Stitcher’s Hideaway Fun Report
This was a FANTASTIC RETREAT!!! I keep thinking that there is no way to top the previous ones, but each one seems even better than the last!
Our instructor was the one and only Sandie Vanosdall of The Sweetheart Tree, who traveled all the way from her home in Arizona to be with us at the Mystic, CT retreat. Sandie arrived early so that we could spend a day putzing around Connecticut. Sandie is a shopper! She had a ball! Most of our shopping was done at Old Mystic Village, where there are about 50 different little shops. Sandie and I kept running into frog statues just about everywhere we went, and we wondered more than once if it was an indication of serious frogging that would occur at the retreat! LOL! One frog statue must have been a good 4’ tall. It was creepy!! They were everywhere!!
The night before the retreat a group of us went to Friendly’s Restaurant -- mainly because we wanted Swiss Chocolate Almond Sundaes. We were in total bliss with our sundaes.
Sandie with a gift from some stitchers
The next morning our retreat finally began! Thirty stitchers arrived in a state of great anticipation! They were from CT, KS, MA, ME, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, and PA. We had about an hour before our first class started to pick a seat in the classroom and to begin a shopping frenzy. Chris & Pam from Chris’s Collection in Southwick, MA set up shop for us, and lucky us -- we had The Sweetheart Tree Trunk Shop to drool over. Everything was so gorgeous -- there is nothing quite like seeing the stitched models.
Such a serious group!
Eventually we settled into the classroom to begin our classtime together. But, of course, first we had to find out who traveled the farthest -- and that was Mary from Minnesota. She received some special gifts from Stitcher’s Hideaway. Here’s Mary below on the left, with stitching buddy Deb from Maine. Mary & Deb met at a Stitcher’s Hideaway retreat in Kissimmee, FL and have attended several retreats together since.
Next we all met Sandie and she got us started on our Holly & Hearts Ornament. What a sweet little piece! Everything we would need to learn to complete the Holly & Hearts Sampler was included in the ornament design. First we learned the Amadeus stitch, which you can see in the center of the design. She had a great way to teach us the stitch. Sandie figured we might as well get the most complicated stitch done first so that we could just breeze our way through the rest of the retreat. Her instructions were really great all around and she is a wonderful and fun instructor. She tells great stories, too! LOL!!
We hadn’t been in class long when it was time for our “first feeding.” Omigosh. The food from Mystic Market is fantasic. Then we had time for more shopping -- and boy did we shop! Then we returned to the classroom to continue our stitching.
Door prizes and Fun Pack donations for the Mystic retreat were WONDERFUL! Each attendee received a Fun Pack with goodies and samples and charts, and door prizes were given out throughout the retreat. The donors were Blue Ribbon Designs, Brightneedle, Calico Crossroads, Karen Capella, Chris’s Collection, Earth Threads, The Gift of Stitching, Glory Bee, Elizabeth's Designs, The Gift of Stitching, Jeannette Douglas Designs, Kreinik, Legacy Designs, Morning Glory Needleworks, Nordic Needle, Olde Colonial Designs, The Prairie Schooler, Rosewood Manor, Stitchy Kitty, Victoria Sampler, and Weeks Dye Works. Once again, many of the attendees won items donated by Karen Capella from her mother’s stash. It was just incredible! Thank you, thank you, donors!
This retreat had a Christmas theme and so a group of us participated in a Christmas cookie exchange. That was great! I was in awe of some of the specially decorated bags people made for our exchange -- while I was lucky to have enough time to put mine in baggies! Ha! Everything was delicious. We each made an extra dozen cookies to share with all the attendees, and each cookie exchange participant was told to bring additional cookies for our instructor and for a “mysterious purpose” to be revealed later. They were all wondering what that was all about!!
We had a wonderful day of stitching together, our second feeding from Mystic Market (an entree choice of crab cakes, filet mignon, stuffed chicken breat, or grilled portobello tower), and then everyone gathered in the classroom for a surprise from me. Now past attendees were probably expecting a Stitcher’s Hideaway original design from me that night, but hey -- I said it was a surprise and I wasn’t kidding! Everyone was sitting patiently while I stalled for time until...suddenly...look who walked in!!!
Yes, Santa had heard all about what good little stitchers we all were and so he stopped in to pay us a visit and gave each of us a present! I never saw an entire room of grown women turn into children so quickly!
It was amazing all the little things Santa knew about us -- he definitely knew if we had been naughty or nice! He knew Lauren was a turbo stitcher, that Joanne was disheveled, that Mary was from Minnesota, that Deb was an ADD stitcher (jumping from one stitching project to another), that Mary had shrunk so much the elves almost didn’t recognize her, and he even had a special message for Dawn from his reindeer -- a thank you for being a vegetarian! It was so much fun!
Remember how I told the Christmas Cookie Exchange participants to bring in some additional ones for a mysterious purpose?!? Well, it was for Santa, and he was delighted!
After our visit with Santa many of us stayed on to stitch some more and chat and laugh. It was a very nice end to a very wonderful day. Later that night in our room, I caught Deb chilling out with a Christmas Popcorn Ball from her Fun Pack and a glass of wine!! LOL!!
The next morning after breakfast we headed back to class to work on our ornament. Sandie covered the Modified Star Stitch, Elongated Rhodes Hearts, Diamond Eye Stitches, a Four-Trip Stitch forming a half-diamond shape, 2 variations of "Whitework," Oblique Herringbone Stitches, a variation of the Scotch Stitch, Large Cross Stitches, Tent Stitches, 2 variations of Tiny Laticework with Tacking Stitches, and the Amadeus Stitch (which is repeated 4 times to form a twisting diamond shape). The ornament and the sampler use lots of Mill Hill Magnifica Beads and Swarovski's Crystal-Clear Paillettes, which add sparkly accents. The finished sampler looks so much more wonderful than a picture can capture. The sparkles really give it a Christmas feel.
In between teaching us the various stitches, Sandie shared with us about her life, her family, her business, and designing. She had us rolling with laughter many times! Designing began for her when she was a young housewife and mother looking for unique ways to personalize and decorate her home. Sandie took advantage of quiet times when her two youngsters were napping to stitch designs. She soon began experimenting and customizing the charts she purchased. Her one-of-a-kind works of needleart attracted the attention of a shopowner where she took them to be framed. The owners asked her where the designs had come from, and Sandie explained that she had designed them. They convinced her to sell them through their store, and then introduced her to many influential individuals in the industry. Sandie also visited needlework shops, met the shopowners face-to-face and introduced them to her designs. The Sweetheart Tree was the name of her first design, which later became the name of her company.
I’ve just got to tell you. I really got gifted at this retreat. I was certainly surprised and delighted. Mary gave me a frog wine bottom stopper, and Donna, one of the Stitching Witches, gave me a beautiful scarf she picked up in Italy on a recent trip. A group from NY that call themselves the Stitching Witches gave me this big frog that has a zip-up mouth! I have proclaimed her Miss Orts and put my orts inside her mouth. Actually, I like to dangle some orts outside her mouth, too. I also like to use it to nibble on other stitchers. Oh -- and they put gummy frogs inside it! LOL!!
Look what Riona stitched for me! She is amazing! For one thing, I suspect that she stitches like the wind! The amount of stitching she completes in a year is mind blowing -- and her finishing is perfect. The design is called Love Ewe, which she found in The Gift of Stitching magazine (a very cool on-line magazine -- check it out!). She did an expert job finishing it. She used some braid that she inherited from her grandmother who had worked as a seamstress. Gorgeous!
And then I was presented with a gift that put me over the edge and made me bawl like a baby in the face of such overwhelming generosity. Ruth, who attended the retreat with her daughter Sharon and granddaughter Elizabeth, is actually a knitter. She loves to attend the retreats and usually knits as the rest of us stitch. Ruth knit me this beautiful pillow, and attached to it were various pieces of stitching that Sharon made for me! Omigosh, the work that went into that!
Three Generations: Elizabeth, Sharon, and Ruth
Throughout all our time together, the door prizes just kept coming! WOW!!!!!!!! We enjoyed seeing what each other received -- and had a wonderful opportunity to see some hot-off-the-needle new designs donated by some very kind designers.
Riona, Madelaine, Beverly and Mary all received cross stitch greeting cards -- a new item by Rosewood Manor.
After our second day of stitching and yet another incredible Mystic Market feast, we went back to the classroom for a Christmas Ornament Exchange! We were all impressed with the beautiful ornaments in this exchange. Just outstanding! Sandie used her wonderful artistic talent to display them for picture taking.
Stitcher’s Hideaway®, 172 Birch Street, Manchester, CT 06040