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What’s a Stitcher’s Hideaway Retreat all about?  Read our Fun Reports and find out!

Mystic, CT 2010 Fun Report

WOW!!  What a blast!!!  Two Mystic retreats were held to accomodate all the attendees, and both retreats were FANTASTIC! 

Belinda Karls-Nace of Blue Ribbon Designs was the instructor and she was excellent -- and a lot of fun!  Her class kits were over-the-top detailed and will serve as great reference materials for all the attendees in the future.  Belinda’s finishing instructions, in particular, totally rock!  She designed PocketFul of Peppermint for our retreat project.

Let me tell you a little about Belinda!  Someone showed me one of her designs - “Creepy Crawley” -- and it cracked me up.  I figured anyone who would design something like that was my kind of person, so I contacted her about teaching.  I’m so glad that I did!

Belinda arrived a couple days before the firstretreat so that she could spend some time taking in beautiful Connecticut.  Our first night we had  a yummy Mexican dinner and then headed for my little cottage along the Connecticut River.  After a good night’s sleep, we took a relaxing walk around the campground and had lunch on a little balcony overlooking the river.   Then we headed out for some adventure!  First we went to the Colchester Mill Fabrics in Colchester, CT which has a huge quilting section. If you know Belinda, you know she was in bliss!  She found some great fabrics and beading trim, and I found some fun Christmas and fall fabrics that I could not resist. 

Next we took a 3-hour cruise along the Connecticut River offered by River Quest.  The cruises take place on a large pontoon boat.  It was a perfect day for this adventure.  We took along hot mugs of cider (in Stitcher’s Hideaway mugs!) and cider donuts.  Mmmm.  We saw swans, egrets, cormorants, eagle nests, and more.   The foliage was just beginning to turn and it was a very pleasant and relaxing trip indeed.

That evening we went to the Dock and Dine Restaurant in Old Saybrook, CT, which is right on the ocean.  Belinda was so funny!  She was fascinated with the seagulls and took about a bazillion pictures of them.  They really are fun to watch as they swoop and nest. 

Early the next morning I happened to look out the cottage window and spotted an eagle nearby.  I hollered to Belinda and she ran out and caputured some photos of it!  Pretty cool.

That morning we took a scenic route to Old Lyme, CT.  On the way we spotted a very old graveyard and had a great time in there looking at the old tombstones, most dated during the 1700s and early 1800s. 

Eventually we made our way to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT to see the "With Needle and Brush: Schoolgirl Embroidery from the Connecticut River Valley" exhibit. That was pretty amazing!  We saw loads of embroideries, portraits, and watercolors that were in excellent condition.  History on the different pieces was also provided and I enjoyed reading it all. As a Connecticut native, here and there I recognized people and places represented in the embroidery.  A number of the retreat attendees also visited the museum during their stay in the area.

The night before each retreat was an optional beading class offered by my friend Dorrie Kendall.  She had designed a beaded ornament just for us!  It was fun to meet some of the retreat attendees the night before!

Since I took the beading class before each retreat, I ended up with two completed beaded ornaments!  They are so pretty!  I’m afraid that now I might have developed a new addiction, because I went out and bought a number of ornaments and beads to make some more.  Uh-oh!








Beaded ornaments




After the beading class, Belinda and I finished setting up the classroom for Mystic One! 

The Fun Packs were all ready, Belinda’s trunk show was all set up, Chris’s Collection had set up a shop in a nearby room....Woo-Hoo!  Let’s get this party started!!


Mystic One

Very excited stitchers arrived first thing in the morning for the first of the Mystic 2010 retreats!  They came from CT, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, TX, VA and Bermuda.  They poured into the classroom, found a spot, and dove into their Fun Packs.  You wouldn’t believe all the wonderful stash everyone received at this retreat!!!  Some companies were new to us and it was great to see their designs, needlework accessories, and to learn about their services.  We had door prizes from Brightneedle, Elizabeth’s Designs, Jeannette Douglas Designs, Karen Capella (a friend of Stitcher’s Hideaway), Kreinik, Morning Glory Needleworks, Rosewood Manor, Stitchy Kitty, The Gift of Stitching and Weeks Dye Works.  And we all received items in our fun packs from Arelate Studio, Brightneedle, Calico Crossroads, Chris’s Collection, Elizabeth’s Designs, Glory Bee, Gumleaf Stitch Designs, Jeannette Douglas Designs, Lavender Wings, Morning Glory Needleworks, Needlework Finishing by Dawn Boisvert, Nordic Needle, Olde Colonial Designs, Stitchy Kitty, The Prairie Schooler, Trail Creek Farm, Victoria Sampler -- and Stitcher’s Hideaway, of course! 

Set up in the very same classroom was Belinda’s trunk show!  Oh, we did serious damage to our wallets there...hehe.  There’s nothing quite like seeing the stitched models!

As soon as they could, off the stitchers went to visit Chris and Pam, who had set up a Chris’s Collection shop for our stash-enhancement pleasure!  Oh, WOW!  So much to see!!  New designs!  New stitching toys! 

Next it was time to start our introductory class with Belinda Karls-Nace of Blue Ribbon Designs.  We settled into class and Sandy from TX, who had traveled the farthest, was presented with some special gifites!

Belinda introduced Pocketful of Peppermint to us, which she had designed for our retreat.  We received all we would need to complete that sampler -- and more! -- but our class focus was on creating an ornament, and finishing it perfectly! 

Belinda designed an ornament for us to work on in class, and you can see two variations of that ornament in the first row below.  You can also see some of the ornaments she made using portions of her sampler design.  We spent our first hour together backstitching the outline for both sides of our ornament.

We were so excited and eager to get started...needles were flying!

And then suddenly it was time for a delicious lunch from Mystic Market Catering and more shopping!  LOL!

Every meal time was terrific.  I enjoyed sitting with different stitchers at each meal so that I could get to know as many as possible.  There’s nothing quite like a group of stitchers.  We all have our needlework addiction in common, so it is very easy to quickly make new friends. There were many that were new to Stitcher’s Hideaway to meet for the first time and that was so much fun!

Back to class.  Belinda went over the specialty stitches used in her ornament, which were also the stitches that we would be using to complete Pocketful of Peppermint.  Her directions were excellent, and presented in a binder for us to treasure and refer to in the future.  All of the finishing techniques that she would be sharing with us were also in the binder.  Perfect!

Although Belinda showed us how to do the specialty stitches, she urged us to do our own thing with our ornament, substitute stitches and threads, add beading and charms -- do whatever we wanted to make it our own -- and we did!

Throughout our time together we had doorprizes, doorprizes, and doorprizes!!!!!!

Amy received a doorprize from The Gift of Stitching

Tracey with Jeannette Douglas Designs doorprize


Marilyn with a Kreinik doorprize

Madeline with a Rosewood Manor doorprize

At this retreat, Christine, who is deaf, came with Brynn, an interpreter!  Christine had been cross stitching over Aida cloth for many years and longed to learn to stitch on linen and do specialty stitches.  Brynn, who is not a stitcher, needed a stitch interpreter as we went along-- LOL!  With Belinda, Brynn, and I all helping, Christine learned all those things and more.  Other stitchers shared tips and tricks with her, too.  Christine was absolutely tickled to death to be able to get this help and her enthuasiasm was contagious!

Christine and Brynn

Christine picked things up rapidly!

The afternoon was great fun.  We worked on our ornaments, chatted, got silly, took breaks to shop, and on it went. 

After an outstanding dinner, we gathered back in the classroom for some more fun!  I had two Christmas ornament kits for everyone.  The first one (left) was designed by me as a little keepsake of our time together.  Everyone received some fabric to back their finished ornament.  The Christmas fabrics were assorted designs that came from a pack of quilt pieces!

The second design was created by Linda Rosser who used to run a needlework shop in Kissimmee, FL.  I met Linda when I ran retreats in Kissimmee and she is just a delightful and talented person.  She made this design for the attendees at one of the retreats and gave me permission to give it out to stitchers at my other retreats.  I recently learned that she is now designing for Victoria Sampler!  I am so excited and happy for her! I am looking forward to seeing her future designs!

There were just a couple specialty stitches involved in these designs and so I went over how to do them.  But...I had to really take my time about it.....and was getting sillier and sillier.  Here I am demonstrating what I came to think of as the Distraction Stitch....

....because I knew that at any moment my good pal Saint Nick would arrive and I needed to stall!!

He snuck in the back of the room and took all the stitchers by surprise!!

          Santa!                                                                                          Belinda and Sue with Santa!


First he consulted his naughty and nice list...and (gulp) he knew things about us!!  He really does know when we’ve been bad or be good for goodness sake!!!






          Santa checking his list!                                                                       Whew!  Robin made the good girls list!

Santa had a gift for Belinda....

...and Christine!


Oh, he was charming!  Delightful!!

And, oh!  The things he knew about us!! LOL!!

He congratulated Liz on how good she’d been!!!

Laurel & Holly enjoying the jolly old elf!

He had gifts for all of us!  Oh, what fun he was!!  And perhaps we all went to bed that night with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads!!

The next morning we headed for class once again.  We finished working on our ornaments and then Belinda began teaching us the various finishing techniques.

The way that Belinda had us backstitch using 2 threads around both the front and back of the piece really helped to sturdy it and make it easy to whipstitch the pieces together and stuff them.

We learned a way to finish the ornament by adding beads around the ornament, and also learned to make perfect braid and attach it to our ornaments.  I was particularly pleased to master braiding because my own attempts over the years...well...they always came out too loose and sloppy.  She taught us to make braid using a pencil method, and a braiding tool.  My braiding tool is going to be one of my best friends from now on!  In fact, I’m going to redo some braiding I attached to items long ago. 

Belinda gave us each a binder filled with detailed instructions for finishing ornaments, making braid, etc.  What a great reference tool!


Belinda showed Sue and Ruth how to make braid out of two different colors of floss.  They each made a braid of one color....

And then twisted them together!

Belinda was wonderfully patient and encouraging as we learned the techniques.  In her trunk show, Belinda included many finished ornaments for us to admire, and that inspired us to do more!  Many of Belinda’s designs lend themselves to making portions of them into ornaments, too.

Belinda is a Yankees fan -- can you tell?  She was checking in on games in between classes!  She was rooting for them and even wore Yankee socks for good luck!  Here she is with Robin (left) and Lynne (right).

Belinda helped Amy and Gayle to make their braid, which came out perfect, of course!

Almost everyone completed their ornament stitching (Marilyn made more than one!) and managed to completely finish them with braiding or beading!  We were so pleased with ourselves!!  Every ornament came out different because we made various color and stitch changes.  Some stitchers added “Stitcher’s Hideaway 2010” on the reverse side using lettering from the design that I created for them.

I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be able to completely finish something at a retreat like this and to learn so much!  And to have so much fun doing it!





That night we gathered for a Christmas Ornament Exchange!  That was so much fun!  Even for those of us who didn’t make an ornament to exchange because we got to watch and admire the creations of others! Each participant stitched an ornament and then gift wrapped it.  They then drew numbers and picked out a gift to unwrap according to the numbers they drew.  They were just wonderful!









Linda M.


Linda E.



They were all WONDERFUL!!!!!




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