I’m just back from the 9th annual Needle Arts Mystery Retreat weekend. This fun retreat is a collaboration with my partners, Linda Reinmiller, Patricia Hartman and Mary Knapp. The four of us invite stitchers to join us every July for a counted canvas project that we’ve designed together, but the stitchers don’t see the project until they arrive. On Wednesday we have the big “reveal” and the stitchers get to see what they’ll be working on for the next 2 and 1/2 days. The reveal party is always lots of fun, when we welcome back the regulars and meet the first-timers who are brave enough to join in!
This year we met in Arlington, TX, and 32 ladies brought their stitching frames, tools and other essentials for a great time. It’s not all work; we planned a shop visit as well! The Needleworkx of Plano stayed open late for us, and we did our best to stimulate the economy of Texas. Several of our students also made time to visit other needlework shops in the area as they had time. We were right across the street from Six Flags over Texas, perfect for our roller coaster enthusiast student, and also handy to The Ballpark for the Rangers game, perfect for another one of our students.
The mystery retreat is a bit different from other stitching retreats. The four teachers select a different color way, and the students make their choice from the four color ways, posted on the Needle Arts Mystery Retreat website (www.needleartsmysteryretreat.com). Prework is sent out around June 1, so the students get a hint of the general outline, but have no clue of what will go in the outline until the Wednesday night reveal. This process has worked well for the last 9 years.
In fact, the designers don’t design together either. We each design our part of the project, then send our design to the other teachers to be stitched in each color way. It’s always amazing that the individual designs contribute to a cohesive whole, even though one designer is in Oregon, two are in Ohio, and I am in Arkansas. We each have our own section to design, then collaborate on a fifth section. This year the fifth section actually was four corners. One of us begins the design, then passes it to the next, and so on. The finished project reflects our individual design esthetics, but complements the other designs. We’re always pleased and delighted each year with the finish!
Next year we’ll celebrate our 10th anniversary. We’ve selected our general outline and have begun the design process, and are already pulling threads. Registration will open in January. Even though we’ve only just finished this year’s retreat, I’m already looking forward to next year! The students are friends, some of them old friends we see year after year, and the other designers are my partners. The retreat is always the highlight of the summer for me, not too much work, more like a family reunion. It always reminds me why stitching is such a joy.