What an absolute blast we had at the Storrs retreat!! Several people said they couldn’t remember the last time they laughed so much! Stitchers came from CT, NY, MA, ME, NH, and OH for two days of stitching with Ann & Liz of Brightneedle and great food, fun, and fellowship. We had two wonderful field trips and created many memories together.
The night before the retreat there was a bit of excitement. Liz & Ann were driving from NY and their car broke down in Enfield, CT. After a loooong wait in the dark on the highway, they were towed to a VW dealer and I drove out to pick them up. Their car was loaded with items for the retreat but we managed to fit the 3 of us and everything into my little VW Beetle! Whew! On the way to the hotel we had fun talking and trying not to get lost. We finally arrived around midnight and we did our best to get a good night’s rest before the retreat began early in the morning.
I don’t know if ANY stitcher sleeps well the night before a retreat! We’re all too excited! Liz Knudsen and Ann Pettit of Brightneedle
When the stitchers arrived in the morning they received their Fun Packs. Some immediately dove into them like kids on Christmas morning! Others somehow restrained themselves temporarily and looked at the WONDERFUL display of stitched Brightneedle designs that Ann & Liz had brought with them! Naturally we went into stash enhancement mode. What a treat it was to see the stitched designs! They are just so much more beautiful than what any picture can convey.
We had really neat things in our Fun Packs! Betsy Stinner of Earth Threads donated complete Lazy Days of Summer kits! Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler donated gorgeous thread packs for one of her free designs and Stitcher’s Hideaway donated the linen to complete the project. Olde Willow Stitchery and Weeks Dye Works gave us beautiful thread samples. Jeannette Douglas of Jeannette Douglas Designs gave us charts and thread packs to complete them. We received wonderful charts from Finger Work, Just One More, monsterbubbles, Rosewood Manor, With My Needle, The Monkeyworks, The Prairie Schooler, and Glory Bee. Rosemary from Wales, who attended a retreat in 2003 also designed a chart for us! We also received a sample of Danish Flower Thread from Scandinavian Stitches, and many other goodies!
But that didn’t end the freebies. Throughout the retreat more items were received, including a teaser for the mystery surprise I had prepared for everyone. It was killing me not to spill the beans, but somehow I managed to wait until Saturday night to reveal it. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself again!
There was a lot of commotion as we met each other. There were the excited greetings from those who had met before at previous retreats, and warm hellos as we all got to know each other. Some stitchers knew each other from a message board at 123Stitch.com but met in person for the first time. In fact, Marie had won a contest on this message board for free retreat registration! Marie and Linda were roomies who talked late into the night!
Linda & Marie
We settled down to begin working on our Cottage Garden Needlework Set-Autumn Mums project under the instruction of Ann & Liz. The fabric was wonderful, the threads beautiful and soft, directions clear, and we dove right into our stitching.
Our Project -- Outside View
The time quickly flew by and suddenly it was time for lunch! We gathered in the Nathan Hale Inn’s restaurant for a delicious buffet. Marianne fell in love with the chocolate covered coconut macaroons and begged for more! They were out, but they remembered her longing and brought us more the next day. Oh, they were yummy!!
After lunch we headed out for our first field trip. Now it might seem odd that a group of stitchers would want anything to do with FROGS, but that’s exactly where we were headed – although some vowed that they would not allow the frogs to see their stitching or even look at their hands just in case! (The dread of the frog comes from errors made in stitching and having to Rippit-rippit-rippit!). First we went to the Windham Mill & Textile Museum for a tour given by Barbara the curator. It was so interesting!! We learned about the history of the Willimantic Linen Company (1854-1898) and the American Thread Company which opened in 1898. We learned about how the thread was made, and the way people lived and worked during those times. We asked many questions and were so impressed with Barbara’s knowledge. It was truly fascinating.
We also heard about the bullfrog battle of 1754 and saw a room devoted to frogs in the museum! We followed up our tour by driving on some of the town’s roads to see the beautiful Victorian Mill Houses and then dared to visit the famed Windham Frog Bridge! The frogs on the bridge are huge. If they were stretched out they would probably be at least 10 feet long! They sit on huge spools of thread! What a sight!
Around this time, Marianne’s husband Garry -- Hero of the Retreat -- drove Ann & Liz out to get a rental car since they had learned their car would not be ready until Tuesday.
Next we headed back to the hotel for a delicious meal in the board room, which had a large beautiful wood table with comfy chairs that tipped back (sometimes to our surprise!), and then left for a visit to Wyndham Needleworks. Lydia had goodies waiting for us and we wandered about looking at her incredible collection of antique samplers. There were some amazingly detailed and beautifully executed samplers done by children as young as seven! There were samplers dating back to the 1600’s. It was truly an amazing and inspiring collection. We also shopped for stash there.
Karen making progress on her project
The next morning we gathered for breakfast in the board room. This was really funny! At each place there was a dish with a little danish, some fresh fruit, and a delicious coffee cake, along with hot coffee and orange juice. For most of us, that would have been plenty, but then they brought out the REAL breakfast which would have been fit for lumberjacks!! You should have seen our faces when these huge plates came out heaped with food! There was no way any of us could have eaten it all, but we gave it our best effort!
Next we headed off to class for a glorious morning of stitching, stitching, stitching. As a group our stitching experience varied. Some had never tried one-over-one stitching or some of the other stitches. Some had never stitched on linen before either. But we quickly mastered all we needed to know. We were all impressed with how fast Lauren stitched and the unusual positions she stitched in!!
Next followed another incredible buffet lunch. I think we talked and laughed more than ate at that point as most of us were recovering from the lumberjack breakfast! And oh, did we ever laugh!
We were also able to purchase all the cool Brightneedle designs and Stitcher’s Hideaway t-shirts and stash bags throughout the retreat. This group of stitchers got to see the latest color t-shirt -- a deep teal green -- a real beauty.
Lauren, aka Speedy Gonzales
Sprinkled throughout the retreat were door prize drawings from The MonkeyWorks, Brightneedle, Calico Crossroads, Glory Bee, Nordic Needle, Rosewood Manor, Stitchy Kitty, The Victoria Sampler, Wichelt Imports, Inc. and, of course, Stitcher's Hideaway.
As we stitched, Liz and Ann shared with us some of the stories and inspirations behind their different designs. That was so interesting! It made the different designs even more special to us.
Lauren can even stitch laying down! She probably stitches in her sleep!!
“Sue! Get away from me with that camera!”
Stitcher’s Hideaway®, 172 Birch Street, Manchester, CT 06040