Garden Party 2008 Retreat Report

The 2008 Nordic Needle Stitcher's Retreat held April 17 - 20, was an incredibly wonderful event where 69 ladies gathered from many states and countries to stitch together. Friendships were formed and new stitching techniques were learned, during the 15 classes offered. Our event began with what our staff dubbed "Speed classes". Seven of our staff stationed themselves at tables where they taught or demonstrated a quick technique or tool. Groups of ten attendees each moved from table to table, spending 10 minutes at each station until the whistle blew and it was time to move on. After that quick introduction to the weekend, the first two classes were underway. If they hadn't signed up for a class that day, there was always SHOPPING at Nordic Needle, just one mile down the road from the Holiday Inn where all the Retreat Events took place.

My daughter, Jess, was the official photographer again this year. She enjoyed re-connecting with all the returnees and meeting the new attendees. Jess went to all the classes, all the meals, to Nordic Needle, to the Hjemkomst Museum tour, everywhere snapping photos to capture the Retreat events to the fullest. She's busy now assembling around 300 of the best photos onto a CD that she offers for sale as a great way to remember the Retreat and everyone who attended. Many ladies have come to the Retreat for several years. As a matter of fact, we gave out 5-year milestone awards to seven ladies and 6-year awards to another seven ladies! Many have come for 2, 3 and 4 years as well. This year 19 states were represented, as well as 3 Canadian provinces and New Zealand, England, West Indies and Bermuda. It has become the highlight of the year for many women as they find so much in common with other stitchers and experience hours of uninterrupted stitching time together.

Every year we give fabulous door prize gifts, donated to us by our generous vendors. This year there was a free gift at every meal for everyone, door prizes in all of the classes, and a final door prize Saturday night at the Banquet. The prizes range from fabrics, to threads, to patterns and kits, to stitching tools and accessories. No one goes away empty-handed! At one meal we held a "Swap Meet", where those who wanted to could bring a stitching project they just didn't want to finish and swap it for someone else's UFO (UnFinished Object), if they wished. The unclaimed projects are being donated to a local women's shelter. Another feature was the Bookmark Exchange. Each person was invited to stitch and bring a bookmark to exchange and also extra bookmarks to donate to the Bookmark Challenge. That was an astounding success this year as we collected 79 bookmarks for the Challenge in addition to the ones we exchanged. We drew a name of one lucky person and she received half of the Challenge bookmarks to take to her home town to give to a library or school, or adult literacy program to promote reading. Donna, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, was the lucky winner and was thrilled to be able to share the bookmarks in her city.

During our Saturday evening Banquet (delicious meal), we held our "Stitcher's Showcase" event. We invited everyone to bring a finished piece of their needlework to have on display for the evening so everyone could see what they have stitched. At the suggestion of one of the attendees, we invited our Nordic Needle Staff to also bring in a piece to show what they have stitched. We set up our display boards and made an arrangement of pieces that totaled 40 feet x 4 feet plus pieces were displayed on 8 easels and some were lying on the tables. The display was amazing! What talented stitchers we have on our staff and in the group of Retreat ladies!

Those 4 days went by so quickly and many did not want to leave. Several ladies talked about coming back next year and bringing friends. We are already talking about what classes to offer next year, what special events to include, and how we can make it an even more exciting Retreat for those who come. We are so thankful to all who came and spent these 4 days with us and can't wait to see them again.