I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Festival of Broken Needles, GMQG Retreat 2015

Whew..Well, it's over..There is still a mountain of paperwork, finances, thank you's, photo editing, a post-mortem meeting to be completed, but the actual physical retreat is over and done with. 
A puzzle table in the sun

I belong to the Greater Moncton Quilt Guild, a guild currently in its' 29th year. Each year a retreat is held and this year we were able to accommodate 40 participants. Last year I was one of two "assistant planners" and this year I was Co-Chair and next year I go back to being a registered participant.
Our block challenge was a spool block and the lucky winner went home with enough blocks for a very large quilt top!

We open the doors to our weekend retreat on Friday at noon and close up shop at noon on Sunday. What happens between these hours is pretty amazing whether you are considering what the collective group manages to produce, or whether you are considering the sheer dynamics of 40 women talking, laughing, joking, eating, and drinking, with a few tears mixed in, some from joy and a few less joyful, but all therapeutic none the less. 

I love to plan and execute events. And I feel establishing a theme helps create a cohesive event and makes it easier for the organizing committee. Last year our theme was "Quilters Love to Strip" and all the projects, games, prizes, decorations focused around strips. This year we based our retreat on the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles, an annual ceremony where Japanese seamstresses honour their broken tools by laying them to rest and giving thanks for their service. With this focus on gratitude, we also wanted to educate and were able to include valuable information on needles, pins and thread as part of the handouts. 
Juanita made herself and Shirley oriental mug rugs for the occasion!
We contacted sponsors, both local and online and were absolutely astounded by the support we received. In addition to the small budget we had from our retreat fees, we raised funds by selling tickets on a basket of quilting goodies. Combining what we raised and what was donated, we were able to provide each of our participants with a wonderful goody bag and a door prize! 

The last two years we have included a banquet on Saturday evening as part of the price of admission. This year after the meal, we also held a small ceremony conducted by our own Geisha who gave us much food for thought with her reading of Emily Dickinson's poem, "Don't Put Up My Needle and Thread". She invited each of us to consider the importance of these simple tools as we placed our broken needles and pins in a bed of tofu, just as they do in Japan. 
Our altar

Our broken needled and pins were laid to rest in a bed of tofu

Afterwards we invited everyone to come and have their photos taken in the photo booth we had set up, complete with costumes and props. To say we laughed is an understatement! What a wonderful group of women! Everyone participated and we have some gems of photos as they shared this fun activity with their quilting friends. 
The planning committee 

Co-Chair Nancy and I hammed it up

You might guess I am weary now. I had a full three weeks with a week long trip to Toronto, a three day seminar here, and then this retreat. Today I stayed in bed a bit longer, wore my fleece pyjamas longer than I stayed in bed and I enjoyed endless cups of coffee while I readjusted to the inside of my house. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chocolate River Comfort Quilt

I belong to two traditional guilds. One of these quilts meets every second week during the day and the meetings are working based. Most members bring their sewing machines while others focus on cutting fabrics, or on hand work. Everyone brings their lunch and there is a short business meeting while we eat. I am discovering I like this format and although I am not keen to drag my machine most days, or perhaps just while it is winter, I organize something simple to work on beforehand and enjoy spending some time catching up with my quilting friends. 

This group has decided to create one quilt each year for charity and this year the finished quilt is to be donated to the local women's shelter in memory of Ree Defina who should have been joining the group this year, but who passed last August.

Two members, both close friends of Ree, organized the making of the top and members pieced the blocks at one of our meetings. The top was sewn together and I volunteered to quilt it. I kept the quilting simple because we all know that many hands make light work and I have learned the best way to enhance multiple sewers is to use a simple quilting design. I used my favourite Glide thread with a 20/80 batt. The colours chosen for the quilt were Ree's favourites and the finished quilt has been donated and is hopefully bringing comfort where needed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Simple Knitting

I am not in the upper echelons of knitters when it comes to executing patterns and textures. However, I find the act of knitting a relatively relaxing pastime and I enjoy making what I consider utilitarian items for my family. I knit socks and have a rotation as to who receives the next pair. They all seem to like wearing what I produce, so I keep at it. Besides, I have a hard time sitting still for long and knitting the same pattern repeatedly keeps me from fidgeting. A recent trip resulted in 1.5 socks..a few hours here and there will finish those up. Then I will cast on the next pair for when I need to keep my hands busy.

This Christmas I wanted to knit a little joke for my daughter. She is a curler and is always telling me how cold she is in the rink. Since I do not have it in me to knit a lovely Mary Maxim seater (remember those? a bulky cardigan with curling motifs?), I knit her a wool hat. And I added some buttons for curling stones...just to be cute. She has my permission to remove the buttons..

She posed for me, we both ended up crying from laughing so hard, and we took a great series of photos of her wearing her hat. This however, if what you get to see...the top of the silly hat. She did wear it once and her curling mates laughed and suggested it could have been worse. There is a pattern circulating that looks just like a curling stone, handle and all. I am sure Simone is grateful that I don't do patterns well!

Since I had lots of wool, I also knit hats for my son and my Dad. I kept them simple and basic, like all my knitting is.