Monday, October 29, 2012

Some Photos of the Mystic 2012 Spooky Retreat

Longtime readers know that I thoroughly enjoy Sue Donnelly's Stitcher's Hideaway Retreats and that I try to attend one every year.  Much to my dismay, I didn't manage to get to one in 2011 but I hope to make up for that by doing both the Alumni Retreat and the Spooky Retreat in February and October of 2013, respectively.  The Alumni Retreat can be rather iffy because of the weather but I'd really like to give it a shot.  Some of the folks that I enjoy reconnecting with will be attending that one and one of my favorite designer's, Nancy of Glory Bee, is a frequent attendee.

This year's Spooky Retreat was splendid.  Sue tried a new format, offering mini-classes and leaving the rest of the time as a free-stitch.  The mini-class I selected, The Lady Washington Sampler, was the last one offered in the schedule, late Saturday afternoon, so I never actually stitched on it at the retreat.  Most of my stitching time was spent on The Woodland Angel, finishing Section 8 and getting a good start on Section 7.  I am working around the design in a clockwise fashion so as to get an outline around which I can cut the fabric.  I am hoping to get all three stockings for my grandchildren from the same piece of linen.  I don't want to discover I am 

just one or two inches short of fabric because I cut the first stocking out with too generous a seam allowance.  I have been doing the back-stitching as I finish each section ... it gives me a sense of my progress by bringing the finished cross-stitching into clear focus.  Section 7 is mostly shadows, snow and dried grass.  In other words, it is mostly confetti stitching and moves slowly because of all the careful counting required if everything is to line up in the end..  I am hoping to make up time while stitching the angel's robes in the later sections since they, at least, have swathes of color and shading.  Still, I am very pleased with the progress I made this past 

 Friday and through most of Saturday ... until my Ott lite bulb blew.  At which point I switched to working on the little freebie kit that is Sue's personal gift to the stitcher's every year.  Each year Sue designs some little something that represents the theme of the retreat and makes a lovely souvenir of the event.

Another beloved feature of Sue's retreats is the on-site shop.  Every year she invites Chris of Chris' Collection to set up a shop in a hotel room close to the stitching room.  I must confess I succumbed and bought two charts: Homespun Elegance's Owls Night Out and Brenda Gervais' On Pins and Pumpkins.  I had seen this last item both as a finished piece in the Halloween exchange on Friday evening and as a WIP at one of the other tables during free-stitch time.  What can I say?  I fell in love with it!  And I couldn't resist this lovely little needle minder.  And of course, there are the stash bags and door prizes but I shall save those for a later post.

But, now, on to the really fun photos of  the people and the Show and Tell projects:

Since it was a Spooky Retreat, the Stitching Witches were out in full force.  There were a great many haute couture witches hats to be seen, some in basic black and some in the wildest brightest colors imaginable.  I regret that I did not get photos of them all but I am sure Sue did and that the photos will soon be on the Fun Report on her website [see above for link].  Here you see Donna [right] and a friend.

This lovely and gentle witch, Marie, sat next to me during the festivities.  She had elected to bring a UFO using a color chart for the free stitch time.  All the trouble she had with same symbols differentiated only by background colors that were barely discernibly different shades of salmon served to confirm my dislike for colored charts.

This is Dawn Fisher, the instructor of all the mini classes, wearing the chatelaine that will be her next teaching project ... a class I definitely want to take.  I took a close-up photo of the chatelaine but apparently it didn't come out.  Dawn has antique sterling silver sewing tools dangling from her chatelaine.  Dawn is a meticulous researcher and I learned a great deal about Martha Washington's life, loves and losses during the class on The Lady Washington Sampler.

This is Deb, Sue's stalwart partner in crime, with an exquisite piece of blackwork that she is stitching called Ancestree.  The branches are all personalized with the names of her matrilineal line, starting with herself at the bottom and rising to her  mother, grandmother, great grandmother.

And here is a close-up shot of Ancestree.  The photograph doesn't do justice to the delicacy of the project in real life.  I neglected to get the information about the class and the instructor on this piece.  I will have to write Deb and get the information.  That is definitely one class I want to take.

Not all the Show and Tell was stitchery.  One lady regaled us with stories of bead-making classes she has been taking.  She uses both her own beads and commercial beads to make lovely necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pendants.  Though I recognized her from previous retreats, I didn't catch her name.  I don't do enough socializing at these retreats.  I tend to get so focused on the stitching that I neglect the equal joy of networking with other stitchers.  I intend to fix that next time.
What little socializing I did netted some fascinating results:  The lady seated at the table to my right heard me describe my high school uniform and immediately queried "Where did you go to school?"  It turned out we went to the same high school, though I graduated 7 years earlier than she did.  Another casually overheard remark about "teaching in Stony Point" yielded the information that Ellen and I teach in the same town: I in the parochial venue and she in the public.  She happens to be a colleague of my very close friend, Liz.  Small world!

In any case, these three photos are of the jewelry made by the very talented lady that I wished I had taken the time to chat with.  I love the pendants with the twisted wire work.  I should have gotten a photo of this lady in her witches hat, a tower of shocking pink tulle rosettes.  I shall have to get better at multi-tasking at these retreats.

This is a shot of jewelry made by that soft spoken witch, Marie, using coral found on a beach during a vacation in the islands.  She said it was unseasonably cool, too cool for swimming but just right for beach combing.
Emily, another lady sitting at the table to my right, knitted all these hats for preemies and cancer patients.  She explained that they have to be knitted in a circle since a seam, however soft the yarn, could tear a one-three pound preemie's sensitive skin.  The hat at the upper left could have fit on my thumb with virtually no wiggle room.  She said that only she and one other lady are willing to make the micro-preemie hats since it is so difficult working with four 4" double pointed needles to stitch such a tiny hat seamlessly.

But cross stitch was well represented as well,  though I am only showing a few of the many show and tell pieces here.  First this Alessandre Adelaide Christmas Bell.  A lovely piece.  I apologize for the glare that mars this photograph.  But I own a simple point and shoot digital and barely have the photographic expertise to take pictures at the simplest level.  I still cut off the tops of heads, have problem with maintaining focus and framing a shoot that doesn't look like it was taken on the slanting deck of a ship in the high seas of a North Atlantic storm.

This needle book and fob were masterworks of stitching and finishing techniques.

And, finally, this Seasons of Mystic, was the piece I missed by not going to last year's retreat.  A beautiful sampler done in exquisite colors.

Lots of funny stitching and non-stitching stories were exchanged at the tables during the day.  One of those stories netted me an adorable little seasonal chart for Columbus Day.  When Peg heard me mention my Italian ancestry, she had to tell the story of how she came to design a Columbus Day ornament.  She had made a series of ornaments to decorate her mother's room at a nursing home: with all the usual themes: Valentine's Day, Easter,  Thanksgiving and Christmas and so on.  After her mother's death, a close friend of the mother also entered a nursing facility.  As a loving gesture, Peg wanted to give the ornaments to her mother's friend.  The friend was pleased but after looking at the ornaments, she asked "Where's Columbus Day?"  When Peg explained that there hadn't been a Columbus Day in the original series, her mother's friend replied, in typical senior citizen fashion, "I don't care!  I'm Italian and I want a Columbus Day ornament!"  So what could Peg do but design one.  I must say she did a very fine job and I will be stitching it up soon.  I promise to post a photo as soon as possible.

There will be another post about the swag bag and the door prizes which truly deserve a stand alone post.  In that post I will be noting a few of the generous gifts that don't quite fit my stitching style and I will offer them as giveaways.


Nancy*Glory Bee said...

I am so glad you had a good time at the retreat! I am looking forward to the alumni retreat. We had snow several times but we watch the weather and leave a little earlier or later to get there with no issues. It's all worth it once you sit down and get to stitch for 2 solid days!
How did you like the idea of the mini-classes? Nancy

Kay said...

This looks like such fun, I have never heard of anyone doing something similar to this in England but it would be great to attend a retreat.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

You seem to have had a fantastic time, love all the photos, esp the witch hats!

I agree with Kay! I've been on one retreat but it was only for 8 ladies in a converted barn and no-one famous was there! Still loved the week though. I also did a 2 day class thing in London one time which was also great.

I love the jewellery you've shown us.
The prem baby hats are so tiny, I saw a 1lb 5oz baby once, they're long and thin because they mostly put on fat during the last weeks. He thrived as did his twin (the big one at 1lb 11oz).