What does it mean to slow down and Make in a thoughtful manner....?

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a quilter's color weekend

It is a week now since we left the mountain. For we were on the top of a mountain during our retreat. Perhaps that is why it felt so otherworldly, because we had our own aerie for making. I have been turning this experience over and over in my head, and have felt inhibited by the language that keeps popping up. Magical. Unique. Inspiring. Transformative.  The problem is that all these words apply to the weekend, and yet I stumble over them. 

Sometimes you just gotta be there, you know what I mean?  But that's no fun for a blog post.  Luckily the photographer in me took over for large parts of the weekend, so I've got a crap-load of pictures to share with you. What I'm getting at is that the weekend was a blast, a success, a very special oasis.   It was soul-filling, psyche-stretching, and heart-thrumming goodness wrapped up into a big ole colorful ball. 

While I have friends (bless their sweet souls) who had no doubt that the weekend would work, when you work as hard at getting something off the ground as I did with this retreat, you can lose perspective. Which made the organic flow with which the whole thing unfolded that much more delicious. We had a remarkable group of quilters, some experienced, some less so, who all connected, and bonded, over their color stories pretty much straight out of the gate. 

Amy and Heather, who are close friends but have never taught together before, worked seamlessly as guides for everyone's inspiration. Their individual, yet completely complementary, teaching styles meshed into a grand scope of color, pattern, technique and expression. Watching (as I was privileged to do) the group blossom into their color stories on the first day was intimate and intense. Seeing them then translate those visions into fabric blocks on the second day was a progression that made my heart smile. I love to put a bunch of creative people in a room, take care of their pragmatic needs, and see what happens. If I have a calling in life, this is it. This weekend was not at all about me, and yet I could see my fingerprints all over it. To feel the buzzing energy in the classroom, to watch the friendships emerge, to see the concentration on the faces, followed by the moments of pure joy in discovery?  All of this was a balm to my soul.

Our digs at Point Lookout were pretty dreamy. Rustic, yet well appointed cabins, with incredibly comfortable beds. We made a visit to the onsite farm and met the resident farmer. Yes, you heard me right, they have their own farm. Most of our meals took place in our own private dining room that looked out over the ocean. Our classroom had two walls of windows and lots of room to spread out and get messy. On Friday night we had a sublime dinner at Salt Water Farm, just down the road. On Saturday morning we engaged in some retail therapy at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply hosted by the delightful Abby Gilchrist, who was a great help all weekend with last minute errands and some crucial tools. [I have no photos from that visit, I was engrossed in her garment fabric selection]  When we all had to leave on Sunday morning it was painful, but everyone took with them great memories, new friends and some really cool blocks. Plus a whole lot of color inspiration to last them for some time...!

To be serious for a moment, I know that the retreat format is not for everyone, either for stylistic or logistical reasons. But I firmly believe in the need for creative expression to have a playground every now and then. Finding time for ourselves, not just to stoke the maker fires, but also to connect with your tribe, is challenging, but oh so rewarding. Whenever possible, it should be a priority to take a step back from the daily routine, the cell phone bonging at you, the dog asking to be walking, dinner needing to be made, bills waiting to be paid. Take a deep breath and check in with your heart. Is it getting what it needs? Is it maybe time to feed it something tasty and nourishing....? We ignore that small voice at our own peril. I found this weekend a great inspiration not just to sew and quilt, but to connect with other makers. I am energized to make more of these events, these retreats, in different forms, to help all of you make those connections and find that nurturing energy. Making in the modern world is the perfect, and to my mind mind most necessary, antidote to our consuming life of re-arranging data. I hope you will come join me in the future for one, or more, of these adventures. The next one I have planned is next month, just two short weeks from now, with Carolyn Friedlander and Chawne Kimber. I am calling it our Slow Stitching Retreat and you can read all about it here. There is still room, and I would love to see you there!

I also want to share an observation about my response to this weekend.  Upon returning from the retreat some things occurred to me that don't in my daily life. For instance, I realized I want a new pair of eyeglasses. It's something I've had bouncing around the back of my psyche for a while, but the thought is usually crowded out by the daily minutia of running my own biz.  I looked at the Warby Parker website and found some cool frames. Wish I could say I ordered them, but can't find my prescription at the moment so, the idea is fading. {maybe writing this will put me back on track} The point is, being out of my regular element gave me the bandwidth to think about the niceties of life for a moment.  What a sweet gift that was....  I have also been stubbornly happy with my iPhone 4 from two years ago. Watching Amy using her 6plus as a design tool, with it's impressive camera, was a revelation. Those things are not just a time-sucking diversion, but a useful tool in the creative process, if used properly.  It made me realize that this is a technology upgrade I shouldn't fight. Considering how much time I spend on Instagram, and how important visual imagery is to my life, it would be a smart thing to get me one of those bigger phones with a better camera.  Duh!  The kind of insight you can only come to when your mind is clear enough to actually see what's right in front of you....

This weekend was so good that Amy Heather and I are already talking about doing it again.  I want to do some fine-tuning on details, but the basic concept was so good we'd like to try to reproduce it.  So if you like where this is going, you might want to sign up for my mailing list on the home page!

I am going to leave you with the image of the group the last morning. I posted this picture on Facebook with the caption, 'This is what happiness looks like.....'  And it is still true.  Look at those faces, we were all really really happy in that moment....

I love Sailors

Slow Stitching