Right now, you’re probably attached to your sewing machine, whipping out gifts for those you love. It’s one of the best parts of sewing! But when that last quilt or pin cushion or pouch is done, take a moment to dream about what you might like to find in your stocking this year. Chances are, a very special retreat or workshop is high on your list.
The big trick with participating in a retreat or workshop is planning ahead. Mark it on your calendar and treat it as important. Set aside vacation days for it. If you to have to put money down to participate, all the better—a financial commitment will help you keep your promise to take time for creativity and fun. And planning ahead brings double the pleasure—you get time to anticipate the event, as well as participate in it.
The most obvious place to look for a workshop or retreat is likely the closest—your local quilt shop. Some shops bring in “celebrity” teachers, and those are often announced ahead of time, making it easy to plan. One such shop is Creations, in Kerrville, Texas, which has its instructors lined up for 2019 and listed on their home page (including Moda’s own Debbie Maddy, Sept. 12 through 15, 2019). Check out shops near you, or those you may have read about in quilt magazines, or the Featured Shops on this blog.
Quilt guilds also sponsor big-name teachers and typically have their schedules planned a year ahead. Check with your local guild, along with other guilds in the region.
If there are particular teachers you’d love to learn from, visit their websites. Many, like Zen Chic’s Brigitte Heitland, have their upcoming teaching and events listed on their sites. (Norway in March anyone?)
Another great place to take classes and see lots of quilts are at shows and expos. Maybe this is the year you’ll finally make it to Houston for Quilt Festival. Or to Quilt Week in Paducah or Road to California or Quilt Con in Nashville or Madison Quilt Expo or Pacific International Quilt Festival or World Quilt Florida . Missouri Star Quilt Company offers retreats and events.Moda and Martingale are co-hosting Quiltstock next summer, but alas, it’s sold out.
You might also check out retreats at long-time arts centers like the Madeline Island School of the Arts in Wisconsin, Empty Spools at Asilomar in California, or try art quilting with Nancy Crow in Ohio.
Want to go a little (or a lot) farther afield? Check out the French General’s week in France in July. And I was going to mention Christopher Wilson-Tate’s quilting getaway to Spain with Deb Roberts of Handcrafted Retreats, but it’s sold out! So the lesson is, don’t wait too long to sign up.
While you might have a particular technique you want to learn or a teacher you want to work with, it’s also possible that learning something completely new could jump-start your quilty creativity. Maybe bookbinding or knitting or throwing pots will help you think about quilting in a whole new way. (Ruby Star Society’s Alexia Abegg sews AND throws pots—you can see them on her Instagram feed.) Peruse the classes that could provide a new perspective at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina and through Squam Art Workshop in New Hampshire. You can watch their lovely, crafty video here—their upcoming classes will be online starting Dec. 10.
At any time of year, but especially now, it’s easy to think of others. That’s important, of course, but so are you. Make this the year you add a creative opportunity to your holiday wish list—you won’t regret it.
This retreats and workshops mentioned here are just the tip of the (crafty) iceberg, so if you know of others, please share them in the comments. We’d love to hear!