My Progress so Far . . .

I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made so far at Koosa Mountain Lodge.  We’ve been working hard to improve the retreat experience for our guests.  The new patio furniture has all arrived and looks amazing, I’m so excited to build my first fire in the new firepit.  It’s been a little cold and windy for a fire. 

I’ve started going through seed and plant catalogs looking for just the right flowers and vegetables to plant this spring.  We got a late start last year and our flower beds and gardens weren’t what I’d like them to be.  My goal is to get the plants in the ground before the pollen forces me inside!

My new longarm machine has been getting a lot of use.  I have one client who dropped off 5 quilts for me to quilt for her! And they are all beautiful.  One thing I love about longarm quilting for others is that I get to see so many different beautiful quilts.  It’s also a lot of fun picking out just the right quilting motif for each quilt.

One fun thing I’ve decided to do each quarter is to build a basket of quilting related items, coupons or gift certificates to local businesses, and other favorite items of mine.  I will draw a name from my mailing list to select the recipient of the gift basket each quarter.  So, make sure you are signed up for my mailing list for a chance to win. Sadly, I can only ship within the USA. 

I’m making great progress on my personal quilt projects.  I’ve got a few quilts ready to send to Mom for bindings. My list of quilts I want to make just keeps getting longer though.  I’ve loved seeing all the beautiful exploding hearts posted on Facebook. It looks like a great way to use up scraps.   I snuck into Stitch and Quilt this afternoon for some backing fabric, and they have a gorgeous teal quilt hung up, I think that’s another one I want to add to my list.  If you are in the area, check it out.  

I hope all of you are making progress on your goals for 2021, and that you are staying safe and healthy.

Looking forward to retreating with you all soon!

New Word of the Year: Progress

Progress—2021

For the last couple of years, at the beginning of each new year, I’ve chosen a word of the year to be my focus and inspiration for the year.  Last year I chose Connect, the year before was Finish.  When I was planning how I would “connect” and “finish” over the last two years, I never imagined what those two words would finally encompass.  I never dreamed that many of my personal connections would take place via Zoom calls and group emails.  I also never dreamed I’d have so much time to connect fabric together to make quilts, bags, table runners, and wall hangings.  I would like to continue to connect and to finish, but the new year brings with it the desire to focus on another word:  Progress.  My desire for Progress encompasses my business, my skills, my knowledge, and my personal life. 

We are a little over three weeks into the new year, and we have already made Progress enhancing the experience at Koosa Mountain Lodge.  We completed a very large poured patio overlooking the gorgeous view in the first week of January.  Some of the new outdoor furniture has already arrived and the rest will be delivered this week.  The new patio is a natural extension of the lodge and will be the perfect place to enjoy an outdoor meal, read a book, sip on a glass of wine and talk to good friends, do some hand sewing, take in the smells of a campfire, or just spend some peaceful quiet time soaking in the beauty of the Appalachian mountains.

In addition to the new patio, we are building a new garage just outside the entrance to KML which will give us more storage space for our seasonal decorations and other supplies.  This project will be finished by the end of the month.  Other Progress that returning guests will notice this year include new decking on the porch, lighting in the cutting room, additional Accuquilt dyes, improved WiFi, and a new handrail on the front porch.

Making Progress with growing my business is also an important goal this year.  We were slowed by Covid last year.  This year we already have over a dozen weeks booked.  You’ll also be seeing more social media posts, more newsletters, and more blog posts from me this year as I look to expand my marketing reach. 

I’d like to make Progress in honing my skills on my new HandiQuilter longarm machine.  Since purchasing it in September of last year, I’ve quilted almost 50 quilts.  I’m finally comfortable with many of the basic features and I’m ready to branch out into the more advanced techniques.  I’m also ready to do more quilting for clients, so please reach out if you need any help with any of your quilting needs. 

I’d also like to make Progress on a new sewing skill this year:  Y-seams.  I had curved piecing on my list for several years, and I’ve made enough Progress in that area that I’m ready to move to Y-seams.  Of course, making Progress with my applique, English paper piecing, and free motion quilting all remain on the list.  Maybe this is the year!?!

There is always room for Progress in my personal life.  I’d love to continue to strengthen connections with family and friends as well as form connections with new friends.  I’d also like to reduce the amount of time I spend scrolling through social media and use that time to improve the social media presence of KML.  I’d also like to make Progress on my reading list, expanding my knowledge about a wide range of topics.  Progress towards improving my health, including mental and spiritual, is also very important to me. 

As I’ve learned over the last couple of years, you never know where life will take you. I hope you’ll check in with me throughout the year to help me keep track of my Progress wherever life takes me this year.  And, I wish all of you success, health and happiness in 2021 and in making Progress in your lives!

Best,

Mary Sowatzka

Owner

Koosa Mountain Lodge

Do What You Love and A Little of What They Love, Part 2

The most important lesson I’ve learned though is to do not only what I love, but what my loved ones love as well.  Sounds confusing, but it just really means that if you love someone, find the time to do the things they love too. 

My father recently passed away, and today would have been his 96th birthday.  I’m so grateful I took the time to do some of the things he loved.

Many of my favorite memories from my childhood are of spending time with my dad doing the things he loved.  I started watching baseball when I was a kid because he was a fan, and it was something I could talk to him about.  Once a year, we’d leave right after Mass and head down to Milwaukee to catch the Sunday afternoon game.  He taught me how to keep score, he brought me to watch Reggie Jackson play, and he shared his love of baseball with me.  Even as a kid, I cherished those Sunday afternoon games.  Because I chose to do something he loved, I eventually shared that same love.  My bucket list includes seeing a game in every major league ballpark.  We’ve planned trips around visiting ballparks, and because of that bucket list, my family has seen games in 17 different cities.  Doing what Dad loved lead me to find what I love.

Another example of the importance of doing what your loved ones love is hunting with my husband.  When we started dating, Adam told me that if I didn’t hunt with him we couldn’t date because I wouldn’t see him all Fall.  Because I’d already fallen in love with him, I decided to give hunting a try.  I hunted with him for 10 years before I ever saw a deer in the woods.  I hated it.  He loved it.  When the kids were old enough, they took over as his hunting buddies.  I was so relieved!  Then, a few years ago we had the opportunity to travel to Namibia for a hunting trip.  I wanted to travel with him, so I agreed to hunt with him again.  That trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  We took the kids back the next year and had an even better trip.  We plan to go back again as soon as it’s safe to travel.  Doing what Adam loved lead me to find a place I love.

My kids love seeing live music.  We went to a lot of concerts and music festivals.  I wasn’t always sure about the artists they were dragging me to see, but I was doing what they loved so I went along with it.  Most of the artists we saw were ok, a few were terrible, but there are a couple that I would say that I love.  Doing what my kids love lead me to find what I love to listen to. 

So, do what you love, but make time to do what they love too.  Some of your best memories will come from doing what they love.

Do What You Love, and a Little of What They Love Too, Part 1

2020 has been a year full of lessons.  I’ve learned that I do, in fact, have enough fabric.  I’ve also learned that I don’t have enough thread.  I’ve learned that I’d much rather listen to YouTube videos about sewing and quilting than listen to the news.  I’ve learned how to Zoom!  I’ve also learned that my husband DOES know how to cook, a fact that he’s been able to hide from me for over 30 years.  The most important lesson I’ve learned though is to do not only what I love, but what my loved ones love as well. 

My happy place is my sewing room. When I am in my sewing room, I can spend a few hours forgetting my problems and just create.  I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I spend an afternoon sewing.  I love being able to point at something at the end of the day and say, “I made this today”.   Chain piecing is my form of meditation.  The repetitiveness of the motion and the sound of the machine are very soothing to me. Cutting fabric is a great way to work out some aggressions in a constructive way. 

Another aspect of quilting that I love is the exchange of ideas.  I’m in a couple of quilt guilds and I also belong to several groups on Facebook.  I love seeing the projects other quilters are working on.  I get so many ideas and so much inspiration from my fellow quilters.  It also gives me a lot of comfort knowing that I am not the only one to struggle with fabric selection, curved pieces and a consistent ¼” seam.

I have been quilting long enough to know that there are some aspects of quilting that I just do not enjoy.  I’m not a huge fan of applique. I think it’s absolutely beautiful, and it opens up so many more possibilities when making a quilt.  I just don’t enjoy doing it, so I don’t.  I also don’t like patterns with a long list of fabrics to pick out.  If I’ve got to pick out more than 5 fabrics, I’m probably not going to make the quilt.  I love quilts made from jelly rolls, layer cakes, and kits because the fabric choosing is done for me.

I love making quilts that look very complicated but are actually relatively easy.  For example, I love simple blocks that have amazing secondary patterns when you put them all together.  I love quilts that look like I’ve cut a million tiny squares, but I’ve actually done all strip piecing. 

Many people don’t like certain steps in the process.   Precuts are great for people who don’t like picking fabrics or cutting strips.  Acuquilters are amazing for quilters who don’t like rotary cutting.  My favorite is when people do their longarm quilting by checkbook or credit card because sometimes I get to do the longarming for them.  With the recent purchase of my new Handi-Quilter, I love that step in the process.  I’ve had my new longarm a little over a month and have already gone through a roll of batting and finished quilting 30 quilts.

I don’t love the hand sewing of the bindings.  I’ve got 7 quilts ready to send to my mom for binding.  I’m so thankful that she loves that part of the process. 

I’ve been to many retreats over the last few years, and two things that always amazes me is the number of different styles of quilting and the number of different quilting personalities.  Some quilters save every tiny bit of fabric and actually use it for projects, some quilters get rid of the scraps as soon as they are done with a project, and there are many other quilters that fall somewhere in between those two types.  Some quilters make the most intricate quilts with the tiniest details, others make quick quilts with big blocks and few seams to line up, and again many quilters fall somewhere in between those two styles.  No matter where your tolerance for scraps lies or what your piecing preferences are, your quilts are your creation and they are beautiful. 

So, if you love quilting, quilt.  If there is a part you don’t like, figure out a way around it.  Choose patterns that fit your quilting personality.  Do what you love and let others do the other parts. 

Life is too short to make quilts that you don’t enjoy.   

Stay tuned for Part 2 – doing what makes them happy.

Still Connecting

My word for 2020 is Connect.  The goal at the beginning of the year was to make as many new connections as I could and to strengthen my existing connections with friends and family.  I also set a goal to connect as it relates to quilting.  I was determined to complete as many projects as I could by “connecting” pieces of fabric.  When I picked the word this year I had no idea the difficulty we would all be facing with COVID. 

It turns out that I find it much easier to connect pieces of fabric than it is to connect with other people.  I’ve made a lot of progress on my quilting projects, completing many UFOs and starting many new projects.  I’ve figured out that I have a lot more fabric than I thought I did.  For the first few months of the pandemic, I spent a lot of time in my sewing room.  I avoided leaving the house, was able to get groceries delivered via Instacart and did a lot of cooking.  Quilting became an escape for me, and I am so grateful to have had that escape.

Connecting with people this year is another story, though.  I had not foreseen how challenging that would actually be this year.  I’ve had to get creative when it comes to connecting with friends and family.  Through Zoom meetings, group texts, FaceTime, and email I have been able to stay connected with friends, family, and fellow quilters.  My weekly Zoom meeting with one of my quilt guilds has been a lifeline for me.  It’s been a wonderful way to stay connected and to see what the other ladies have been up to.  I love being able to see them and talk to them and seeing all of their projects continues to inspire me. 

Another way I planned to stay connected this year was through the many quilt retreats at Koosa Mountain Lodge that were scheduled.  Unfortunately, all but a few of these have been canceled and rescheduled for 2021.  I was able to host two retreats this summer, and it was a wonderful way to connect with fellow quilters.  Carol Stanek, of www.colorwiththread.com hosted a retreat where attendees worked on Judy Neimieyer projects.  The quilts at that retreat were amazing!  I even improved my paper piecing technique. 

Koosa Mountain Lodge was also able to host a birthday retreat for a special quilter.  Sandy and her friends enjoyed a weekend of quilting, relaxing and celebrating.  The guests took field trips (wearing masks of course) to the Common Thread, Quilt’n Kaboodle, the North Georgia Zoo, and Tantrum Brewing.  One of my favorite parts of the retreat was sitting by the fire at Koosa Mountain Lodge and roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores, laughing with my fellow quilters.

I also wanted everyone to know if they are looking for ways to connect and want to book a retreat at Koosa Mountain Lodge, we are providing 100% refunds if you need to cancel or move a reservation because of COVID.  Not all retreat venues are doing that but I want you all to know that we understand the risks associated with COVID and will work with you to find a time to visit when you feel it is safe to do so for your group.

The importance of having meaningful connections has been reinforced many times this year. Limited in person social interaction has made me realize just how valuable my connections with friends and family are.  As the need for limited social interaction continues, it is my wish for all of you that you remain connected to those that are important to you, to the ones who lift you up and inspire you.  Please stay safe, healthy, and connected—with your quilting and your family and friends!

Challenge Completed!

Happy Easter!  Lent is over!  I’m sure many of you are wondering how I did with my Lenten challenge of finishing 40 projects.  Well, due to the extended period of social distancing, I have spent a lot of time in my sewing room hiding from the outside world!  I was able to easily complete 40 projects. 

In addition to the masks I’ve made, I finished:

4 pillowcases

3 mug rugs

2 Fold It Hold It bags

7 quilts

24 table runners

I’ve also spent a lot of time organizing scraps, planning new projects, watching YouTube videos, taking virtual classes, sewing more quilt tops to be finished, cooking, and reading.  My longarm machine was running pretty steadily until I ran out of batting.  After seeing the amount of fabric that I have, I have decided not to do any online fabric shopping!  I’ll wait for my local quilt shop to resume normal operation before I go purchase backing fabric for the multiple quilts I’ve finished.

During this very stressful time, I’m very grateful for the ability to lose myself in my quilting.  I’m able to relax and let go of some of the anxiety I’m feeling.  I’ve also gone from being a fabric hoarder to being someone who is prepared! 

My hope is that everyone reading this post has something similar in their lives that will help them through this difficult time.  I’m also praying that each of you stay safe and healthy, and that we can celebrate each other’s accomplishments when this difficult time is over.

Forty Finishes for Lent

I was raised Catholic, and every year in preparation for Easter, Catholics observe Lent.  When I was a child, I would give something up, like soda or sweets, for 40 days to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert.  The last few years, instead of giving up something for 40 days, I would focus on doing something to improve my life or someone else’s for 40 days.   One year it was exercising for 30 minutes a day, another year it was donating 40 bags of clothes and household items.  Keeping with the theme of self-improvement through Lent, I decided to complete 40 unfinished projects during Lent.  

Forty Finished For Lent also keeps in mind my word for the year.  Finishing 40 projects during Lent means connecting fabric together to create quilts, table runners, and bags.  Many of the projects that I plan on finishing are either gifts for others or they are intended to be donated to charity.  I believe the act of creating for someone else gives you a connection to that person, at least in some small way.  I think of that person as I create a quilt for them, and I hope they think of me when they use the quilt. For me, creating is connecting.

I have a lot of unfinished projects, in various stages of completion.  I have a large number of quilt tops that are ready for quilting. I am a longarmer, and I will usually finish my clients’ quilts before I do my own.  I also donate my quilting services for charity quilts, so those also get done before my personal quilts.  I’ve started alternating which quilts I do, doing a few client quilts and then one or two of my own.  That doesn’t always work out, and I’ve gotten behind on my personal quilts.  I will focus on finishing as many of those during Lent as I can.  Since I send most of my quilts to my mother for binding, I will count a quilt as finished if it is ready for binding. 

In addition to finishing quilts, I have several bags I’ve started, a lot of table runners, and a few pillowcases.  It seems as though I have a lot of grand ideas for fabulous quilted gift items while I’m in the quilt shop.  Those grand ideas don’t usually translate into finished projects; therefore, I’ve gotten quite a collection of wonderful gift ideas that are 90% finished.  For those items, they will be counted as finished when they are ready for gifting.    

Forty in Forty sounds like a lot of finishes, but I have quite a few projects that will truly only take 5 or 10 minutes to finish.  When I get on a roll, I’ll be able to do several of those a day.  Many of the quilt tops I have to finish are also quite small and can be completed in a couple of hours.   I’m very optimistic about my chances of Finishing Forty For Lent.

I don’t think that I’m the only one that has an embarrassingly large number of UFOs.  I would like to challenge my fellow quilters, crafters, and creators to Finish Forty For Lent.  If you can’t imagine finishing 40 projects in 40 days, maybe you can get a few of your friends to join you and together you can finish 40 projects total.  You can count your finishes however you’d like. Will you join me?

#fortyfinishesforlentchallenge

My Word for the Year

Last year I decided that instead of making any New Year’s Resolutions, I would choose one word that would be the focus of my year.  I chose “Finish” with the intent to focus on finishing many of my UFOs.  Beyond quilting projects, I had several other projects I wanted to finish.  I wanted to finish the website for my longarm business and several home improvement projects we had planned for a while now.  So, I wrote the word finish on my sewing room whiteboard and on the mirror in my bathroom so that I had a daily reminder of my goal.  2019 was a good year.  I finished a lot of quilts, my website, and the home improvement projects I had planned.  I also finished a few things that I had not envisioned at the start of the year, including one unexpected finish in particular, the purchase of Koosa Mountain Lodge. 

With 2020 upon us, it was time for me to pick a new word for 2020.  This year, my new word is “Connect”  I want to focus on making new connections with quilters and crafters.  I also want to strengthen my connections current friends and my family.  Of course, there is a quilting element to the connect theme.  I want to connect pieces of fabric together to make beautiful quilts.  

The connections we have with others impact our creativity, our physical health, and our emotional well-being.   When we connect with others who share our interests and are supportive of our endeavors, it lifts us up.  People who have emotional connections with friends have fewer cases of depression, they report higher levels of happiness, and they have more fun. 

“The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is.” – Fred Rogers 

We all know that connecting with others is important, but how do we do it? One of the easiest ways to connect is to get out of the house and do the things you love to do.  For my husband, it is his love of hunting and fishing that allows him to connect to nature and to other people through shared experiences in the woods, a dove field, or a boat.  For me, the love of quilting has helped me connect with so many wonderful people.  When my kids were younger and needed more of my time, I did most of my quilting at home.  I wasn’t connected to many quilters, although I did have a small group of friends that got together on a regular basis to sew.  Over the years, the ladies in that group moved away or had changes in their lives that made it difficult to get together.  I needed to find more and new connections.  The best thing I did was visiting my local quilt shop.  I started taking classes and attending the sew-ins and retreats.  Through those classes and retreats, I made new connections which led me to join two guilds.  I’ve connected with the ladies in the guilds, and I feel like I now have a tremendous support system.  That support system gave me the confidence I needed to start Koosa Mountain Lodge. 

If you are trying to connect with other quilters, there are many on-line groups you can join.  Facebook is full of groups of quilters, and these can be valuable resources, especially if you don’t live near a quilt shop or guild.  These groups are great, but they have a hard time comparing to the connections you can make with other quilters in person.  Attending classes at your local quilt shop and joining a guild are great ways to connect.  In my opinion, however, the best way to connect is to attend a retreat.  Spending an entire weekend with a group of quilters gives you the opportunity to share meals, enjoy a sunset on the deck, and have great conversations into the wee hours of the morning.  It’s become my favorite way to connect. 

One of the amazing things that I love about owning a retreat center is the connections I make with my guests.  I’ve held a couple of “dry runs” at the Lodge, and the ladies that I have gotten to know through those events are amazing.  They are so creative and talented.  I’m in awe of their abilities.  I continue to be inspired not only by their quilting, but by their stories.

An unexpected treat for me has been witnessing the connections these ladies are making with each other.  I’ve watched as ladies who didn’t know each other at the beginning of a weekend make connections that have lifted their spirits, inspired their creativity, and expanded their friend group.  I love that I’ve been able to help quilters connect with each other. 

I’m very excited about the opportunities to connect at Koosa Mountain Lodge.  I believe the more we connect with others the richer and happier our lives are.  I hope to form and strengthen many connections in 2020 and beyond.

Please support your local quilt shop.

Every day I get several emails from online fabric sellers with great deals, great ideas, and limited time offers.  Once in a while, I give in and purchase fabric online.  I love getting stuff in the mail, and what better stuff to get than fabric, notions or patterns? However, I realize that every time I purchase something online, that’s a purchase that didn’t support my local quilt shop.  Because I’ve been paying more attention lately to exactly what my local quilt shops mean to me, I’m shopping online less and less.  I want my favorite quilt shops to stay open, and in order for that to happen, they need my support.

What exactly does a local quilt shop mean to me?  So many things.  The most important thing to me that my local quilt shop provides is a sense of belonging.  The good ones greet you with a warm friendly “Hello! How are you today?” and follow it up with “What can we help you with?” or “What have you been working on?”  I love it when I bring a finished quilt top in to pick out a matching backing.  It never fails to result in an impromptu show and tell session throughout the shop.  I know that when I go to my local quilt shop, I will be greeted with a smile, usually a hug, and an invitation to browse for a while. 

My local quilt shops have been invaluable resources when it comes to learning new techniques.  You can watch a YouTube video and learn just about anything you want to learn, but it’s really hard to ask a video, “What did I do wrong here?”  Just having someone to show your project to and have them give advice is a tremendous resource.  Many times, when I’ve taken a class, I’ve learned tips and tricks not even related to the particular project we are working on.  That’s not something you can get from YouTube.  

Inspiration comes in many forms, and it is all around us if we remember to look for it.  The easiest place to find it is in your local quilt shop.  The beautiful fabrics, the shop samples, the patterns and the quilting books are all in one place ready to inspire you.  Additionally, when you take a class at your local quilt shop, your classmates are huge sources of inspiration.  A pattern or book usually gives just one or two colorway options, but when you are in a class with 10 other people, you see 10 other color choices. 

Have you ever purchased fabric online and been disappointed with the quality or the color?  Was the print not quite the right size? I’ve had all three happen to me, and one sure way to avoid that disappointment is to purchase fabric from your local quilt shop.  Many times, the colors on a screen are not true representations of the actual color.  When you are looking for a particular color of fabric, it’s best to go to your local quilt shop so you can make sure your fabrics match.  Color, quality, and scale of print are sometimes difficult to determine when shopping online.  

I split my time between Atlanta and Dahlonega, and I’m so lucky to have wonderful quilt shops near me in both places.   My favorites are Stitch and Quilt in Mableton, www.stitchnquiltt.com, and Quilt’n Kaboodle in Cleveland, www.quiltnkaboodlega.com .  If you are in the area, check them out!

I love my local quilt shops and I want them to be available to me for a long time.  In order for that to happen, they need our support.  Looking for a particular line of fabric, a pattern, or a notion? Check out your local quilt shop, and if they don’t carry it, ask them to order it for you.  Your requests give them feedback about what products they should stock.  Need inspiration for a project?  Just stop by and browse, take a class, or ask questions. They are great sources for so many things.  Once in a while, pay full price, it won’t hurt you that much, and it just might help keep your favorite shop open.   

What types of projects work best at a retreat?

The short answer is any project you want to work on!  There are a few things to consider when deciding which projects to bring along.  How is the retreat set up? Will there be enough cutting tables available? How many irons?  Will you have a design wall to work on? Will you be able to concentrate on a complicated set of instructions?  The good news is that at Koosa Mountain Lodge, you will have a good number of cutting tables, irons, and design walls.  However, you will still have other considerations.

When I go to a retreat, I like to have a variety of projects in different stages to work on.  I always try to bring at least one project that is already cut out and ready to sew. I like to be able to start sewing as soon as my machine is set up.  I don’t want to have to wait for a cutting table to be open in order to begin a project. I also don’t want to take up an entire cutting table for the time it takes to cut out an entire project.   Most people need to use a cutting table occasionally to trim up a block or to cut a few pieces, so I always feel bad when I monopolize the cutting area for long periods of time. Having at least one project ready to sew means I can start sewing right away.

Another consideration is the complexity of the project you are making.  I find it is a good idea to at least have one project I am familiar with and can make without having to concentrate a lot.  One of the wonderful things about a retreat is the group of people you are attending with, but one of the challenges is the group of people may be more interesting than your projects!  It’s a good idea to have a project you can work on despite being distracted. It’s usually best to leave the detailed projects for your sewing time at home. My “go to” projects are either scrappy or have a lot of pieces that can be chain pieced.  

One exception to this rule is a project that your fellow guest can help you with.  Are you struggling with a certain pattern that your friend knows by heart? A retreat may be a good time to enlist your friend’s help with a project that has you stumped.  

When I’m at a retreat, I can only work on the projects I’ve brought along.  In my sewing room, I have so many possible projects that I sometimes work on several in one day, never really accomplishing anything.  By bringing just a few projects along, it’s easier for me to stay focused and complete an entire project before moving on to the next. The limited number of projects is a perfect opportunity for me to finish UFOs.  I have a large, embarrassingly large, number of UFOs. Some of them are beautiful patterns with lovely fabric, but an overwhelming number of pieces. They are projects I want to do, but I just sort of ran out of steam while working on them.  These are perfect to bring along on a retreat.  

For the retreat I am currently attending, I brought along a bin of scraps that range in size from 5 to 15”.  I know Koosa Mountain Lodge has an Accuquilter with a wide variety of cutting dies. I’m using this opportunity to iron my scraps and cut them into useable sizes.  This weekend I’m concentrating on 2 ½” strips and 5” squares, with a few 2 ½” squares depending on the size of the scrap. I’ve already made a dent in the bin of scraps, and I will go home with fabric I can then organize by color and size.  I’ve found some really great scrappy patterns that use 2 ½’ strips and others that use 5” squares. 

When you are getting ready for your retreat, my advice is to bring a project you can do mindlessly, projects that your friends can assist you with, projects where an Accuquilter will save you cutting time, and projects that have turned into UFOs you just haven’t finished because of distractions in your sewing room.