I am just back from my second retreat to Emilie’s Quilt Haus in Stonewall, Texas. These retreats are planned for the Graceful Hearts Quilters of Richland Springs by our friend Debbie Phelan. I would not be surprised if your imagination has already conjured up a vision of a bunch of “mature,” dignified, maybe somewhat boring women sitting around a quilt frame conducting an old-fashioned quilting bee. If this is true of your imagination, tell it that it is dead wrong. While it is true that the attendants were all mature women, none of us are boring, no one was being dignified, and there was not a quilt frame in sight!
When we go to Emilie’s, we each take a sewing machine and a carload of quilting materials, unfinished projects, various sewing tools, and a ton of good things to eat and drink. We pile the food on the dining table and the rest of our things go to our respective workstations around the main room. The work and the fun commence immediately.
I brought some UFOs, which in quilter terminology stands for UnFinished Object. Another friend brought a stack of t-shirts from various events to make a t-shirt quilt. Another friend was a first-time quilter, so she brought a kit to make a quilted wall-hanging for her sister. Most everyone else was like me, bringing UFOs to convert to finished or at least closer-to-finished projects.
As we work, we talk, of course. We consult each other on quilting dilemmas and life dilemmas. We share various experiences—some hilariously funny and some heartbreaking. We laugh and we cry, and we laugh until we cry. We enjoy each other’s cooking and we enjoy the cooking of our hosts, Kay and Jack Huffman. We drink lots of coffee, which leads to staying up way too late. We frequently admire the view across the entirety of the Pedernales Valley and enjoy watching the beautiful sunrises.
For a variety of reasons, I have never had the networks of girlfriends that many women have. I read those poems and such extolling the benefits of girlfriends and I just scratch my head in puzzlement. But my quilter friends are making a girlfriend out of me. There is nothing like spending a few days with a group of like-minded women working and playing together…and eating and laughing!