slow stitching on the porch

Slow Stitching Retreat: A Day of Bliss

Imagine you’re sitting in a rocking chair on a sunny porch, sunbeams playing at your feet, a cool breeze blowing your hair, fabric in your hands, slowly stitching your way through the day alongside new quilting friends all doing the same, seeing your handwork grow at your fingertips. Bliss, right? Now add amazing quilters Carolyn Friedlander, Chawne Kimber, and Samantha Lindgren as teachers, mentors, and fellow slow stitching friends and there you have the Slow Stitching Retreat at Medomak Retreat Center in Washington, Maine. Last week, I was so blessed to be able to join the retreat for a day, with baby Finn in tow.

medomak retreat center maineThe retreat was the brainchild of Sam from A Gathering of Stitches, and was just as blissfully amazing as the name Slow Stitching Retreat suggests. I attended on Thursday, and joined the group learning the Park needle turn applique quilt block from Carolyn Friedlander. Those of you who know me know that Carolyn is one of my all time favorite fabric and quilt designers. I love her architectural influence, highly textured fabric designs, and simple geometric pattern style. It was all I could do not to jump up and down and squeal like a little fangirl when I first met her at QuiltCon. To spend the day learning from her and relaxing with a room full of equally enthusiastic and experienced sewists was such a rejuvenating and inspiring way to spend a day. It certainly helped that Carolyn is super easy going and we all had a great time chatting and stitching the day away.

Park in progress
Getting started: basting my Park block
carolyn friedlander slow stitching retreat
Carolyn walked around helping and answering questions as we dove into needle-turn applique, some for the first time.

slow stitching on the porchAfter we all had basted our Park patterns, we headed out to the sunny porch to slowly stitch in bliss. It was a truly fabulous experience, and one I think everyone should enjoy!

finn stitching helperFinn was there with me, of course, and he was absolutely perfect. Honestly, he happily rocked and watched all of us sew, joined in on conversations with his smily baby babble, and was happy all day long. I think he will be a slow stitcher when he’s a bit older, too!

sam a gathering of stitches
Sam joined us for some slow stitching on the sunny porch. Such a gorgeous day!
carolyn friedlander slow stitching maine
Carolyn Friedlander doing some slow stitching of her own.

Since I was only able to attend for a day, I wasn’t able to take Chawne Kimber‘s class on tiny stitching. I did sneak over to their workspace to gawk at her amazing creations and talk a bit about her sewing process, though.

barn slow stitching

chawne kimber cauchy complete tiny stitchingtiny stitching chawne kimberchawne kimber cauchy complete tiny stitchingThese teeny, tiny bits stitch together into such gorgeous, substantial quilt blocks, it blew my mind. Chawne had a thick stack of many different quilt block samples, all tinier than the tiniest block I’ve ever sewn and all absolutely stunning. They begged to be touched, and then once I touched them, there was no denying: I had to sew a teeny tiny block, even if it was soooo slow that it took me a year to complete. Chawne was also so easy to talk to, and such an inspiration. I wish I could have stayed all weekend and chatted away for hours.

meeting chawne kimber
A blurry picture, but meeting Chawne is worth documenting even if it’s blurred!

After returning home, I finished stitching the outside edge of my needle-turn appliqued Park block, and I spent two #sewtake20 sewing breaks to get started on a Chawne-inspired tiny quilt block. I’m stretching far out of my comfort zone by going wonky AND tiny!

tiny stitching inspired by chawne kimberHere’s my 40-minute, not quite 4″ square quilt block start. I am loving it, and being able to use the scraps of fabric from my “too small to save” bin feels good.

This day spent slowly stitching flew by, but solidified my feeling that quilting retreats should be a part of every sewist’s life. I am very much looking forward to being able to attend a full retreat in a couple of years when my mama milk bar is not in full use, and I plan to start saving pennies now. I’m so grateful that Sam is bringing quilt retreats to Maine with A Gathering of Stitches, and I look forward to seeing what rejuvenating, peacefully refreshing quilt retreats she organizes in the future. Thank you to Sam, Carolyn, Chawne, and all of the other retreat attendees for the lovely day and burst of inspiration.

I’m linking up my tiny quilt block beginning with Design Wall, since all quilt blocks matter, no matter how small.

 

14 thoughts on “Slow Stitching Retreat: A Day of Bliss”

  1. Yes. It does sound lovely. And there was some instruction and help which helps. Maine isn’t too far from where I live and would be driveable (10 hrs.) so I hope I can attend one in the future.
    Finn is adorable.

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  2. Kitty it was such a pleasure to have your sweet self at the Slow Stitching retreat! I look forward to many more opportunities to sit and stitch with you… And Finn is always welcome!

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  3. I wanted to comment on this earlier in the week when you posted… and all I have to say is “drool”. And it looks like your escort was quite the content little guy… something that he will find to his benefit later on in life. This would have worked with my youngest, but never in a million years with my oldest!

    … and do I ever I admire anyone who can not only save scraps this tiny, but make something wonderful from them!

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  4. Oh this is something I would like to do – about 10 hours from home (without counting the hour back when crossing the border) so it is quite doable. I read an article about slowing down with our quilting and not focusing on making lots of “fast projects.” Reading this post is making my blood pressure drop!!!

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  5. I almost didn’t click on this post, because I knew I would be so jealous when I read it. Not cool, JTZ, not cool. What a wonderful experience for you… it’s looks idyllic and rejuvenating all in one. One of these days I’m coming down to a retreat in Maine. Mark my words!

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