Stitcher's Paradise 2006 Retreat Report

Where do I begin to tell you the fantastic time we had at our Stitchers Paradise Retreat? Before that even began on the 9th, we had the Friendship Tapestry on display at Nordic Needle starting Monday the 6th! What a week we had!

Ragga and Larus arrived from Iceland on Sunday, March 5, and stayed at our home for three nights before moving into the Holiday Inn, where the Retreat was held. What fun we had getting to know this warm and wonderful couple. Sue met us at Nordic Needle Sunday evening where we hung the Friendship Tapestry on the frame my husband, Harold, had made. The Tapestry ran nearly 20 feet long and is about 32" tall.

photo shows Larus and Ragga as they take the Friendship Tapestry from their car into Nordic Needle

photo shows Larus and Ragga as they take the Friendship Tapestry from their car into Nordic Needle

Our local media really came through with the coverage they gave the Friendship Tapestry! The story appeared on each of our four television stations more than once, and two local newspapers covered it as well. Because of all the publicity, we had hundreds of people come to our store during the week to view the Tapestry including many from out of state. Some people had their pieces in the Tapestry and wanted to come and see the finished project. Susan from California came on Monday for the week and got to meet Ragga for the first time. These two plus Nancy, from Tennessee (who came on Thursday) were the trio who came up with the idea for the Friendship Tapestry.

photo shows Sue, Roz, Susan and Ragga

photo shows Sue, Roz, Susan and Ragga

Many people spent a lot of time viewing the Tapestry, appreciating each piece and admiring the wide variety of needlework techniques. Ragga did a great job with the television interviews, explaining how each person stitched their piece with love and friendship on their minds. Each piece has a story of its own. Read about her adventure on her website.

Remember, you can still be involved with this adventure. Follow the instructions on Ragga's website and get involved with this world-wide effort for friendship through stitching around the world.

By Thursday, 53 more women from 20 states, the Philippines, Bermuda, and England had arrived, ready for a great 4-day weekend of stitching, laughing and getting to know each other. Many were first timers, but many had come two, three and even four years in a row! During our first class that included all the attendees, we learned about fabrics and threads from Jean and Sandra. After that class, some took a Brazilian embroidery class, some took a beginning Hardanger class, while others either stitched in our Paradise Hut at the Holiday Inn, or headed over to Nordic Needle to enjoy their first shopping experience and tour the facility or view the Friendship Tapestry. The day went by very quickly and we met again for our evening meal and then more shopping!

Friday was filled with classes in the morning that included session one of the Advanced Hardanger Embroidery project, taught by Jean, the Huck embroidery class, taught by Ruth, and the Beginning Counted Canvas class, taught by Lynn. For those not in a class, the Paradise Hut store we set up at the Holiday Inn was open for stitching, and some went to Nordic Needle to shop. In the afternoon, most enjoyed a tour of the Plains Art Museum, and shopping until almost 10 pm at Nordic Needle. Some stayed up late and stitched and laughed, just enjoying each others company. Throughout the Retreat, each person received a Door Prize and we also gave gifts at five different meals and in every class. Many of our generous vendors donated fantastic products to use as door prizes during the Retreat. We gave away an Ott light, sets of pattern books, fabrics, thread assortments, wooden boxes, Q Snaps, scissors, yarns and so much more.

photo shows teacher, Jean, in her Advanced Hardanger class

photo shows teacher, Jean, in her Advanced Hardanger class

Saturday included classes in Advanced Hardanger embroidery (second session), Goldwork and Blackwork, taught by Jean, Beginning Tatting, taught by Vicki, and Finishing Techniques, taught by Barb. The day included more giveaways, shopping and a wonderful Hawaiian banquet in the evening. Stitching went into the night with JB, our manager, staying up with them until close to 2 am! I didn't even make it to 10:30!

Sunday started early with classes for some in Russian Punchneedle, taught by Jean, and Finishing Techniques, taught by Barb, while others enjoyed a little extra sleep before the 11:30 brunch which concluded the Retreat schedule. Some were off quickly to beat the storms moving in to the Twin Cities and south. Some ladies stayed until Monday or Tuesday, enjoying more shopping at Nordic Needle.

As one of our attendees, Janet, emailed after her safe return home, "Thank you so much for the wonderful time at the Retreat. I learned a lot of new stitching techniques and met some very wonderful ladies. I had a great time with my roommates who were absolutely great to room with. The food was great, classes were great and the teachers were wonderful. You make it so fun and relaxing and that makes it so easy to learn. Your staff does a great job each year. Keep up the great work. God willing, I will be back again next year for more fun, meeting new ladies and more stitching."

I will try to share more photos in coming Newsletters, as well as more stories of the Retreat and Friendship Tapestry display. We truly had a wonderful time with these dear ladies who came to Fargo to stitch and shop for 4 days. Our staff really worked hard to make it a great event for all our visitors and Sue and I are so grateful for their efforts. Next year we will host the Retreat in April, with details to come this fall.

One of our guests, Susan from California, ended up in the hospital from Sunday until Thursday. She recovered two more days at my house and Saturday she flew back to California. Even with this unfortunate experience, she was still so happy to have been able to attend the Retreat, take classes from Jean, meet Ragga, her fellow Friendship Tapestry creator with Nancy from Tennessee, her email pen pal, Lynne from England, and all the staff of Nordic Needle. She loved the people of Fargo and Moorhead and was impressed with the Doctors and staff at Meritcare in Fargo. We are so thankful Dr. Bev, from Jamestown, ND, was one of our Retreat attendees and urged us to take Susan to the clinic, which lead to her hospitalization. We are forever grateful she recovered and is safely back home.