Retreating

….two long weekends in row.  It was pretty wonderful to have these days away from the pull of house and garden chores, and even the decision  about how to spend my creative time.  While both retreats had themes–one was weaving and the other was bobbin lace–we had the option to bring whatever project we wanted.  Whatever my choice, I’d then have the ability to focus on that one thing for three days at the first retreat and four days at the next.

The first retreat took place in a small town in northwestern Connecticut.  It was a woodland setting that made me think we’d gone deep into some forest, when in actuality we were on a large property at the end of a couple of mostly residential roads.  This retreat took place at an Episcopalian center called Camp Washington.  The photos on my phone tell me I was in Lakeside, Connecticut, but my google maps directions took me to the little town of Morris.

There were seven of us, so we were quite an intimate group.  We stayed and worked in the smaller lodge that is nestled into the woods across the street from the larger campus shown in the photo above.

The main room is where we worked and ate and gathered together in the evenings for conversation. There is a dining table off the right of the photo, and in the evenings we pulled the couches closer together to have wine and camaraderie before dinner arrived.  All the looms are spread out behind me and to each side (so not in the frame) to make use of the great light coming in a wall of large windows.  Note that balcony upstairs! — a great place to enjoy watching the activity!

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Our chef Ben delivered meals to us three times a day, and they were way beyond what you’d expect to get at a retreat center.  Take a look at this–grilled shrimp and grilled zucchini.  To the right is grilled polenta topped with pesto and grilled peppers and onions.  YUM!

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It was a great way to kick off the weekend! (Now you can see a bit of our equipment set up in front of the windows in the background.)

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Here’s Ben setting out the goodies. He took such good care of us all weekend.

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Even breakfasts were a large spread.  This was Mother’s Day brunch.
Thank you, Ben!

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And lest you think we did nothing but hang out and eat, I did manage to get one photo of progress on a loom.  This Marjie’s project, a multi-colored warp in cottolin with a twill design that represents fish scales.

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I was so busy working on my Robert Frost text that I neglected to take photos of the work others were doing.  Clare and Julia were working on braids on their takadai, and the other three women were weaving on floor looms.

Here is my progress.  Good stuff/bad stuff.  I’m disappointed about the rippling in the area of the ‘F and A’ of fact, but I got control of it by the end of the word.  Hopefully it will steam out when it’s off the loom.  I am happy with the the ‘T and H’ of the next word…which is the.  I am enjoying the process of weaving this simple phrase that’s so poignant. I’m not telling what it is.  If you love Robert Frost’s work, you already know where this is headed.

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After getting home late on Sunday of Mother’s Day, I had a busy three days to unpack, do some chores, and welcome Bob home from his long voyage from Antigua back to the Connecticut River!  Then Thursday morning I hit the road again, this time with my friend Janet–off to spend four days doing bobbin lace north of Boston.

This was a much bigger gathering, although I can’t tell you how many of us were there.  We were at a new retreat location this year–Rolling Ridge retreat center in North Andover, Massachusetts.  It was quite a different setting than the previous weekend!  This is a Gilded Age mansion on a large property near a lake.

I couldn’t get a shot with the entire place in the frame!  We stayed in the larger section on the left.  There was a round courtyard to drive in to unload our stuff.

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Happy arrivals to the retreat!

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The dining room with beautiful views into the woods near the lake.  Each table had a vase of flowering branches of dogwood and appleblossoms.  The food was far better than standard institutional fare.  Lucky!

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My room was at the top of the main staircase–so grandiose! My actual room, not so grand!–but plenty comfortable.

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What did I work on during the four days?  I tried my hand at a Torchon edging.  This is my beginning attempt at a cloth stitch trail with a rose ground filling.

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I learned such a lot over the weekend, under the guidance of Holly VanSciver.  For one thing you may notice that I did not start at the point suggested in the background pricking. There are several new techniques for me in this pattern.  The best thing I gained was a better understanding of Torchon in general so that I can make my own decisions about how to do the lace.

The last dinner of each retreat is a fancy affair where those of us from Connecticut wear our tiaras and our lace sashes. We hope this will eventually impress the rest of the New England participants to follow our lead in future years.  So far, they resist!  This year the dinner happened to occur as the newly married royal couple, Harry and Meghan, were attending their evening bridal reception. Let it be known that a number of us rose at 5 am that morning to watch the wedding event live on a big screen in the conference room!

We have a man in our lace group, and he needed something more appropriate than a tiara. Those are printed lace panels on his shirt. We do love to get in the spirit at this dinner each year!

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I certainly had a great time over the past two weekends!  And now it’s Memorial Day weekend, and Bob and I are home together to celebrate. The gardens are calling!

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