Retreating to Quilt

Tucked away in the small North Carolina town of Browns Summit, 15 miles north of Greensboro, straddling both the Guilford and Rockingham County lines, lies Haw River State Park.  Covering over 1,400 acres, this is North Carolina’s newest state park.  It has hiking trails, a lake, cabins, and all the other amenities most state parks have.  The center of the park is the Summit.

The Summit Conference Center

The Summit once was owned by the Episcopal Diocese.  The state purchased the Summit and 300 acres of land as its initial development.  The Summit Conference Center and lodge rooms are central to this blog because they host my guild’s Fall Quilt Retreat.  We sew and have meals in the conference center and sleep in the lodge rooms.  The High Point Quilt Guild has held this retreat every year since 2012, except for 2020 and 2021.  COVID prevented anything from happening in 2020.  We thought 2021 was a go until Tropical Storm Wanda made her presence felt.  We had just pulled up and unloaded when the power went out.  None of us were too happy about returning home less than a few hours after we arrived, but with Duke Power making no promises about when the lines would be humming again, we had no choice. 

This year, we had a total of 24 quilters gathered for four days, and three nights of quilting.  Just quilting.  The park takes care of everything else, including meals.  Which are delicious, as the park has a chef on staff. 

When the High Point Quilt Guild formed in 2012, one of the first activities it wanted to undertake was a quilt retreat.  However, we wanted the retreat itself, as well as the location of the retreat, to fit certain qualifications.  First, we wanted it to be affordable.  Second, because many of our members were still employed full-time, we wanted a location which didn’t take hours to get to, since some members would have to come after they got off work.  And third, it needed to be handicapped accessible as some of our members used walkers and others had knee and hip replacements.  Plus, if the location was handicapped accessible, that meant there were no stairs – no hauling your sewing machine up and down the steps.  Haw River State Park met all these requirements.  From January until April of every year, the retreat registration is open only to guild members.  After April 1, we open registration up to other quilters. 

It’s no secret I love this quilt retreat.  For me it’s not only four days of quilting, but also four days of not being accessible by phone.  It’s not sitting in front of a computer for hours dealing with numbers.  It’s four days of being with close friends who have the same passion as I do.  It’s so many creative minds melding in one spot.  I come away refreshed and re-invigorated about my craft.  And if it’s true that laughter is the best medicine, I come away healed.  I laugh so much I nearly pee myself.  

I packed several projects – I always pack more than I get around to working on, but I’d rather have that problem than be sitting there with nothing to do because I got it all done.  However, there were three projects I wanted to complete if nothing else got finished:  My temperature birds, my reverse applique quilt, and the hexie quilts.  I took my temperature birds with me.  I was behind on three of them but got caught up the first day.  They all were paper pieced and sewed onto the appropriate columns.

I make a bird a week, and it’s actually kind of nerve wracking to know I have fewer than 10 birds left – meaning there’s fewer than 10 weeks left in 2023!

Couple of things about these birds. First, yes, they’re paper pieced. Second, North Carolina autumns are a toss of the dice. The top feathers on the wing represent the highs of the week and the bottom feathers the lows. You can tell our temperatures vary wildly in the fall. Shorts one day, jeans the next. I don’t pack away my summer clothes until December.

For those of you who remember this blog:, you know I discussed making two quilts for my children.  My mother hand pieced hexie flowers during the pandemic shut down.  She handed those off to me, and I had to design a quilt highlighting these wonderful blocks.  These are the result of the blog:

I still don’t think there’s a more perfect gray to set these hexies off than Robert Kauffman’s da Vinci line.

My Reverse Applique Quilt was completely quilted prior to retreat.  However, at retreat, the binding was made and sewed on, as well as a hanging sleeve and label. 

In retrospect, I wish I would have chosen another color other than that beautiful Robin Egg blue. I love the color, but I think it blends in too much with the background fabric.

If you want to make your quilt sound all fancy, pick a color and look up its Latin name. Caeruleum is Latin for blue.
I quilted the life out of this quilt. I wanted the background to recede as much as possible so the blue would “poof” more. I quilted this on my Janome M7 Continental, no rulers, all free hand. I’m kind of proud of that.

I didn’t lay a finger on the other projects because this year’s retreat was … different.  At least for me.

The other nine prior retreats seemed to be, well, driven, for lack of a better word.  Get there as early as possible.  Get set up.  Then tear through your to do list as hard and fast as you can.  This year was softer.  Comforting.  Sure, I know we all got plenty done, but there also was lots of talking and fellowshipping.  Not just about quilts, but about what was going on in our lives.  Sharing.  Extending compassion and sympathy.  Two of our members recently lost their fathers.  Several of us are now dealing with aging parents.  A couple were new to widowhood. 

Quilters taking care of quilters as only quilters can. 

We pulled out of the parking lot after lunch on Sunday.  I left to the sound of women laughing and looking forward to next year.  Good-byes and “I’ll see you soons.”  Exchanges of email and phone numbers.  With my heart warmed and my soul filled, we left out of the park and headed home, only to count down the days until next year.

Every quilter really needs a quilt retreat like this in their life. Every woman needs a group of women friends like those I quilt with.

Until next week, Remember the Details Make the Difference!

Love and Stitches,


PS — Bonus Pic. I finished this before retreat. It’s from the pattern Wild Tulips by Dawn Heese. This is probably the most “folk art” quilt I’ve ever made. I tend to go for quilts with a bit more precision. Folk Art quilts are very forgiving and part of their charm is their “un-precision.” I used the freezer paper method of applique with this and truly enjoyed every stitch.

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