This past weekend five NJNA members attended a stitching retreat offered by the Monmouth Chapter, EGA, in Voorhees, NJ. There is a needlepoint shop nearby in Merchantville, the Nimble Needle, run by Karen Milano. Karen opened earlier in the day than her usual hours and gave those attending the retreat a 20% discount! Her new location is roomier, and it is much easier to find threads. Karen has a wonderful selection of threads as well as great accessories (think magnets, with bling and without). She is also wonderful at helping select the threads needed for a painted canvas.
Then it was on to stitch. There were twenty three of us taking over the Hampton Inn along with the families participating in a boys soccer tournament. We had the large meeting room with wonderful lighting both day and night. (I never used my light and stitched on congress cloth without my magnifiers!). We sat at round tables with four Stitcher’s at a table, ample room for us to spread out our supplies. Most of us worked on several projects during the three days we stitched. We took over the room at three Friday afternoon with all our bags and carts, set up our edible treats and were ready to go. Stitching continued after dinner with participants dropping out for bed as the evening progressed. Last one out locked the door and first one up to stitch asked the front desk to open the room.
There were a wide variety of eating places within five miles on route 73. Or you could walk across the parking lot and eat at the Voorhees Diner which almost everyone did on Saturday evening. If you had been there, you would have seen Ada D. working on her Japanese embroidery and a birth sampler. Ellen S. divided her time between a painted canvas of a snowman and a counted Bargello design, “My Favorite Things”. Tina F. spent her time working on a birth sampler for her grandson.. Sue R. has a beautiful painted cuff she was stitching as well as a painted autumn canvas on which she was stitching a beaded pumpkin and the background in a sign for her newly painted bathroom. Sue C. Divided her time between the chapter project, the Magic Shell and beginning her Bargello, “My Favorite Things” which she bought after seeing Ellen’s–I finished purchasing the threads at Nimble Needle on Friday.
There are so many benefits to a retreat like this, time to escape from your daily life–no laundry, no meal preparation, no work! It is a chance to meet new stitchers and to share ideas among all, a chance to see new designs and projects and to admire the work of others. We learned the names of excellent finishers for our beautiful pieces. We heard about good shops and what they offer. Best of all a productive, relaxing weekend for all. By Sunday at three we were headed back to the real world refreshed.
Staying in Asheville for the eclipse the day following the end of the seminar seemed like a good plan, but after the banquet on the last night there were many distressing stories. Our plan–Jill and myself–was to leave our hotel after breakfast for the hotel in downtown Asheville where we would spend Monday evening. Then we would wander through the shops during the day and ending at the designated eclipse park in downtown Asheville. When we were leaving the banquet, we were told that downtown Asheville would be closed on Monday. Now what. We postponed any decision until Monday. There was nothing on the internet about shops closing so we left before nine expecting lots of traffic. There was very little. We got to the hotel, parked, sat in the lobby with a cup of coffee and layed out our walking route before setting forth. Almost all the shops were open but there was virtually no foot traffic in these stores. It seems that most people were staying away from the area. About one we walked towards the Pack Park where the downtown event was being held. As we walked we saw more and more people headed in the same direction. The park is small and had a number of families set up on blankets. There was music as well as activities going on for the youngsters. We found a place across the street with trees for shade and a low wall for sitting where we waited and watched. At that time there were some clouds in the sky but it was easy to see the moon “eating” the sun using our eclipse glasses–thanks to the library for supplying them. As the time for the maximum coverage approached, larger and larger clouds appeared and we were concerned that we would not be able to see it. Watching constantly was difficult because you needed to crane your neck. One diligent woman kept us all posted and shouted out when the sun was visible! The clouds broke open for about a five minute window with the maximum coverage right in the middle of the window! As we waited the sky got dark enough for the street lights to come on. The maximum darkness was similar to the time right after sunset in Asheville where the coverage was 99%. It was a great experience and fun enjoying it with friendly strangers appreciating the same event.
Yesterday, Sunday, was the last day at this year’s EGA seminar in Asheville, NC. I had a second day of the Lily of the Lake with Gail Sirna. I did as she asked us all and got rid of my “tails”, some I finished and some I just tied off. Tail free, we began today working on thenleft border which has several bands. After lunch it was the right border. I really like the way they look. The participants of this class were so cooperative and helpful to all–lending a battery operated light to someone who was not near an outlet, giving suggestions for how to count for placement of stitches, etc.
There was so much hubbub about the eclipse which occurred today and the traffic that was around Asheville that many were anxious to get on the road last night and not wait for the morning. Our class instruction ended before the afternoon break so several people skipped the banquet and got on the road. I did stay and felt the dinner was tastier than the opening banquet. The prize was the dessert which was a small chocolate teacup filled with berries and whipped cream. I ate every bit of that cup! The favor was wonderful! On of the committee members made one for each of us!
You can see mine and Rosie’s with one open and one with the embroidered cover. This is a favor that can be put to good use. At the banquet it was announced that the only elevator in the Looking Glass building was not working! By the time I was leaving this morning it was back in operation, but not when we returned to the room! It was a good seminar although there facility issues, the classes offered were great as was the merchandise night and teachers’ showcase and both seeing friends and making new ones!
I could not post last night as the room is too dark with all lights on to take a photo. You can see all the parts added during the day which give the border as well as the quills so much more character. This is a piece that I can see myself completing. Not only do I like it but the directions are clear and there is no “new” techniques to learn without guidance. There is more to add in the borders as well as the quills and each adds more character to the design.
Today was day one of Lily of the Lake by Gail Sirna. I like the picture and the threads used are beautiful. Today we completed enough of each petal to understand the stitch and how it fits in the petal–some petals are repeated. The stitches are designed to fit the shape of the leaf with minimal compensation. Thank you, Gail! You can see the reflection of several petals which is stitched with a single thread. Tomorrow we will work on the borders.
We are currently at the EGA seminar in Asheville, NC. My first class is with Ann Strite-Kurz working on another of her animals, “Hedgie”. We did have prework to get in the correct shape of the animal as well as to have a foundation for the border design.
You can see how cute he is going to be! It was a small class, fortunately because the room is small with light provided by large windows and two table lamps from the hotel, but we do have our own private bathroom! Ann had us working on several areas to help us become accustomed to the stitches in areas where we may need to learn the best way to compensate. We also began the framework for the quills and the framework for the background. As the quills are blackwork, Ann explained the whys of the stitch sequence making learning the sequence much easier. Ann also showed us a much easier way to get to the lobby by going outside instead of using the interior stairs or elevator! Thank you, Ann!!
This past week I went up to Sturbridge, Massachusetts to the Winter Stitching Retreat run by Sue Donnelly. You could sign up for five days of stitching with great meals or less. As this was my first time, I decided to try two days. There were two other NJNA members stitching there this week, Ada D. and the mysterious Ellen S. They both spent all five days stitching. The retreat is held at the Publick House complex, a very old hotel.
The stitching room with two NJNA members and friends
There were about ten tables of stitchers working on a variety of embroidery related items, some huge, some small, some cross stitch, some needlepoint and other techniques as well. As you know we are always looking for new tools for our hobby. One woman was using a bead mat about the size of a 3 X 5 card held onto her canvas by a strong rare earth magnet. Nancy gave us all the information we need to buy one for ourselves!
Meals were an important part of this retreat! We had a choice of about three main courses and three desserts for each lunch and dinner which we selected about a week before the event. I enjoyed everything and heard nothing from others except how good it was. The fruit offering for dessert at each meal was always fresh and loaded with flavor and there was always a delicious choice from the inn bakery. The waitstaff was always on top of things and ready to respond to a request for another cup of tea or coffee. Conversation and laughter flowed at every meal.
Do we look happy?!!!
The accommodations were very good and available in several places at the Publick House, in the main building, next door in a newer building and about a block away in a motel like building. I stayed in the motel, walked down for breakfast and then drove down for class as we did not want to walk up the hill after evening stitching in the dark. The weather was beautiful so the walk and distance was not an issue.
Other inducements to come included a lovely reusable gift bag which included several design charts, a spool of Kreinik, a card of Weeks Dyeworks, a sample of lotion, Kreinik thread color chart, a button pin for the event for stitching. There was even a Victoria Sampler Christmas Cardinal stocking design with the thread/bead pack included. The hotel kept ice and ice water available at all times. Cookies were set out daily which I do not even try as I filled up at the meals. A nearby shop was the vendor with numerous cross stitch designs, a few accessories and a few Nancy’s Needle counted work designs. The owner would take orders for threads she carried and bring the threads in the following day for those requesting. Each evening after dinner about ten names were drawn for door prizes that had been donated primarily by companies such as Kreinik and 123stitch.
If you think you might be interested, check the website for Stitchers Hideaway which should have the information posted for next year by mid March.
On Friday I drove down to Alexandria, VA, with friend Barbara K. to see the classes that would be offered in Asheville next year as well as to go to the boutique and Merchandise Night. I was hoping that there would be classes for the 2017 EGA Seminar that I would like because I really wanted an excuse to return to Asheville. There are and I will register this month during early registration! To tempt you to log on to the EGA website–egausa.org–to see the classes, let me tell you a bit about some of them. Ann Strite-Kurz will be teaching the hedgehog Rosie has been talking about, Happy Hedgie, as well as Loon Tunes, that we have seen stitched by Rosie in a pilot class. Ann also has a one day class, Leaf Luster. Another teacher we are familiar with is Gail Stafford. She is teaching Fog in the Mountains which Jill took at the ANG seminar in Myrtle Beach last year. Gail’s second class is A Dusting of Snow showing a gazebo in the snow. Kurdy Biggs has a one day class of a three dimensional ornament and a four day class reminiscent of A Different View in that the canvas is covered with many different stitches that all fit together–how does she do that? Gail Sirna has two offerings, Rosalie’s Roof Garden and Lily of the Lake, both beautiful designs. Joan Thomasson has a one day class with another of her Santas, this one called Medieval Santa Ornament and a four day class, Bavarian Wedding. Janet Zickler Casey has a two day class stitching a “minaudiére” which by the class description is a small purse. Janet is also teaching another two day class with two of her Santas, Christmas Light Santa and Candy Swirls Santa. Jeanette Rees has a four day class, Feeding Frenzy. This is described as a mixed media class and is not as canvas. All of these classes as well as the rest of the offerings should be online this evening or tomorrow morning. Early registration runs through the end of November.
Asheville has other draws as well. The famous Biltmore Estate is located there as well as the well known Southern Highland Craft Guild located on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the outskirts of Asheville. If you are going to Asheville, the Grove Park Inn is well worth a visit just to see the lobby and walk around the public areas reading a bit of the history of the building. One of the women working the area showing next year’s classes told me that the day following the last day of classes there will be a total eclipse of the sun visible in this area of North Carolina making it worthwhile to stay an extra day before coming home. You can see I am excited about visiting Asheville next summer! If you are not currently a member of EGA check to see if there is a chapter near you!
This past weekend several of us from NJNA were invited to join the Monmouth Chapter EGA at their annual stitching retreat at a hotel in Voorhees, NJ. We went down on Friday afternoon stopping first at the Nimble Needle in Haddonfield where we browsed, found threads for projects, found new things we could not do without and generally had fun. Karen, the owner, is a delight to work with helping with finding things or suggesting stitches to use, or picking out the ideal thread. From there we went to the hotel about twenty minutes away. Monmouth Chapter had a large meeting room set aside for us from three on Friday to four on Sunday. You could find someone in there stitching from 7:30 in the morning until 11 at night!
From NJNA Tina finished four pieces that had been languishing at home waiting for the final few hours of work! Then she began working on another needlepoint piece that needed several days of work but did come out of the dark for work to begin again. Ada was thwarted in working on her Japanese work but had brought some other pieces and almost completed the background on a winter piece after receiving suggestions for a good stitch from others gathered around. She also completed the stitching of another small piece. And I completed the stitching I needed to do for a piece being offered at Friends of Counted Thread, began Bali Hai unsuccessfully and then worked on Sisters from seminar with very good results.
It was so much fun to see what others had brought to stitch with them. One woman had been in Linda’s class from the previous weekend and was working on that. Another brought a Ton Mineri piece that she had set aside for several years and can now see the end in sight. An interesting bit was that a section had been stitched with a plated silver thread which had tarnished in the intervening years. It would have been impossible to remove or clean but outlining the section in a dark thread did make that section show up, rather than recede into the piece. One woman made a beaded bracelet before moving on to needlepoint. A cute York Peppermint Patty ornament was completed and the next, a Hershey bar was begun. Others made great advances on a single piece of cross stitch or needlepoint or knitting or moved from one piece to another. But stitching with others gave us companionship, many laughs, suggestions or encouragement when needed. of course, there was food involved with many trees available for snacking or dessert all day. All in all a wonderful weekend!
On the way home from the ANG seminar in New Orleans, the Department of Transportaion inspected my luggage that I had checked. Where did I find the information sheet telling me that they had checked my suitcase? It was in the ziplock bag that held my frame weight! (It originally was a long heavy weight that I had made for my mom to hold her book open while she was reading at lunch. It contains sand as the weight which is why I keep in a plastic bag). I mentioned that today while I was stitching with friends. One of these women told me that several years ago Debbie Stiehler told her class that at the top of her suitcase she includes a printed sheet saying that she is traveling to a needlework event and she has her tools packed in her luggage and then includes a list of what she has packed. She began doing this because her luggage was often inspected. When you think about it, here we are with several pairs of scissors, pointy things we call laying tools, numerous needles strong magnets and, of course, a frame weight. I think I will be doing this in the future as well!
Did you think I made a mistake? Yes, this is my second class with Nancy at this seminar as these were my two favorite pieces of the offerings that I saw last year. Nancy told us a story of visiting her best childhood friend, who had remained a lifelong friend, a few years ago in Iowa, half a continent away from where Nancy lived. While seeing her friend, they visited the friend’s sister where Nancy saw a metal wall sculpture of interlocking squares that she liked. A photo of this led her to the eventual design of this piece. The name comes from the association of her friend, the photo at the friend’s sister’s home and Nancy’s feeling that her best friend was like a sister to her. I like the story behind this beautiful design.
This piece of peach, aqua, and grey blocks is interesting as you will eventually see because all the small units are the same in each block but rotated. We learned all but one component of the block that is foremost in the design today so we can transfer that knowledge to the remaining blocks when we return home.
Each section has beads that will be added and the missing block on the right will be just beads and stitched when we are fresh tomorrow morning. I opted to wait until I am home to stitch the beads in the other sections. Doesn’t this look like a pieced quilt block? Nancy explained that this was her concept of the overall blocks, so there are no borders within the block but there is a Kreinik double border around it. This block has two shades of peach as well as a Kreinik and a variety of beads coming. I am looking forward to more stitching on it tomorrow.