I'm having a very "quilty" fall in 2011 - my first autumn of retirement. I've attended two QCA regional retreats which involved 15-20 women at each, and I had a great time! Then a friend/former co-worker of my husband invited me to a large retreat at Lake Beauty in Long Prairie, MN. We're talking close to 100 women, and I was only going to know one of them, so I was a little nervous going in.
The setting is becoming fairly common - a children's summer camp looking for business to extend their season. For anyone who has not attended a large quilt retreat, I'm posting a description and pictures of the one I attended...
1. (below) The gymnasium was home to most of the quilters. As they come in, they set up tables in the groupings they prefer. There were large groups of up to12 quilting friends, but more common were groupings of two or three friends. Sadly, I saw one woman sitting by herself, but maybe she preferred to work alone. I don't know if they had many singletons attending. If I were considering going to a retreat alone, I would call ahead to ask how common that is and if any effort is made to pair singles up with other singles or with small groupings.
The gymnasium had recently had an electrical upgrade to allow for all the sewing machines and irons to run without tripping circuits. The camp provided tables and basic plastic chairs, but not ironing boards or cutting mats, so each group brought their own. They gymnasium had "soft" walls for protection from injuries and for acoustics, and quilters used those as design walls. These pictures were taken early in the weekend before everyone had arrived, so it doesn't appear as crowded as it gets.
2. There were some "private" locations that long-standing campers knew could be reserved if they called in on the first few days of registration. One was on the balcony of the gym, another in a conference room, and one in far corner of the dining lodge. The group I joined had used that last site for years, and the advantage was great natural lighting and a wonderful view of the sun rising over the lake.
Gymnasium balcony -
Conference room -
Corner of dining room -
Our morning view -
3. I was with a group of very talented quilters, four of whom were professional long-armers. Most of the group drove up from Minneapolis suburbs and included retired nurses and teachers and their friends and family who had been personally invited. Here are some of the projects that came from my group...
Oh, here is that last quilt under construction. Step one involves sewing strips end to end to create one VERY LONG strip, only a small part of which is pictured below.
3. On the last evening, the entire group had a show and tell for those who wished to participate. Quilts were held over the balcony of the dining hall, and the quilter shared its story. Here were some of my favorites...
Where are pictures of the quilts I worked on? Well, I'm happy to report I did finish three quilts I had started earlier - my stack 'n whack (finally!), the leaf block exchange quilt, and MQ 5, but I'll wait until I've quilted them to show them off. I also started a baby quilt, so I felt like it was a productive weekend!
Lodging accomodations at these type of camps involve dormitory style rooms with multiple bunk beds and bathrooms shared by the whole floor. There were five in my sleeping room. The staff "unbunked" some beds so we could all sleep on lower beds. Three meals a day were included served cafeteria style. The food wasn't great, but I never went hungry, and happily I didn't have to think about cooking or washing dishes.
All in all, it was a fun experience, and for the price, I wouldn't hesitate to attend again!