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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More on the Michigan Retreat

View from the veranda

Hello again! My heart is still in Michigan, but my head (with it's cold) is still in Kansas. It sure seems strange that we aren't on the road again.

White Birch Lodge is such a laid back place! I loved it so much, I am trying to talk Hubby into vacationing there next fall instead of Colorado. He is willing to try a new place, but he's still thinking about it!

When Carolyn and I arrived it was drizzly raining, but not enough for an umbrella. We drove all over the place, visited Traverse City, and then we grocery shopped. We got to Elk Rapids downtown and had lunch. It was so funny because whenever we asked for directions they always began at THE traffic light.

The Lodge has several different accommodations - everything from single rooms with shared baths in the Lodge as well as double/triple rooms with a private bath, to townhouses and condos. Our room was in the upstairs area (I believe a former attic), with great views on two sides of the room out to the lake/bay. There's also wonderful picnic or sitting areas along side the water, where we had lunch and dinner whenever we could.
Quiltgranny and Carolyn

The sewing room was also in the Lodge where I believe they serve meals in season. It had wonderfully large windows open to a veranda with lots of chairs, and views of the water. It was heaven! We had full access to the kitchen, located off the sewing area, with a microwave and a walk-in refrigerator, so that made snacks and breakfasts easy, too.

Since we arrived on Sunday, and the rest of the 2nd week campers didn't arrive until Tuesday, we had the run of the place to ourselves. That was also pretty terrific, with no pressure on where to sit, what to do, or where to go.

I've been waiting to post more about my retreat with Gwen and friends until I could get pictures arranged and some other responsibilities put away. First of all, I won't be showing any pictures of other people's project except for Carolyn and mine. I failed to get permission from folks, and the one or two that I did get permission, I can't remember. So, to be on the safe side, I'll just describe some of them for you. I DO like to honor those quilters who prefer to "save" their projects for other venues.

With introductions on the first night, we found that about 30% of class names were "Carol", in some form: Carole, Carol, Carolyn. So if you wanted to ask someone a question, and didn't know their name, you could just say "Carol" and have a pretty good chance you were right. I can't tell you how many times I heard "Carol?", even when they were calling to ME! LOL! We also found that when someone lives in Michigan, they show you where they live on their hand because the state is shaped like a mitten. We got quite a few laughs from that one.

Can you see which one isn't the same? Miss Kitty on the left is from Kentucky!

Here's a couple of shots of our work area. Isn't it nice and spacious? Most of us had an entire table to ourselves. I think only a couple of people shared a table amongst them.

I set to work making strada on Sunday and Monday since I hadn't brought any with me. I think it was Wednesday when Gwen showed us the different ways to use it. If you have the new book by Freddy and Gwen, look at the different quilts to see how many different uses there are for strada. A very versatile piece of "made fabric"! Here are the 2nd weeker Strada Queens!
We had a great time making parts, and playing on the design wall. I started out making a lot of parts in Colorado, and continued making parts the entire time I was there. I can't remember if I mentioned that one of the big things I learned was that I like making the filler parts more than the actual "focus" blocks. That's why my parts are still parts, and many others in the class had completed tops by the end of the week. I still need to make more focus blocks, but just haven't had the time or energy to do them just yet!

We learned a few easy ways of making the setting squares to put blocks on point. I love the way Gwen teaches you just using a piece of paper and a pencil. Something my brain can take home and do again on my own!

Now, let's see, what did other people do with their parts? Several used houses as their focus points. One gal used great novelty fabrics and made a great sort of strippy quilt with all of her family members and her pets in the doors. Another made a bright and fanciful wild large log cabin that put me in the mind of Gee's Bend quilts, only using modern bright fabrics. I was surprised to see how many people used batiks and hand dyes for beautiful, beautiful constructions of shapes and eye catching designs. Another used pre-printed squares of "woman's work" and used all the parts around them as setting spacers. There were SO MANY ideas that worked, it's hard to describe them all. What I liked most was the versatility of the parts. They could either work alone, or in addition to other pieces.

Here's another tip! Carol (who else?) had this great idea for organizing strips:
Here's my traveling buddy, Carolyn's quilt top:The houses are paper pieced, but the rest are all parts. This is a big step away from the traditional colors, and pattern guided quilt tops she makes. I love it!

Here's yet another variation on my parts. Who knows how this will end?

And last, I couldn't believe that the water was warm in September, so I just had to try it. It's really quite nice!

As you can tell, this was a marvelous week away! Gwen brought lots of her quilts, and we could pore over them whenever we wanted to for ideas. The show and tell was fabulous, and the campers were all so wonderful! Even though the majority of them had been going to this same second week retreat since Beaver Island times for ever so long, they all made us newcomers feel welcome. This definitely is on my schedule for next year, second week in September again. Baskets are the focus for next year. Maybe then I'll have a top done - but then, again, maybe not. The retreat is what I will be going for! Sewing might just have to come in a close second!

Next post: A not so happy tale of a not so happy workshop upon returning from Michigan.


Nellie Bass Durand said...

It all sounds so wonderful! Glad you like Michigan ... the lake is truly amazing.

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

Thanks for this very detailed and interesting report. The pictures were terrific! I especially like your zig-zags . . . .

Tonya R said...

Wow, so much fun. You know you can make a quilt with just the parts - doesn't have to have any focus blocks. Make a strippy or something.

Darcie said...

It's been great catching up with your goings-on, Sharon! You've taken many terrific pictures for us...thanks for sharing!

Love your pretty pink toes in the lake. Looks like an art quilt to me!!! (hint,hint)

Dawn said...

Oh my gosh! It looks wonderful! OOOO and baskets next year! That sounds fun! The lodge area is gorgeous! Wow, your right, I would love to go vacation there!

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Fun, fun! It was fun to check out the link for the place you stayed at too! I am from Cape Cod where you show where you live by hooking your arm up like a muscle man and pointing to the area you live! And me, well, I like making parts too! The challenge for me is to get all those parts sewn into a top! Thanks for sharing - it is wonderful to "go" to retreat through others posts - right now I would never ever leave my little 3 year old, but that's just because right now I am his hero - the day will come when that will change, but right now I am enjoying every minute of it!



Anonymous said...

hi sharon - thanks for posting your experience - i am 1 of the california gals that was there with you - hope to see you again next year - catherine

Sarah said...

Sounds like you had a great trip! Looking forward to seeing more of your parts!


DubiQuilts said...


I live in Illinois and last summer I spent a week in Torch Lake, just north of Elk Rapids. I did leave my heart Michigan and hope to reclaim it when I retire Torch Lake or Elk Rapids. I did go to the quilt shop in Elk Rapids and purchased coca cola fabric. I also fell in love with Charlevoix.

Please let me know more about the retreat for next year. I would love to go and maybe never leave.

Wendy said...

Fun to read your experience in northern Michigan. My college summers were spent counseling at Interlochen Music Camp near Traverse City, and that's always been a favorite area of the state to me. How was the mosquito population? LOL!
Love the "parts department" projects. So nice to read about your great week of fun and friendly companionship.

cher said...

sounds like heaven on earth to me-all your parts are wonderful-as were all the others you shared-Carolyn's turned out fabulous. thanks so much for all the photos and wonderful sharing of your time away.

disa said...