Months and months ago I saw the team at Fatquarterly were putting a quilting retreat together. That would be fun I thought, but they are always the other side of the Atlantic and I would be too nervous to go that far without any experience of what a retreat is. Then they said it was being held in London!!! No brainer, I was in straight away.
And I waited, and I waited, and I waited - and it finally came this weekend!!!!
I spent yesterday recovering from it but it was one of the best weekends of my life. Up there with my 21st celebrations but a lot less blurry as no alcohol was involved.
Saturday was manic, overwhelming and utterly fantastic. As usual I arrived early to a big hug from Lynne and a goodie bag from John. There were a few other quilters in before me and then over the next hour another hundred or so arrived.
We had also been given a name bingo card so there was a lot of milling around trying to find those named. As everyone name tags were in the breast area this involved a lot of starring at boobies! One way to get to know each other. My mate Amy had to take it one step further though bless her. She had seen my wonderful name badge made by Di and wanted to stroke the stamp on it - so she did even though it was sitting right on top of my boob. Very very funny.
Eventually I got to my first class which was being given by Lucie Summers. I'm met her a couple of times now and she is fast becoming one of my favourite people as well as being sickeningly talented. She showed us how to do her porthole technique and I think you will agree that even with my crumpled sample below it is very effective.
In the afternoon we started sewing our Iron (wo)Man challenge top. Teams of 6 or 7 were given a bunch of fabric to do what we wanted. Because of classes etc. we worked on it in shifts. A little huddle to plan what to do and then Annie and myself cut and pieced the blocks before some of the others tidied them up later and assembled it. I never even took a picture of this (doh!).
Next it was my biggest fear. Zips! I hate them and even though I finally cracked how to put them in a cushion back I haven't tried anything else. Claudia fixed all that and I made this little pouch. Fear gone! Well as long as Claudia is around me anyway.
That was going to be my sewing for the day. I knew I was signed up for the jelly roll race but thought I would do it Sunday as I was totally shattered. But no, Michael found out and wanted to compete. Although it only needed to be against the clock, he needed someone to compete against and talked me into it. Oh dear. All I can say is either my machine was a lot slower than his or he cheated and snuck a loads of strips into my pile because it was never ending! Well he won obviously, after 1hr and 10mins solid sewing (I might have chatted a bit during it to people but he never stopped). As soon as he finished I put mine aside to carry on with it on Sunday.
Then finally it was time to relax, lounging in the bar area for a while chatting with guild members and a few others then out to dinner organised by Susan. I had a brilliant chat with Tammy, Judith and Jennie broke all the small talk social conventions and went straight into political and serious stuff. Very interesting to hear different viewpoints.
After dinner, I went back to the hall to pick up some bits as it was on the way to the car park. There was a quiz going on and like a kid who didn't want to miss anything I sat watching what was happening even though I was totally wiped out.
Sunday was a lot more mellow as that first manic excitement had passed. I set up my machine early intending to get the infernal jelly roll top done, but I chatted. A lot.
Then I had a class with Kerry on freezer paper piecing which was very relaxed and I can see me using this in the future.
After that I went back to the jelly roll - and chatted and chatted and chatted. After lunch I realised I had another class coming up so put my foot to the pedal and went for it. When I realised I had sewn the last row I may have squealed a bit - quite loudly. I was so glad it was done. In truth, it probably only needed about 20 mins sewing to get it finished but it took me half a day! You can see in my face what it had done to me!
My last class of the weekend was frame purses with Katy. I ended up sitting in the back in the naughty corner with Trudi and Trash. Trudi may look innocent but there was a lot of oo-eer missus innuendo going on in that classroom coming from her, but despite all that I managed to finish my purse and am delighted with it.
After that it was all the goodbyes and I couldn't face trying to see everyone. I said goodbye to a few people and left just before the end. Wishing it wasn't over but so very happy I had been a part of it. The energy of all those like minded people coming together to meet and have fun and learn new things was indescribable. There were loads more brilliant people I didn't name check, if I had remembered I had a camera most of the time I would have snaps of them.
However, you can read about others experiences over at http://www.fatquarterly.com/fq-london-2012-has-ended.html.
The next post will be about the goodies I received. This one was too long as it is.