Quilter Bloggers' International Retreat
This past weekend I was honored to host the first QBIR in my studio. We all snickered to say it was international, but we had indeed included Canada. From my perspective, it was a smooth, successful weekend. Visit the blogs of the attendees (links at the end) to get their own take, but I thought I would give you my insight as to what it took to orchestrate the event. My hope is by sharing this that more people will consider it an option for themselves.
Why host a small event when there are so many large quilting events and retreats already?
- Cost: Small events are more cost effective overall. Working with your geographical area means less money (and time) spent on travel.
- We are bloggers in addition to being quilters: Bloggers want to talk about blogging with each other. That was evident! Quilt events draw quilters, but not necessarily quilter bloggers.
- Building community locally: Locally here meant the Midwest US, and southern tip of Canada. Issues that we face individually often impact others in our area. Sourcing of materials, shipping, advertising, markets, etc.
- Scale: A smaller group spends less time organizing and moving from place to place. We split into 2 cars, and found parking when it would have been difficult with more. Getting or changing a meal reservation for 10-15 is easy compared to a larger number. Fewer people mean even an introvert feels less burnout. I think the number of introverts involved in quilting is far higher than what you expect to find in the average population.
- Bonding: I would have laughed if someone had said this past weekend was going to be about bonding. Looking back, I get a little choked up thinking how much I felt we did.
Sign Me Up
Never having done this before, I invited several close quilting blogger friends, and a handful of other bloggers living in nearby states. I also solicited ideas from those people. This was not a firm idea until 5 weeks ago, so the lead time was too short for many. Others dropped out for emergency situations, and both sides were disappointed about it. They were missed.
Glamorous Venue: A Garage
On the cheap, we cleaned up the large garage I use as my studio. This is shared space with my husband, and not what you might imagine from "Where Women Create", but I feel so lucky to have it after my dark basement sewing space. We used the lower level for conversation, food, and swag bags that each of us contributed to.
Early in the a.m., I gave one last check upstairs where I sew. Later, the space held 8 of us to sew.
Left to right: Terry, Rebecca, and Dave
We had planned to do some fabric dyeing, but monoprinting won over. This was time to just play and experiment.
We met at a family owned Mexican restaurant for dinner, then everyone went back to the hotel to turn in.
Friday Bright and Early:
We Had a Schedule
- 8 A.M. we were off to Somewhere Sewing in Millersburg.
- 10:30 Stopped at Zinck's in Berlin.
- 11:15 in line at Boyd & Wurthman to get a table.
- Back to Zinck's to finish up.
Left to right: Tish and Beth
Left to right: Me, Julie, and Sandra
- 1:30 at Miller's Dry Goods in Charm. Charm Days event was in full swing, and it was busy with 20% off the whole store. Woohoo!
Left to right: Dave, Tish, Sandra, Jennifer at Fence Row Antiques
Beth waiting on us
The loveliest quilt barn I have ever seen!
- 3:30 at Fence Row Antiques and Christmas Tree Farm in New Bedford
- Back home to freshen up
- Raven's Glenn Winery for a lovely dinner, and where Dave figured out how to get us all wine glasses.
Saturday to Rest and Sew
Personal and Group Sewing Projects
At least one project made it off the design wall!
Saturday morning was a slower start with people coming in as they had packed up from their hotel rooms. Our time was limited, and the sewing furious. In between spurts of sewing, a question would come up about blogging, and we'd all stop to chime in. Then back to sewing.
Beth created the most wonderful bags for us!
We did our beautiful swag bag swap with each of us adding something we thought the others would enjoy. I added my felted pincushions above with a spool of Perle Cotton and pack of needles. (And, yes, I was still sewing them on Saturday morning!)
Lunch was my treat with homemade chili and bread fresh from the oven. There was so much food that everyone had brought to share, and we ate well. By that time we were ready to sit down for a rest, and the discussion we were all looking forward to finally happened. It encompassed so many issues we all were facing, and was one of the high points for me. Unless you have another good friend who blogs, it can be very difficult to figure some things out. This time there was a whole group of experts, and we made good use of everyone's experience.
Dave the Quilt Engineer
Terry Ann Hartzell-Insights
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Tish at Tish N Wonderland
Sandra at mmm! quilts
Beth at Cooking Up Quilts
The group began to break up just after lunch with the anticipation of long drives back home. Let me paint a picture of lots and lots of hugging. I was tired by the end like everyone else, but still sad to see it end.
What I Learned
KISS: Keep it simple! From food to travel, write it down, and plan it out. I mapped our travel each leg of the retreat to make the most of our time. Even the best laid plans will fall apart, though. I planned well for detours of bridges that are all under construction here at the same time, but had no idea there was yet another! Our wild cross country trip home bothered me far more than everyone else who enjoyed taking the back roads of Ohio.
Prepare everything possible ahead of time: I made Saturday's lunch on Wednesday afternoon, and put it in Crock Pots early Saturday morning. I had no idea it would take so long to make that much chili.
Plan details, make lists, and have backup plans: I had a lot of prep work ahead of time. Beth from Cooking Up Quilts helped me take a whole day and do our proposed tour together. She gave me ideas on what people from outside the area might want to see and do from a visitor's perspective. We timed our route, and built in rest times.
Have fun with everyone else: I wasn't nervous as the retreat approached which surprised me. I kept thinking these were just my friends coming to visit. I believe I felt prepared by tackling things weeks ahead of time, and that left me free to have fun right along with the group.
Conclusion: I can see another QBIR in the future with a date planned at least 6 months ahead of time. If it grows, it will need to be held somewhere larger than my studio. There are so many things to do in this part of Ohio we will never run out of new ideas, but I think what everyone wanted most was just another day to sew. I think we need more downtime planned in.
I hope this helps some of you who have tossed around the idea. Help me out, too. Have you ever hosted a retreat or gathering yourself? Do you have any advice or wisdom to give? I appreciate all your thoughts so let me know.
Now back to normal life here at Pink Doxies.
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.
Linking up with~
Sew Fresh Quilts
Quilter In the Closet
Young Texan Mama
Val's Tuesday's Archives
Freemotion By the River
Stitch All the Things
Cooking Up Quilts
Em's Scrap Bag
Show and Tell Monday
Love Laugh Quilt
Patchwork Times Design Wall
Sew Can She