How to Bust a Slump, Part Two

Another way to bust a slump is to change things up a bit.  This last few months, my routine has morphed into a rut.  A rut that hasn't included much creative activity.  So it was time to shake it up with a change of scenery.

My fiber group, North Texas Art Quilters (NTAQ), scheduled a three night getaway to a ranch in Blum, Texas.  Geographically close to home but in spirit miles and miles away from my daily routine.

The Barn on the Brazos/4H Lodge is a wedding venue and hunting lodge less than an hour southwest of Fort Worth.  It is owned and operated by Bethany's sister and brother-in-law, Cathy and Curtis, and looks like a fabulous place to have a wedding and reception.
The ranch house, 4H Lodge, was built by Curtis' parents.  It is perched on a hill with a view of the Brazos River in the distance.
We were there to sew, so we took over the ranch house and got busy.  On Monday Kerri showed us her piecing technique.  She drafts a pattern on tissue paper, cuts it out and creates templates.
We stacked a piece of black fabric on top of a piece of white fabric and cut out our pieces.  And shuffled them around so that we made two blocks, one the negative of the other.  Here are my two:
(Sorry you can see the shadows of the seams.  I was using a piece of batting taped to a window as my design wall.)

All of our blocks turned out really well!  I though we should put them all together to make a quilt, but I was outvoted:
We held our July NTAQ meeting at the ranch, since we were pretty much all there.  And since it was close enough to town that two members who couldn't come for the retreat came out for the day.  Our challenge piece was a tunic from the Wari people of Peru:
No surprise -- our interpretations varied widely.  The longer we do our monthly inspiration challenge, the more we come up with original takes on the artwork.   This month, most of us played with the square within a square shape.  Or at least on squares:
I was interested in the lines formed by the itty bitty concentric squares.  My piece started as a series of squares, but morphed into this:
After our meeting, we started to work on our own projects.  I will mention that I found the view distracting.  This is what I saw from my sewing machine, and believe me, the picture does not do it justice.  The light on the hills changed throughout the day and birds and animals flew and ambled by. It was fascinating:
I did manage to get some sewing in.  I decided before the retreat that I would restrict the fabrics I brought to a box of leftover fragments from other quilts ("bits") and a large chunk of each black and white.  And, for some reason at the last minute, I added some newly dyed red violet fabrics.  I thought I could work with the "bits" and make one piece, but I found I was enjoying working on each fragment and I'm not sure they go together.  Or that I want to put them together.
I especially like the piece on the top left.  

It wasn't all work and no play.  Every night there was a beautiful sunset.  We sipped wine on the lawn and watched the sun sink over the river:
We explored the ranch one day in a little green mule:
I'm not sure why it is called a mule.  But it was a fun ride:
 The ranch is a working ranch, with nearly 1000 acres full of curious cattle:
 Such a beautiful place!  And so isolated!  I hope we go there for another retreat soon!


Norma Schlager said…
It sounds like a perfect get away. I like your black and white piece.
Your group’s choice of activites is very inspiring and appealing. Though I belong to several small groups, it’s a group I started over 10 years ago, the Fiber Junkies (capped at 6 members) that I look forward to the most each month. However, after all this time, month after month of experimenting with surface design techniques we’ve repeated so many methods that perhaps a design challenge or two would be a helpful diversion. Thank you for sharing news of your group.