Lakeside sewing

One of the wonderful connections I've made through my writing is with Mary Lou Weidman. I "met" her when I interviewed her for American Patchwork and Quilting nearly four years ago and we've walked the aisles of Quilt Market together. 

Kathy and Mary Lou
In addition, last January I took a class from her at John C. Campbell in North Carolina. Lots of great opportunities have come my way thanks to Mary Lou. This past week another one took place—a sewing retreat at Zephyr Cove on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

There were 15 of us from around the U.S.—most from the West Coast, but there were two Texans and a Georgian. Everyone had taken a class from Mary Lou at some point, many at the Asilomar Empty Spools seminars

Some folks brought a Mary Lou-style story quilt to work on, while others brought UFOs or other projects they had in the works. 

Candy's story quilt about her mom
I only knew five of the people and really enjoyed getting to know the rest. The location was fantastic—a light-filled sewing room with views of Lake Tahoe right out the window—and the company was creative and fun-loving. 

Cherise's incredible pineapple quilt
There was lots of laughter and lots of sharing of techniques, design ideas, and fabric. (Of course we had to buy some fabric, too. There's a terrific little shop with a varied and sizable inventory that some people hit more than once.) 

Kathy's Hoochy Mama flowers

Lynne stitches her family quilt
Some of us had gathered in Lake Tahoe previously and already had the required Red Hut clothing. After a Red Hut breakfast one morning several of the rest of us got this year's Red Hut sweatshirt. We also had the opportunity to peruse the blown glass jewelry made by Andrea King and several of us took something home. She even took orders and brought them to us a little more than 24 hours later.

Nancy and her new necklace
I learned a tremendous amount simply by seeing what other people were doing.

 I think I mentioned that my French Roses quilt took a turn for the better when I laid out my blocks at the end of the first night and someone casually mentioned that I might think about a sashing. Before I knew it people were bringing over fabrics to audition and then someone suggested keystones. I'm so happy with the way it turned out—the black and white lifted it from being fine to giving it a bit of sophistication. The border is still in the works and only about half done. 

I also learned wonky Monkey Wrench blocks from Mel and Deb, who were cranking out cowboy and polka dot blocks, respectively. Everyone's work was different and inspiring in its own way. 

Though I went through travel hell on either end of the week, the time I had in between made it all worthwhile. Now, I'm hoping that I've built up some good travel karma for my next two trips—Quilt Market this coming weekend and the New York Marathon the week after. 

Apologies for the wonkiness of this post...the quilt blocks are supposed to be wonky, not the blog layout!