Sturbridge, MA 2005 Fun Report

With 40 stitchers, Sturbridge 2005 was the biggest retreat yet, and WOW, those stitchers arrived ready for a good time!!   They  traveled from CT, DE, FL, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY and PA to Old Sturbridge Village, a recreated 1850’s-era community. The retreat was actually held right in the Village in a large conference hall with wonderful wide-plank wooden floors and appropriate décor for the location. And the star of the retreat?  Ellen Chester of With My Needle

Ellen and her husband Tom traveled from Ohio to spend some time in New England prior to the retreat, and I met them that evening for a delicious dinner at The Publick House in Sturbridge. It was great to finally meet Ellen in person after more than 2 years of email! (It took me over a year to convince her to teach--LOL!!) She’s an itsy-bitsy thing – just look at her here next to me (I’m 5’5”).  WOW. I felt like a giant!!  LOL!!!

Ellen may be little, but she sure wasn’t short on wonderful instructions, tips, stories, and giggles! Class time just flew by!!  But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself!!

First, those wonderful stitchers were just models of patience <grin> as they waited for 9 a.m. and the start of the retreat.  Of course, I had the doors shut so that helped!  LOL!!  They gathered in a large hallway and helped themselves to coffee and pastries as the minutes ticked by.  Finally the moment arrived and I opened the door and in they poured!  The once quiet room was filled with chatter and laughter and excitement!  Everyone picked out a seat, where Fun Packs were already waiting for them. 

Some dove right into those Fun Packs, while others went right for Stash Enhancement, courtesy of Chris from Chris’s Collection and Pam from Olde Colonial Designs.  There was so much to see!  The shops brought in a fantastic assortment of charts, accessories, baskets, and the wonderful wood products made by Pam’s husband. 











                   Pam from Olde Colonial Designs                                                               Chris from Chris’s Collection

The Fun Packs were great!  Items were donated by Brightneedle, Brittercup Designs, Chris’s Collection, Elizabeth’s Designs, Glory Bee, Jeannette Douglas Designsmonsterbubbles, Olde Colonial Designs, Rosewood Manor, Stitchy Kitty, Sue Hillis Designs, The Prairie Schooler, The Victoria SamplerUdder Cream, and With My Needle!  Thank you SO much, DONORS!

A stitcher found something unusual in her Fun Pack, which meant she received a special door prize.  And the stitcher who traveled the farthest, Dawn from Florida, received a “Hop into Bed” nightshirt with frogs in colorful jammies jumping around on a bed!   Yes, a nightshirt for a stitcher covered with FROGS!!!  LOL!!  For those not in the know, when stitchers say they have been visited by the FROG, what they mean is that they have made some mistakes and must now remove those stitches (RIPPIT...RIPPIT....RIPPIT!).  There was a lot of laughter over that nightshirt and many suffered from stitcher’s envy and wanted one of their own.  So much so, that I looked into it and am happy to tell you that Stitcher’s Hideaway is now selling them!  I say, Embrace your Inner Frog!!  Visit Look What’s In Store!

After some more door prizes, eventually we settled down a bit to begin our classtime with Ellen.  We eagerly opened up our Call of the Sea kits, fondling our linen and threads as any sane stitcher does.  It wasn’t long before we were able to begin stitching as Ellen instructed.

Ellen’s Call of the Sea is a wonderful needlecase with really cool optional accessories.  To the left is a picture of the needlebook closed, to the right the accessories, and below are inside and ouside views.










The time just flew!  Suddenly it was time for lunch! Our dining room was directly across a hall from our classroom and so we were able to just leave everything behind during our meals.  And oh, what meals!  The food was prepared by Bidwell Tavern, the main restaurant for Old Sturbridge Village.  Many of the items they serve are traditional New England fare, such as indian pudding, fancy relishes, pot roast, etc.  The meals were generous and delicious.   I found myself eating half portions just to get through the meals and still try everything -- oh, except for my chicken pot pie -- oh, man.  I ate every last morsel!

During all our meal times there were door prizes and more door prizes.  We were all able to see what each person received and that was so much fun!   Door prizes were donated by  by Brightneedle, Calico Crossroads, Chris’s Collection, Earth Threads, Finger Work, PieceWork Magazine (Interweave Press, Inc.), Jeannette Douglas Designs, Kreinik, Glory Bee, M-Designs, Nordic Needle, Rosewood Manor, Stitcher's Hideaway, Stitchy Kitty, The MonkeyWorks, and The Victoria Sampler








                       Doorprize from Kreinik                                                                                         Doorprize from Finger Work

After lunch, Aimee Newell, Old Sturbridge Village Curator of Textiles and Fine Arts, presented a “Curator's Choice Show and Tell”  from the OSV collection. The Village collection includes 60,000+ artifacts including about 120 samplers, as well as needlework pictures, embroidered quilts and whitework purses, collars and cuffs. Oh, it was FANTASTIC!!!  We saw samplers and other embroidered items (including wallets, pocketbooks and reticules) from rural New England stitched during the late 1700s and early 1800s.  Many of the artifacts had never been on public exhibit!  In some cases we were able to learn a little about the individuals who stitched the items. It was just fascinating. 














After our lecture we had time to explore the OSV Gift Shop, stash enhance, and stitch to our heart’s content before dinner. 

At dinner there were more door prizes and fun, and then next up was a surprise for them all from me!  They each received a Lavender in Lacis kit, a design I created for the Minnetonka 2005 retreat but with a few changes to reflect “Old Sturbridge Village.”  Gorgeous threads were donated by Weeks Dye Works for the project -- Periwinkle, Utraviolet, Sugar Plum, and Cadet.  It was stitched on 28 count Cashel Lavender Bliss.   The kits alone looked so pretty with all those colors together.  (Thanks Deb, Lauren, and Shirley for helping to assemble all those kits!)

In the process of teaching the project, I gave them all a demonstration of needleweaving  and stab-method stitching that I don’t suppose any of them will forget for some time to come!  I was so excited to see that by Saturday evening some of the stitchers had made incredible progress on the piece and were all set to do their needleweaving!  About a month after the retreat, Cynthia emailed me a scan of her completed Lavender in Lacis!  I was absolutely tickled to see that she had completed it!

That night we wandered off to our hotel rooms with visions of stitching dancing in our heads. 

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