Mystic, CT 2003 Fun Report!

Ho-ho-ho!!  What a jolly time we had at the Christmas-theme retreat in Mystic, CT!

Stitchers gathered from NY, NH, MA, NJ, ME, CT, and RI.  Those who traveled by ferry from NY had wild tales to tell of their ocean voyages.  An INCREDIBLE windstorm had hit the east coast and even just driving on the highways was difficult.  But they all made it in one piece, and arrived ready for fun! 



Playing with the Fun Pack stash

Each stitcher received a Christmas Lighthouse Fun Pack with a candy cane reindeer peeking out from the top.  And inside?!?  What joy!!  Charts, threads, pretties, and holiday treats!  It was a bit like stockings on Christmas morning as we dug into our treasures.  There were gifts from Calico Crossroads, Charles Craft, Glory Bee, Jeannette Douglas Designs, Just Nan, Just One More, Mill Hill, monsterbubbles, Sue Hillis Designs, The Prairie Schooler, Weeks Dye Works, Rosewood Manor, Stitcher’s Hideaway, Trail Creek Farm, Udderly Smooth and Rosemary Hughes! Rosemary is from Wales and was one of the stitchers at the Sturbridge 2003 retreat. She couldn’t be with us at Mystic and so she designed a pretty hardanger heart ornament for us!  Nancy Boyarsky of Glory Bee Designs was there as an attendee and she brought a very special surprise for each of us – a design she made just for the Mystic 2003 stitchers, all kitted up with sampler threads donated by The Gentle Art and fabric donated by Wichelt Imports, Inc.  A big thanks to all the designers and companies that so generously gave to us!!

Lisa Arpin of Needle Pulling Thread in Branford, CT had set up a fantastic stash enhancement shop and boy, did we ever take advantage of the opportunity!!  What a blast!  Lisa and her sister Michelle had set up a little Charlie Brown sort of Christmas tree that was just adorable (and decorated with stash!) and we had Christmas music to accompany us during our shopping frenzy.  Lisa also gave us a little pack of surprises – patterns, her cool business cards with grid pads for designing cross stitch, a pattern with linen included and a wonderful discount coupon for a future visit at her shop!! 

Many of us made a batch of our favorite Christmas cookies to share and the assortment filled up a looooong table.  We nibbled on them all weekend!  Everything was so yummy!  (See RECIPES)

And they were all calorie-free!!

The Stash Enhancement Frenzy

Hmmm...I’ll take this one...and this one...and...”

After awhile we settled down enough to begin our first class with Sue Stokes of Nutmeg Needle.  That night we worked on ‘Twas, the first of three ornaments inspired by the poem “The Night Before Christmas.”  We learned a variety of stitches – including an interesting star shape.

The next morning after we had breakfast together, we began working on Snug, the second of Sue’s trio of ornaments. A running joke began about bells and advice for Sue Stokes.  I’d tell you about it, but I just can’t put it on this website! {blush}.




Next came a delivery of gourmet lunch boxes from Mystic Marketplace.  WOW! Those were awesome!!  We lingered a bit over lunch but were eager to get started on Visions, the third ornament.  Sue taught us interesting finishing techniques to use in completing our projects.  As is so often the case, some of us began to get sillier and sillier.  There was a great deal of discussion concerning bells and other matters, accompanied by a great deal of laughter and occasional blushing.

How do you do that stitch?

Oh!  I get it now!

This giant grid is what Sue Stokes uses to demonstrate stitches

At dinner time my husband Michael arrived with delights from Mystic Pizza (yes, this is the restaurant where the movie “Mystic Pizza” starring Julia Roberts was filmed).  Michael likes to pop in on the retreats whenever he is able so he can see the end result of all the planning and to meet everyone.  He especially enjoys spending time chatting with Grace from New Jersey, who along with some NY and CT stitchers has now attended 3 Stitcher’s Hideaway retreats!  (We’re not addicted… much… really…we can stop any time…we just, um, don’t wanna.  Yeah, that’s it!)

That night we had a Christmas ornament exchange.  We had each gift wrapped an ornament and then put them all on a table.  Then we drew numbers and picked out a gift in the order of the numbers drawn.  Some ornaments were stitched or handmade in another way, and some were store bought.  This was a lot of fun but we all about rolled on the floor laughing when Sue Stokes selected her ornament, which had bells on it!

The Reaction to Sue Stokes opening her ornament!

We had a wonderful Show ‘n Tell session!  There were many different styles represented and it was so interesting.  What beautiful works of art we saw! But we don’t always see just needlework at Show ‘n Tell and this time was no exception.  Liz from NY brought in a picture of her recent creation – her beautiful newborn daughter Emily!!  Liz had received a gift at the Sturbridge retreat in July 2003 for being the Most Pregnant Stitcher.

Oh!  And then there were the door prizes!  They were donated by 4 My Boys, Coats & Clark, Dames of the Needle, Finger Work, HeartWork from My Hand, Homespun Elegance, Nordic Needle, Olde Willow Design Group, Rosewood Manor, Stitchy Kitty, The Victoria Sampler, Trail Creek Farm, and Stitcher’s Hideaway.  When Gale from Massachusetts realized she had won a door prize from 4 My Boys she began begging, “Please let it be a snow man…I want a snow man!”  When she unwrapped her door prize, much to her great delight she discovered that it WAS a snowman design!!  What wonderful door prizes!!  THANK YOU, KIND DONORS!

At the conclusion of our evening activities, some headed for their guest rooms to play in their stash or to snuggle in for a good night’s rest, some stayed up way too late and watched a movie together, some gathered to discuss…well, bells I suppose!  And then there were some of us who stayed in the classroom stitching away until we were cross-eyed. I was in the stitching group and it was a treasured peaceful time for me just relaxing and stitching in the company of good friends, chatting, and listening to the beautiful Christmas music that Patti from NH brought with her.

Kathy Cadilek providing some assistance.

The next morning after another shared breakfast (with some of us dragging ourselves in after a late night!) we went back to the classroom.  This time we worked on a beautiful Christmas sampler designed for us by Kathy Cadilek of The Monkeyworks.  What a nice surprise to find that she had also designed a matching small Christmas ornament for us!  We loved the incredibly soft Gloriana silk threads in her kits.  Kathy’s projects had some beading and a charm along with several specialty stitches.  She had the model of her Christmas Sampler finished as a “Flat Fold” and it was just gorgeous.  Now, I know that right away some readers are going to wonder “What is a Flat Fold?”  Well, it’s a great finishing technique designed by Judy Odell (see her Just a Thought book, “Flat Fold”).  I was so pleased that Kathy had some of Judy’s Flat Fold books with her.  Several of us purchased the book and I can tell you that I tried it out as soon as I finished my Christmas sampler. The instructions were very easy to follow and the results were so wonderful that I finished up two other projects as flat folds that I had recently finished stitching – all in time for Christmas giving!  Edie from MA wrote soon after the retreat that she had also finished her sampler as a Flat Fold.  We’re quick! Ha!

And now, read on for some comments from the Mystic stitchers and some more photos of our fun together!   More...

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