I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Festival of Broken Needles, GMQG Retreat 2015

Whew..Well, it's over..There is still a mountain of paperwork, finances, thank you's, photo editing, a post-mortem meeting to be completed, but the actual physical retreat is over and done with. 
A puzzle table in the sun

I belong to the Greater Moncton Quilt Guild, a guild currently in its' 29th year. Each year a retreat is held and this year we were able to accommodate 40 participants. Last year I was one of two "assistant planners" and this year I was Co-Chair and next year I go back to being a registered participant.
Our block challenge was a spool block and the lucky winner went home with enough blocks for a very large quilt top!

We open the doors to our weekend retreat on Friday at noon and close up shop at noon on Sunday. What happens between these hours is pretty amazing whether you are considering what the collective group manages to produce, or whether you are considering the sheer dynamics of 40 women talking, laughing, joking, eating, and drinking, with a few tears mixed in, some from joy and a few less joyful, but all therapeutic none the less. 

I love to plan and execute events. And I feel establishing a theme helps create a cohesive event and makes it easier for the organizing committee. Last year our theme was "Quilters Love to Strip" and all the projects, games, prizes, decorations focused around strips. This year we based our retreat on the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles, an annual ceremony where Japanese seamstresses honour their broken tools by laying them to rest and giving thanks for their service. With this focus on gratitude, we also wanted to educate and were able to include valuable information on needles, pins and thread as part of the handouts. 
Juanita made herself and Shirley oriental mug rugs for the occasion!
We contacted sponsors, both local and online and were absolutely astounded by the support we received. In addition to the small budget we had from our retreat fees, we raised funds by selling tickets on a basket of quilting goodies. Combining what we raised and what was donated, we were able to provide each of our participants with a wonderful goody bag and a door prize! 

The last two years we have included a banquet on Saturday evening as part of the price of admission. This year after the meal, we also held a small ceremony conducted by our own Geisha who gave us much food for thought with her reading of Emily Dickinson's poem, "Don't Put Up My Needle and Thread". She invited each of us to consider the importance of these simple tools as we placed our broken needles and pins in a bed of tofu, just as they do in Japan. 
Our altar

Our broken needled and pins were laid to rest in a bed of tofu

Afterwards we invited everyone to come and have their photos taken in the photo booth we had set up, complete with costumes and props. To say we laughed is an understatement! What a wonderful group of women! Everyone participated and we have some gems of photos as they shared this fun activity with their quilting friends. 
The planning committee 

Co-Chair Nancy and I hammed it up

You might guess I am weary now. I had a full three weeks with a week long trip to Toronto, a three day seminar here, and then this retreat. Today I stayed in bed a bit longer, wore my fleece pyjamas longer than I stayed in bed and I enjoyed endless cups of coffee while I readjusted to the inside of my house. 


  1. I bet you are tired, but a real good tired. Sounds like such fun! I had not heard about the Festival of Broken Needles before. Very interesting!

  2. It was a terrific retreat! Thank you, Nancy and your committee for a successful event!

  3. Great post Jen, It was quite a weekend!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful time. Enjoy your well deserved rest now!

  5. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauFebruary 25, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    You should google Hari Kuyo or the Festival of Broken Needles. It is really interesting! We tried to tie all aspects of our retreat into the theme and I think everyone enjoyed it. Our mystery project was a needle case-and who doesn't like a few of those! lol

  6. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauFebruary 25, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    Thanks, Lorette! Glad you decided to come!

  7. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauFebruary 25, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    It was, wasn't it? I think we can safely say it was a success..

  8. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauFebruary 25, 2015 at 9:37 PM

    Thanks, Janet! It is amazing how much time these events take..now back to getting some of my own work done! In-between shovelling, of course..