Turn out the Lights–The Party is Over

Sunday at the retreat was different from the other days.  There were sad faces with the thought of packing up and heading back home.  There were people who were power sewing trying to soak up every second of time they could before the real world stepped back in.   There were happy faces sharing smiles with new found friends.  At whichever location we were at, there was that bittersweet feeling of good-bye.

By 3:00pm on Sunday…this was all that was left of the quilters.  Doing this we’ve learned that it’s best that Sunday’s are a short day of class or a free sew day.


All weekend long we were asked, “Will you host Bonnie Hunter again?”  Everywhere we went we were asked.  I thought some of you might be wondering too so I’d tell you.  Here’s the answer…..Long ago Kelli and I saw Bonnie Hunter in Storm Lake.  Back then Kelli had just started sewing a lot but didn’t know about Bonnie.  We had a great time.  We quickly were on the “Bonnie band wagon”.  Bonnie is an infectious teacher who is full of energy making everyone in class feel accomplished.  We loved it.  Before we were home we were looking for where we might see her again.  We found Moline, IL and Mississippi Valley Quilters were hosting her and knew we wanted to go.  We got in and were again thrilled with our experience.  Then we started looking again.  That’s when I said to Kelli, “Let’s stop looking and host something ourselves.”  We debated and that’s what we ended up doing.  We contacted Bonnie….we found the venue and the rest is history.

In August of 2015 it all came together.  The small retreat we had wanted, where we could sew and start new Bonnie Hunter projects, didn’t happen though.  To accommodate the MANY requests we got to attend, we decided we would teach and create two locations.  We had fun but both of us were a little sad we didn’t get to sew.  We did have a lot of fun but still that missing sewing element was really missed.

In the excitement of that retreat, we booked Bonnie again…this time August of 2017 was our retreat date.  Again, to help accommodate the masses that want to see Bonnie, we booked two locations.  This time close together and the experience was much easier to manage.  But again, we didn’t get to sew.

We want to sew.  We don’t don’t want to plan.  We don’t want to worry if the garbage needs to be emptied or if the toilet paper is full.  We don’t want to feel responsible for the “experience” everyone has.  We originally booked Bonnie because we wanted to be guaranteed a spot at a retreat.  We have had a spot these last two retreats but,  it’s not a spot behind the sewing machine….so we are passing the torch.

When we did this last time…neither one of us had full time jobs so it was easier to handle the questions and requests.  We do now and we don’t want to short our jobs and we don’t want to short the retreaters.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for us to do it all “right”.  It’s time to pass the torch onto someone else.

On top of all of that, Kelli and Jason are talking about starting a family.  Who knows where Kelli will be with that in a couple years when Bonnie would come?  …as for me, I can’t handle the retreat without her….as frustrated as we both got with each other, we would never do it without the other.  We are so looking forward to time spent together that does not involve discussing the retreat.

As I left the retreat, Lou Ann of Lou Ann’s Quilting Garden and Retreat where we hosted the retreat at, was in the process of checking calendars to see if she could find dates for Bonnie to come.  There is nothing set in stone…no contracts are signed so who knows if it will happen.  All I know for sure is Kelli and I will not be hosting….But we did tell Lou Ann we want a spot to sew should she be able to get Bonnie booked.  We’ll help Lou Ann get the word out if dates get organized….we’ll help Lou Ann with anything as long as get some machine time.

There’s a lot of other people I’d like to thank….
Lou Ann is a gem….her husband was super helpful too.
Connie was a God-send.  Seriously, if there was something to do, no matter what, she was the first to step up to the plate and do it.  I can’t believe how our friendship has grown.  Who knew two years ago when she walked up to me and said, “You don’t know it, but you’re my bestie,” that she actually would become a bestie to me!  THANKS Connie!!!  I’m using one of my dish cloths today!!..thanks for being the keeper of my sanity and we are going to set a sewing day!
Julie of Me and My Stitches put on a great trunk show.
Bonnie was amazing.  So amazing that she made all of our blunders get over looked as her teaching was so “spot on”.

I’d also like to thank the many retreaters who gifted us goodies.  We appreciate it lots.  Barbara was so thoughtful. She sold items at the quilter’s garage sale and gave the proceeds to Kelli and I to help pay postage on the charity quilt projects.  WOW!!

Barnyard BBQ was wonderful!!  The food was great the service friendly and quick.  Thanks to the Amish ladies at Maple Grove bakery for the amazing rolls.  Thanks to the girl at McDonalds who made all the strawberry-banana smoothies for me and Kelli.  You were so fun..and we love your freckles!

This wouldn’t be a complete post if I didn’t take the time to acknowledge the best gift of all…Friendship.
Deb W-good health to you until I see you again.
Loretta-thanks for sharing of yourself.  All you said meant so much to my girls.
Carla and all the others who retreated for the first time-Thanks for taking the chance on us all.
Linda G.O.-it was so good to see you again.  I wish we would have had time to eat lunch together.
Stoney-It was so good to meet you.  I’m so glad you got to travel past the end of your driveway!!
Anne-Thanks for the recipe.  I’m trying it soon!
The Badass quilters-you girls were so fun….by the way I will remember your names Charnette and Heather.
Nell and Company-thanks for taking care of the key.
Debbie-I’m so glad I could see you again.  Let me know when you’re in town again.  Let’s do lunch.
Betsy-Congrats to you for conquering you machine.
The Canada contingent….you have me saying “eh”!!!
Meliza and others who made it home and had to go to work the next morning….I admire you. It was hard getting up and going!
Mary B-Thanks for being a deliver person to Janet.  Janet-I missed you.
Doreen-thanks for the chocolate.
Roxy-I missed meeting you.  Please drop me a note and tell me where your daughter is student teaching in Houston.  I’ll let you know where my Karl is at.  The two of them could road trip home over Thanksgiving…Thanks for sending Janine in your place.  She was so sweet.

…and a big thank you to Jo Ann S.  She is working on getting a reunion retreat started.  Whoever wants to come back next year can and work on whatever projects you want.  No teachers or classes…just sewing and renewing friendships.

I can’t believe the time I had!!

As I was driving home  from Oelwein for the last time the old Willie Nelson song “Turn out the Lights, the Party is over” was running through my head.

The party is over…but my fingers are crossed that I’ll be “partying” with these quilters again….only this time, I want to be on the sewing machine side of things.

16 thoughts on “Turn out the Lights–The Party is Over”

  1. Big retreats are a LOT of work especially when you have a big name teacher teaching. At the Jane Stickle retreat I attend in Shipshewana, IN, we have an official name for Sunday. It’s called, ‘the Sunday sadness’. Gay Boomer from Sentimental Stitches came up with that name.

    Hope you are recovering from the retreat and will be ready to power sew again soon.

  2. The retreat was great and I am so glad I listened to you Jo and decided to go. I am really glad I was able to meet Bonnie and learn about her and her techniques. Another win for this retreat is that I started 3 quilts. It had been about 5 years since I had pieced a quilt because I have been focusing on longarm quilting and have forgotten how much I enjoy that. And of course meeting all my new quilting sisters was awesome, such a warm, caring and helpful group are we:) Thanks to Jo and Kelli for bringing us all together!

  3. Thank you for hosting this retreat! I had a REALLY good time. I hope you will get to sew next time too whenever that will be. Hopefully things work out and we will meet again!

  4. That was beautiful… I can’t believe how much it takes to get a retreat up and running as well as getting a well know teacher….Bonnie is so down to earth. Just like one of us…She didn’t seem like a well know teacher but just one of us..I have to say thank you so much to Lou Ann for letting us stay under her roof..That was great to be able to just go upstairs sleep and them come downstairs and sew..I have been to both of the retreats at Lou Ann’s and LOVE THEM BOTH.. I can’t wait until the reunion..Since my first retreat which I brought some UFO’s and didn’t finish them, I had started 4 more…Yes those 4 more are now UFO’s, as well as the 3 that I started this time around.. But like others said, we know alittle more of how Bonnie does things.. The spider web string block is the last thing I needed to know how to do..All that were involved getting these retreats up and running, you all deserve an applause…I know of a GREAT place to come if I need(which is alot) lol, to get away….I am hoping when we get together again next year, you and Kelli will be with us sewing…I will keep reading your blog and keeping up to date with the family..Please take care. A very Happy Quilter….

  5. I do events for up to a few hundred people at my church. It is always a time you gift to others and set aside your own desires. What a gracious gift to have hosted this twice. But a chance for some enjoyable time of your own is a reasonable request. Here’s hoping you get a seat at the sewing table next time. Thanks for taking us along.

  6. Thank you Jo and Kelli…..you planned and took care of us all so very well!! Had the “Bucket List” time with you in Oelwein!! Yes, please get your machine sewing time in soon and hope to be a table mate with you, too!! So glad you realized you are good at planning retreats but don’t want to be in that business all the time. Sometimes we keep doing what you do well too long….”ya know?”
    Until we meet again, I will keep up with you on the blog.

  7. Thank you Jo and Kelli – you did a great job! I enjoyed your class and both of Bonnie’s classes. I’m sorry you didn’t get more sewing time! Take a breath and try to get some rest, and know everyone enjoyed the retreat!

  8. Cheryl in Dallas

    On Bonnie Hunter’s calendar, she has a note saying that she is no longer signing up local shops on her calendar. She wants to focus on groups of 50 or more quilters, and larger venues such as quilt shows and festivals.

    I guess we can say we knew Bonnie Hunter when she was just one of us. Sniff.

  9. I am thinking that many people who read your blog might come to a quilting retreat by Jo and Kelli. — After you have suitably recovered, of course. :>)

  10. Missed you, too, Jo. Hopefully, if and when there is another Bonnie retreat, I’ll be able to go. I know it’s a lot of work and I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into doing both retreats. You’re the best!

  11. Jo and Kelly, it is sad that you aren’t having another Bonnie retreat, but I so understand. They are work and no one realizes what has to happen behind the scenes. You both did a wonderful job. Gwen and I had a great time and now have 3 more unfinished projects. Ha, ha!! We both loved meeting you 2 as well as all the other retreaters. Hopefully our paths will cross again. Many thanks for all your hard work it was sincerely appreciated. (Gwen’s mom)

  12. Jo and Kelli
    Thank you so much for hosting Bonnie Hunter in Oelwein! The best thing about quilting is the friends we make! Seeing friends from the 2017 Bonnie Hunter workshop again was awesome. Meeting so many new quilters was equally awesome!! I’m counting the days til our reunion in 2018!

  13. Glad your retreat was great but I’m in total understanding of the desire to pass the torch!
    I hope to be able to make it to one of the “possible” retreats in the future. Kudos to all.

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