Tag Archives: quilt

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.

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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!


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.


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.


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!


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.

#thisweekiam :: 48/52 :: finishing quilts & a recipe for a delicious dinner


Quilting :: all the quilts. A commission quilt. A QuiltCon entry. A next years new class quilt. A charity quilt… all. the. quilts

Quilting Quilt blocks to heal violence

Listening :: to the early morning calls of magpies and kookaburras.

Morning Time

Anticipating :: my trip to Melbourne this weekend to teach at Amitie – I’ve wanted to visit the store for so long and can’t wait to get there!

Harvesting :: the fruits of the biggest child’s labours

Harvest Greens

Eating :: Fresh salads, mangoes!!! and stone fruits. A few people on Instagram asked for the recipe for tonights dinner – salmon and super slaw (making guide after photo):

Salmon Super SlawRecipe Procrasticraft

Sprinkle the salmon fillet with some salt and pepper and bake in a 200C oven around eight minutes (120gms per piece) or cook on the BBQ. Honestly, this piece is a little overcooked, I prefer it slightly on the rare side but just cook it to your liking.

While the fish bakes, in a large mixing bowl, mix up half cup of kewpie mayonnaise, juice of a lime, salt, pepper and a clove of crushed garlic. Add
– a quarter white cabbage, finely sliced
– Lebanese cucumber cut into cubes (you can peel it if you are so inclined, I rarely am)
– half cup freshly shelled peas or frozen peas (if using frozen, lightly blanch them to defrost)
– one apple (granny smith or pink lady), matchstick sliced (it really is worth the effort to make it super fine, if it’s chunky, it just doesn’t work).
– one avocado, cubed
– half cup walnut pieces (can use almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, anything you like)
– you can add some fresh parsley leaves or other herbs, I just plain forgot tonight but parsley and mint is really yummy here.

Mix the salad very gently to scoop up all that dressing and coat all the bits but don’t be rough as the avocado will mush.

Serve. Eat. Feel virtuous for having a simple and delicious meal. Then sit and drink a full glass of Bailey’s on ice to counteract the smugness. You’re welcome!


#improvlogcabins :: today’s class



I’ve had such an incredible day today teaching my improv log cabin class. Tonight I am feeling so energised. And so very humbled.

I am grateful (beyond my ability to articulate) to be doing this job – to go into a workshop where a group of people allow me to guide them through a day of making. They put their faith in me and my process. And they like it. They love it. Awesome huh? And I know they love it because they say so. I get some lovely, genuinely lovely, feedback – private emails and public posts where a participant makes a comment about my teaching style that makes me cry crazy happy tears (and the Mr looks at me like I have two heads).

Patrise Cecilia Cornelia Leonie

Generally, I don’t teach from a pattern or from notes. I’m an improv girl through and through. Don’t get me wrong, I will spend an incomprehensible number of hours writing a class, prepping samples, planning out the day’s schedule and timings – before you get to a class with me, I’m familiar with my process and the plan beyond doubt. But you know, there’s only so far planning can take you.


I do all this prep so that when you come to a class with me, we can wing it together. If we are collaborating on your quilt and you want to follow a path, I’ll walk beside you and we will both go on a journey we weren’t necessarily expecting but one I’m more than ready for, a journey where I’ve made the bookings, packed for all contingencies but am ready and willing for adventure! (just how I travel in real life too – I pack and plan but open myself to possibility).


Today (and every time I teach) I had an expectation of where we might go and as usual, we ended up with ten very different pieces of work. And this is my one of my favourite parts of my process – that you all have very different quilts from the same class, your ideas, mixed with mine equals an output greater than either of us expected on our own, we are creating together.

Thank you! Thank you for trusting me and for allowing me to participate in your making journey

Julie H


Tracy, I’m sorry, I somehow missed getting a pic of your work, please email me one if you get a chance. Jules xx