Tag Archives: friends

The Creative Retreat :: A Wrap Up

I’ve sat down more than ten times now to draft a post about The Creative Retreats – the very first ones held this past couple of weeks and I’ve been so overcome with the responses and the experiences that I’ve not had the words, they just won’t come. So I asked an attendee,the gorgeous and uber talented Jessica Wheelahan, to help me out. Here, she describes the Retreat as she experienced it:

The Creative Retreat promised a three day getaway where our time would be devoted to our own creative pursuits, we’d have nothing to do but relax and explore and build on our creativity.

What was delivered went far and away above and beyond. I wanted for nothing. I literally felt buoyed up, cushioned and supported by a marshmallow cloud of care.  My three days away were nothing short of bliss.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 7.48.10 am

Arriving, I found an idyllic country setting.  It was chilly but the sky was high and blue and the sun beamed down.  The beautiful Southern Highlands – Rolling hills, picture perfect cows and horses, bird calls and a flash of a darting parrot here and there.

On entering the retreat guesthouse I found a buzzing hive of activity, everyone hushed and concentrating.  I was late and an activity had been set.  The central room was warmed by a roaring fire, fellow retreat goers had machines set up and stashes were spilling out of cases in a spacious layout of tables in the centre of the bright room.  Around the perimeter of the hall were the bedrooms, design walls already set up like blank canvases begging for that first mark to be made… this was going to be perfect.  DSC_0191

We’d arrived with supplies and the beginning of an idea.  These were discussed as a group and we were helped with deciding on a project.  Individual ideas ranged from experiences of travel to something skill based, an inspiring photo, or artist to the deeply emotional and visceral.

Mine was an idea which had been percolating for a while.  One which had already been a ‘false start’ so I knew that I would need a long stretch of uninterrupted sewing time to develop my idea.  I tend to ‘snatch’ sewing time at home – 10 mins here and there as a low order priority around the other tasks that a busy working mother must see to.  That’s why The Creative Retreat and its promise of three days of stitching appealed to me.

A found vintage block had inspired a vision.  A bright quilt in solids alone with improv crosses and arrows following my style – a ‘Go your own way’ quilt (Fleetwood mac were playing!) I had also packed my stash of vintage fabrics, a riot of colour and pattern.  I thought if my primary idea didn’t work out I might find some encouragement to cut where I previously had not been able to!

DSC_0242

It didn’t matter what our individual goals were, Cheryl was skilled enough to guide us on the path.  She was gentle, she listened and allowed us the space to develop our own ideas into something special.  These were our quilts and regardless of skill or experience Cheryl supported us and we were encouraged to achieve.

It is at this point that I need to describe the way that The Creative Retreat in Jules and her team ‘had our backs’.  Ample provisions of the very best from T2 tea and fresh roasted coffee with homemade treats ranging from Afghan biscuits to syrupy gluten free cakes and fruit always on offer, perfection right down to the final detail.  Meals were generous and designed to suit every taste.  Each meticulously planned and prepared by Jules, they were nourishing and flavoursome.

DSC_0209

Nothing was too much trouble.  At one point in my design process I was creating blocks to flow on from the ones I already had on my design wall… behind me… I pondered out loud that it would be much better if I was looking straight ahead at my blocks and as though I had waved a magic wand with the instruction ‘make it so’ a new design wall materialised in front of my eyes!  -Thankyou Cheryl!

As the time wore on and we became comfortable in our little community the sew–along turned into a sing–along and contentedly we stitched the days away, sharing, laughing, bonding.

DSC_0250

Each morning I woke at around 9am having sat up late sewing,chatting and laughing.  What a guilty pleasure – not setting an alarm.  I found my ‘Batteries’ were recharging and my mind was relaxing as my creative spark was coming to fruition and that sense of frustration with not having enough hours in the day to achieve all my creative goals was replaced with a deep sense of satisfaction of having achieved what I had set out to do.  For a creative person held back by the pressures of life this feeling is like nothing else in the world!

DSC_0312

By The last few hours of the retreat on Monday my quilt top was taking shape.  I wasn’t alone, looking around the room there were projects nearing completion on every available design wall.  We were proud of our efforts and so were Cheryl and Jules, sincerely so.

The Creative Retreat is a new venture for Jules McMahon and in my mind it hits the spot, bullseye, bingo, Eureka, Cowabunga!  I can’t recommend it highly enough and hope to be involved next time Jules and her carnival of creative energy and encouragement roll my way.  A big smoochy thankyou to Jules, her team and Cheryl Arkison the superstar.

Learning to crochet, time to start again! 

  Today Timehop reminded me of a delightful morning spent learning to crochet with a kind and beautiful friend. She had the ability to teach in a way that never felt like you were working hard to learn something but more that you were just having a chat and all of a sudden, tah dah! 

In our usual way, we had pots of tea and a pear/raspberry/coconut loaf I used to make for her as it was her favourite. 

She’s been gone than two years and I still miss her every single day. 

I haven’t picked up this project since she died or made that loaf cake, today feels like a good day to bake and hook. 

I’ll have to find some tutorials to remember how… Somehow these circles need to become squares for joining… Any recommendations for a good online crochet tute? 

So QuiltCon! I’m on my way, are you?

QuiltCon Because booking flights and accommodation wasn’t enough to convince me I was going, I need to pop a little button in this space to make it for reals!

And because registration is JUST TWO DAYS AWAY!!! I thought it was as good a time as any to remind myself of why it is I want to go again.

The people I met :: It’s the number one reason I’ll do this trip, meeting these incredible people who share this crazy quilty passion is worth every cent of the airfare.

Lauren Sew Modern Online and Me

Lauren and me with our crazy eyes

Leanne and the LAMQG gals Lauren, Jennifer and Em were by far the “best country music dancers” on the floor that Saturday night (at least the beer had us believing so). Then there was Jenn and Lauren who I had been playing in words with friends for such a long time, it was great to use real words and hear real voices – even if mine was shouting “squirrel” in Starbucks…

IMG_3534

Anna Maria Horner and me in her “Composing a Quilt” class – total girl crush moment!

Classes with AWESOME tutors :: Even with the anticipated frenzy and the possibility of missing out on classes, I would go again (and again, and again). The classes I took were super fun and the lectures are inspiring, stimulating and thought provoking.

More people :: Class mates Lisa, AmandaCharlotte, Marianne, Ellen and all the others who contributed thoughts, ideas and fun to the time we spent learning from tutors who shared their knowledge.

IMG_3517

Malka working her magic

Food (with people) :: Beer and Barbecue with Carolyn, Cheryl and her champion of a husband, he was such a trooper all weekend!

IMG_3513

For the life of me I can’t remember the name of this place – all I know is it was THE BEST BARBECUE!!!

Volunteering :: This was by far the most rewarding aspect. I had the opportunity to assist in the hanging of the quilt show, work the MQG information stand in the show, assist on the registration desk and be a workshop assistant. So many good things came from volunteering, I would highly recommend it to anyone!

Food (without people) :: eating in a new country, city, suburb is my favourite way to discover a a place. I ate my breakfasts on my own in a different joint each day as a calm way of starting the day. Breakfast tacos in Austin? To. Die. For.

And have I mentioned people :: I can’t forget 80’s night dress up queens Felicity and Jaclyn. And bloggy and twitter and instagram mates who were just so lovely in person: EmHolly, Kim, Jen, Marci, Heather, GinaHeather, JacquieColleen, Amy, Catherine, Latifah, SusanneErin, Rossie and so, so many more.

So, back to the question that started this post. I’m going. Are you?