjoyed seeing the photos and hearing what you did. I like the group quilt and oh those fabric prices..

  10. Another wonderful post ....I feel like I was on the trip with you.

  11. It was so much fun just reading your post I almost felt like I was there and I never spent a dime. But I am really jealous of your fun and shopping experience.

  12. It was enchanting to be in everyone's company, and I have a head and heart full of good memories. Thank you, thank you for sharing so deeply. I love you guys! (And already thinking about putting a date on the calendar for next year. Shouldn't we?)

  13. It was enchanting to be in everyone's company, and I have a head and heart full of good memories. Thank you, thank you for sharing so deeply. I love you guys! (And already thinking about putting a date on the calendar for next year. Shouldn't we?)

  14. It sounds like a fantastic time, and it was fun to follow on Instagram. And reading this before 7am might have been a slight mistake as now I am very hungry, haha!

  15. That sounds like such an amazing time. I am a little jealous over here. How wonderful that you all shared quilting and blogging interests.

  16. So fun reading about your retreat! Thanks for taking us along on your adventure! I would just LOVE to have been there with you other shorties. (I'm 5' 1") It makes me want to find a local retreat and drag somebody alone with me. :)

  17. Oh my goodness, that looks like so much fun! I'm just a tad bit jealous of you all :-) I love the little heart block with the leaves! Wendy at piecefulthoughts@gmail.com

  18. It looks like you had a wonderful time! And how fun it must have been making a group quilt!

  19. Sounds like a won-won-wonderful time! Bet you already can't wait for next year's retreat! XO

  20. How great was that weekend!!!! I'd already read the other bloggers "take" on the weekend but was waiting for yours, Sandra....you know I value your opinion. My husband, daughter and son-in-law and his parents took a trip to Berlin a few years ago...I've been wanting to go back...now with your post I have the "ammunition" I need to get hubby to return! (When he's feeling better, he's been ill for 8 weeks now...). Aren't quilty friends just the very best, most generous in the whole world? I'm very happy for you....a bit envious...but not much...just a wee bit. Blessings and a quilty hug....(ps...I saw how you TOWERED Tish...lol...I'm only 5' even so I think I'm even taller than she!) Kathy in WV

  21. What an amazing weekend! It looked like it was so much fun as I was seeing pictures on IG...I think I mostly only saw Tish's for some reason, though. So very jealous of all the fun/sewing/fabric petting adventures :)

  22. I have to ask about Mary. Was that Mary who works in the bargain basement, is a tiny woman about 72 years old? Before Miller's changed management last year, I use to work their twice a year at their sale in May and October. Mary Miller offered a room for me at her house up on the hill next to the shop so I wouldn't have to drive 75 miles home on Friday night only to have to drive 75 miles back on Saturday to work. She is such a sweet lady! I just found out about the Quilt Bloggers International Retreat the week before it was to take place. Julie invited me to come, but I already had a commitment. Maybe next year! I am from this area so it was refreshing to see all the places I have visited in the past and new ones that have opened.

  23. Can I wangle an invitation for next year??? Looks like SEW MUCH FUN!!! And fabric galore!!!

    Pugs and kisses,

  24. Everything about this is just divine! I so wish that Cindy could have joined you. I have a feeling that your group is going to grow each year. So much fun to see each of you in the photos! And Sandra, FINALLY you didn't have to be on a stick, LOL.

  25. By the sounds of things, you may have exceeded your Customs limit on the way back home. ha ha ha ha Definitely sounds like a great time. And since a relatively short drive for you all, you can do it again sometime.


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