My early lockdown and the retreat that never was.

Earlier this year when Covid was this rather strange and worrying virus but would surely be contained on the other side of the world…. I got that one wrong….I was planning to go off on a sewing retreat. My bag was packed, supplies gathered with just a few more to pull together and some hard decision-making about what to take and what to leave when it came to fabric. I had also finished most of my swap items which again had been safely packed away. But then the weekend before the retreat at Folly Farm pictured above with the Threadhouse team of Jo Avery and Karen Lewis the phone rang at two in the morning.

You know a phone call at that time is never going to be good news, at best it’s a wrong number. I answered it to find out that my son had broken his humerus just above the elbow while arm wrestling! They had been killing time before some key boxing match which started at 5am and in fact only lasted 45 seconds! The pointlessness of male sporting events never ceases to amaze me.

There’s no point in taking this sort of news anything other than this reasonably calmly but I could see all my plans for that weekend, the weeks ahead and of course the retreat fading away. But it was much worse for my son, apart from being in a lot of pain, he had to be settled downstairs because it was the only seat we had in the house where he could remain upright and allow his broken arm to hang down. He does a lot of weightlifting and it was generally agreed that the nursing staff had never had to do a cast quite as big as the one on his upper arm! But that of course was quite painful because of the sheer weight of it. But to cut a long story 8 weeks in and the verdict was the bones were not healing and he had to have an operation to bolt everything together! In effect our lockdown started early!

Although I couldn’t go to the retreat I wanted to ensure at least the swap items got there. The ones that were finished at least.

With the name badge I always struggle here as I’m not that good at quilting in miniature. It didn’t help that the lady I was making it for isn’t on Instagram so I had no real idea of what her tastes were. So I rather boringly went with the design and I used a couple of years ago of paper pieced flying geese. I chose liberty on the basis that most quilters are fans of it.

I was also room sharing with a couple of long-standing retreat friends Kate and Marianne. We’ve always swapped smaller items. This was an entirely selfish make of mine. I’d had the Tub family pattern for some time and had seen some beautiful ones on Instagram and I was itching to make one.

For Kate it was a pink confection with Amy Simibaldi fabrics which I know she likes.

Marianne is a bit more tricky. She tends to like bright strong colours but I don’t know what would suit her particular home. In the end I chose cotton linen mix with the word Maker on it which is very much what Marianne is. She both knits and sews and makes a lot of beautiful crafted items particularly accessories. I chose a screen print of Karen Lewis, who is one of the tutors on the retreat.

It was very touching to receive a large package of items kindly brought back from the retreat by Mary who lives pretty much around the corner from me! I received this lovely gifts from Kate and Marianne.

The needle case is Kate’s and she must be psychic because I am for ever casting around for needles at some crucial moment as a child about to leave the house with a button needing repairing or a tear or whatever. It’s already filled with needles!

Marianne made this pod which is a well-known design but by reputation quite tricksy because it’s got this curved pod like bottom. It’s beautiful I will be very useful. It’s even got a special cat fabric in the right colour.

I also received in the post this time the most beautiful pouch, a Angela Hoey design, from Charlotte. It brought home to me what I’d missed at the retreat however because Charlotte is somebody I have emailed and chatted to in the virtual sewing world many many times and I was looking forward to meeting her in the flesh but it was not to be.

She had used denim and then beautifully quilted it for decorative effect. And yes there were also cats in some of the fabric choices. It is what I like most in a pouch study with some structure so very practical but also beautiful and in this case personalised for which I’m very grateful.

One of the highlights of the retreat is the Saturday evening prize draw. Everyone gets a prize gifted by a sponsor. Well I think I must’ve got one star prizes as it was a selection of sewing items from Beyond Measure. This small business which is mostly online is run by Grace who I’ve met a number of times now. Well what a grand selection. Indeed the items are way better than my standard of sewing deserves! Here are a few to show you…

Obviously retreats have had to be abandoned but at least this one snooked in before the Covid restrictions. I just couldn’t be there to enjoy it! But in the scheme of things so many plans have have to be unmade and rethought. So many changes but at least I had some time, at least initially, for some creativity and I must get on and capture that and also that very unusual phase of strict lockdown.

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