Jun 25, 2007

Laughter, Learning & Lack of Sleep

With classic rock on the radio, sunroof open, and wind blowing my hair I was on my way to Indianapolis, IN for my first ever stitching retreat! The 5½ hour drive was smooth sailing and very relaxing. I arrived at the hotel without incident, and got lucky in finding a parking spot near the side entrance.

Much to my surprise, I needed a cart to unload all the stuff I'd brought along! The cart was packed with my duffel of clothes, camera bag, giveaway stash, two stash project bags, and scroll rods with JG on it. I also took along my empty froggie tote bag that Wanda sent to me (love that bag!)... Just in case I needed it.

On the way to my room, I noticed a room with what looked like stitchers. I stopped and introduced myself. Our "stitching room" as we fondly referred to it, was a suite on the same floor as our rooms. It was the first thing seen as one came off the elevator.

Prior to arriving at the retreat, I hadn't met any of the stitchers. I was a bit nervous about that, but the anxiety went right out the window when I stepped in the the stitching room and was met with warm welcomes. With each new person I met, I was welcomed with open arms. Couldn't have asked for a better group of stitchers to hang out with for the retreat! We had stitchers from AR, IL, IN, NV, and WI.

Several people brought tons of giveaway stash. The 8-foot table was piled with leaflets, magazines, fabric, fibers, and books. One stitcher brought 6 tubs of stash! Let me say that there was a LOT of fondling going on!!!

On Thursday, we all piled into two vans (Thanks Michelle and Julie for driving us!) and headed to Zionsville, which was an adorable town with cobblestone streets. Pics can be seen HERE. Several of us had lunch at Zorba's Greek Restaurant. Afterwards, we all raced to the first needlework shop called Persnickety Stitchers.

The shop owner was very nice, and even gave us each a gift bag of goodies.

I picked up:

• Stitching Is A Blessing - by Imaginating
• Keep A Gentle Heart - by Plum Pudding Needleart
• Pink Carnations - by Sweetheart Tree

Once everyone stashed the place out, we jumped into the vans and were on our way to the next shop, Needle Fever in Indianapolis. Out of all the shops, this one was my favorite. I liked the way it was laid out and the clerks seemed very helpful. We all were given a small gift for visiting the store. I'm sure you can guess that I bought stash at this store, too.

At Needle Fever, I bought:

• Gather a Harvest & My Favorite Time - by Lizzie Kate
• The Sampling - by Bent Creek
• Dream, Wish, & Believe - by Calico Crossroads

• Warm Winter Wishes - by Waxing Moon Designs
• Always Remember - by My Big Toe
• all the GAST fibers and fabric for Always Remember

Finally, we were on our way to Hobby Lobby where I walked away with lots of stash at good prices. Gotta love the clearance aisle!!! [HL Stash Pics: 1, 2, 3] I'm kinda kicking myself for not getting one of those Lorri Birmingham baskets.

By the time we were done at HL, it was dinner time and all that shopping had us famished! We had a fabulous supper at Joe's Crab Shack.

Once back at the hotel, we had a show-n-tell for the stash that was bought. It was fun seeing what everyone bought. Who knew Annette had a "thing" for needlerolls?? LOL If you haven't figured it out... We *DID* spend the entire day stashing!!!

On Saturday, four of us went to a third needlework shop called Timeless Needlework located in Indianapolis. We met the owner, Holley, who was most helpful and friendly! I needed to get multiples of fibers for a chart I'd bought on Friday and the ones she had weren't of the same dye lot, so she offered to order them for me. When I inquired about shipping costs, she said she'd send them for FREE! She even showed me how a stitch fixer works. :) Even though her shop is small, and there isn't a lot... She will order stuff for you and will give you whatever help you need. That counts for something!

Even though my threads had to be ordered, I didn't leave the shop empty-handed! I picked up:

• Friendly Stitchers - by Brittercup Designs
• Miss Kitty's Dragons - by Just Nan
Later in the afternoon, we had two special visitors come to our retreat. Lori from Enchanted Fabrics was in the area on vacation, so she stopped by and stitched with us for a while. Not only that, she brought each of us a piece of her beautiful hand-dyed fabric!

A little while later, Karen Kluba from Rosewood Manor stopped by to give us our very own trunk show. This was an extra special treat because Katie does model stitching Rosewood Manor, and Karen brought a finished piece that Katie stitched and is featured on the cover of the leaflet! Katie was sooooo excited to meet Karen. It was great seeing her smiling from ear-to-ear!

Saturday night, I went to my car to make sure it started... If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know about the problems I've had. The car seems to be OK as long as it runs at least once a day. After making sure it started, something caught my eye on the back of my car. Upon closer inspection, I came to the realization that my car was involved in a hit-n-run accident!!

Almost on the verge of tears, I went to the front desk to inquire the procedure for things like this. The clerk had no idea, but offered to call the police. Upon arrival, the officer had a bit of an "attitude" telling me that HE'D be the one to determine whether or not it was a hit-n-run. After inspecting the car, he turned to me and asked, "Well, what do you want me to do?" Ummm.... How about your job, dude? (Of course, I didn't say that) I had him file a police report, in case the insurance company needed one. Then I called my insurance company. I have to say that all the girls at the retreat were very supportive toward me, making sure I was OK and giving me hugs. My thanks to them for that... It really helped me from getting overly freaked out over the situation.

Since it was the group's 3rd birthday, a pizza party complete with cake was served for dinner that night. I can't remember the last time I saw so much pizza!!

After dinner, Karin showed us the techniques to complete our pinkeeps and biscornus. We used a variation of Renee's no-sew pinkeep instructions. My projects can be seen HERE.

By 11pm, I was beat and knew I had a long drive home... I asked Karin if I could have the hardanger project that was kitted up for us, so I could do it at home. My thanks to Karin for teaching the classes. I enjoyed them, and everyone's projects turned out great. :)

Vickie did the most frogging during the retreat, so Kim presented her with a froggie prize.

Throughout the weekend, we were "treated" to goodies donated by over 50 designers. Here is what I received: 1, 2, 3. It was awesome how generous the designers were!

As if that weren't enough, Colleen brought stashy gifts for everyone. Gift wrapped and everything. We all were like kids at Christmas time. I received September Garden kit by Elizabeth Designs, 32 skeins of DMC floss, and a piece of Lakeside Linen in Fawn color. Thank you, Colleen. It was really thoughtful of you!

I was up early on Sunday (very tired, though) and said my goodbyes before starting the trip home. I was so tired that I HAD to stop every so often so I could get out and walk around in order to 'wake up'.

At one rest stop, there was a beautiful memorial park behind it, complete with lake, fountains, and geese.

Being the photographer that I am, I couldn't pass up the photo opportunities. I walked the perimeter of the lake snapping shot after shot. Pics can be seen HERE.

About 45 minutes from home, I had a brilliant idea! Zzzzzt!! Can you hear the lightbulb going off in my head? I decided to turn my baby dragon piece (stitched in the 90's) into a pinkeep. So I stopped at Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics for a bit of shopping. I found a great piece of green fabric for the back!

Needless to say, I didn't make it home in 5½ hours since I made a few more stops. 681.5 miles later, I greeted my doggie... who was very happy to see me. I took everything from the car to the living room where it's still sitting.

As Debra put it: It's like a big slumber party for stitchers. The love of stitching brought together 12 wonderful women who spent 4 days and 3 nights of stitching, stashing, eating, laughing, and staying up late. I enjoyed meeting each and every one of them! For my first retreat experience, I don't think I could've had a better time. I had sooooo much fun! More photos HERE.

A big THANK YOU to Betty, Karin & Kim who organized this year's retreat. You did a great job!


Katie said...

Meari I was so glad to meet you at the retreat. Also very glad I could help give you a hug when your car was hit. Thanks for sharing about Karen and me. I was very excited indeed to meet my "boss". It felt weird seeing the piece and knowing I did it. I hope we get to spend time together again in the future cause it was great.

Rene la Frog said...

Except for the car sounds like a wonderful time. Love all the pictures.

Barbara said...

The retreat sounds absolutely awesome. Sounds like you had such a great time (except for the car incident). I am soooooo jealous. :-)
Barb in TX

Tessa said...

What a shame your car got 'bumped' - I have a big car and it happens to me all the time :(
What a wonderful, wonderful weekend - I am so jealous ;) Great shopping, great eating, great company, what more could a girl want?

Kendra said...

Other than the deal with your car, that sounds like a *wonderful* weekend! I would love to do something like that someday!

Cheryl said...

Sounds like you had a good time! Sorry to hear about your car

Sharon said...

What a fabulous time you had Meari! Great stuff that you bought and received. Too bad about your car-I don't know why people do these things.

Kathy said...

What a stash high!! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I am pea green with envy. LOL And all that new stash........... Oh boy!

Thanks for all the photos. I've been to Indy a number of times. I sure wish I had known about those shops. :)


rose_michelle said...

Welcome home. Sounds like you had tons of fun! I've been to tons of quilt retreats with my mom (organizer) but never stitching. I usually bring my stitching along and sit in the corner (I don't have to spread out as much). But I always got tons of ooohhs and aaahhs from my work. I haven't been on a retreat since college and now that we are living the military life, it's hard to find other stitchers. I was sorry to hear about your car, but you were lucky at how fast it was taken care of. I'll drop by later ...

Jenna said...

Oh wow, Meari. It sounds and looks like you had a wonderful time! I'm so glad that you were able to enjoy yourself, even with the bizarre event of your car being hit in the parking lot. Did someone look after Celeste for you while you were gone?

Greg said...

Absolutely a fantastic retreat! WOW! Can I go next year? lol

Mylene said...

Sorry to hear about the car.
Your weekend retreat sounds great. Thanks for sharing.

~Kim~ said...

Im so glad that you joined us for the retreat! Im glad that you enjoyed yourself, and that everyone made you feel comfortable. Im so sorry about your car, still wished I could have been there to choke that cop, and the person who hit you.

I had my sister show the pic of you with Natalie, and Natalie said, "there is my friend Meari." :)

Hope to see you again in the future!

glenda said...

Glad it was so much fun for you, Meari. After all you have accomplished lately you deserved to have some stitchy fun!

stitcherw said...

I'm glad you had such a wonderful time (and got such great stash). Retreats like that are the best. I've been going to one hosted by Stitches n Things every year for a number of years and love it, it is one of the highlights of my whole year.