Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Empty Spools at Asilomar

Isn't this the most gorgeous view?

This is what I woke up to on the Sunday morning before heading to Asilomar and my first quilting retreat with Empty Spools.  I say first because there will be many.  My friend, Cindy, and I drove down together from her grandparents' house in Santa Cruz.  Their house was built in the late 40's as a "party house." The views are all of Montery Bay; directly across is Fort Ord and a bit to the north of that is Monterey.  The interior of the house is very much of that period.  It is "U" shaped with a concrete courtyard in the middle of the "U."  There is a bar are in the dining room that can be opened to the courtyard and a huge wall that can be lifted to open up the living room to the courtyard as well.  It was terrific to be able to stay there.

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, February 20, and was able to meet up with another good friend for dinner.  She took me for the most excellent Italian meal I've had in quite some time. Then we went to her house and played "blind girls sewing" while we set up her new sewing machine.  She'd left her glasses in the car, so I'd put mine on, show her something, then she'd take them, put them on, and repeat it.  Good thing no one was watching!

Sunday morning we were off for Asilomar and Empty Spools.  Cindy and I had signed up to take Janet Fogg's class.  I have loved her style ever since seeing her "Kitty Corner" quilt at Pacific International Quilt Festival a few years ago.  There were 15 people in our class and we went through the entire process of creating a quilt using her methods.  It was quite an undertaking; mine won't be done for quite some time!

Below is a picture of what our room looked like.  My sister, Barbara, met us at Asilomar and she and I roomed together.  Cindy stayed in the next room over. 

This is only one of the beautiful view we saw when walking the grounds. Its a very peaceful place and very relaxing. 

Although hard to imagine from this picture, this will eventually be a quilt featuring Emma.  The process is so complex that in four full days, I was only able to get her head put together.  Her mane is still in pattern pieces.  This photo shows the colors being auditioned before sewing.  Some have been changed.  If you enlarge the picture, you can see the diagram better.  The large areas coming from the top of her body will be the sky in dark purple to blue batiks.  Below her, the grass that she's running across, will be the block called "Rite of Spring" -- seemed appropriate. On her butt is the center of the Rite of Spring block which will be done in her body colors, but the block will shine through.  At least, it will if I do it right...

This was the 25th Anniversary for Empty Spools at Asilomar.  In honor of that, they asked every teacher who had ever taught there to contribute a block befitting the occasion.  The blocks were then assembled into six quilts.  Each attendee got to put their name in the hat for an opportunity to take one of the quilts home.  On the last night the lucky winner was drawn and was actually a woman that was also in Janet's class--it almost felt like we had all won.  She won't get to take her quilt home until the sessions are over so that all can enjoy them.  During the last session, all the names will go back in the hat for one final quilt.  Chances of my winning that are only slightly better than my winning the lotto; I don't play the lotto. year.  I had to beg my sister and Cindy to come to Asilomar.  When my sister finally decided to come, she didn't want to take the same class as me.  That was disappointing, but then Cindy decided to come and she wanted to take Janet's class as well.  After the first full day of class, the two of them were already planning for next year.  I couldn't believe it.  The plan for next year is that we're all going to take Sally Collins' class.  Sally is incredibly nice and the most precise quilter in the world and hopefully, when I'm done with her class, my blocks that are supposed to be 10 1/2 for a 10" finished block will actually be 10 1/2"--wouldn't that be special??

Below is just one of Sally's quilts:


  1. I took the maching quilting class from Cindy Needham. I like to quilt my own quilts after the piecing, but have had no formal instruction on how to do quilt. I did not know where to start, basically. I do not have room in my house for a long arm nor do I want the expense. Dort has spent a fortune; she even had to add a building to house the monster. I learned so much from Cindy Needham and am now much more confident to machine quilt on my domestic machine. Barbara Cavanagh, Dort's big sister

  2. Oh, now, come on-the room was necessary because of our current "house guest." And you'll hurt Lily's feelings, calling her a monster!


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