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Is it normal to go to quilt retreats alone?

Is it normal to go to quilt retreats alone?

Old 12-03-2013, 05:23 PM
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Question Is it normal to go to quilt retreats alone?

There are a couple of quilt retreats coming up in my area this spring and I'm considering going to one or the other.

My problem is...I don't know any other quilters in my area, so I'd be going by myself, without knowing ANYBODY there. I'm a little bit shy when I don't know people so it's hard for me to be outgoing in situations like that.

I also think I'm a bit younger than most local quilters; definitely younger than the very few I've managed to meet at the LQS or annual quilt show - which makes me feel out of place too. I'm from Generation X, program computers for a living, and have no kids (much less grandkids)...I worry the ONLY thing I will have in common with most of my fellow quilters will be quilting. (And of course I also worry they will all be much better at it than I am so I'll look a fool...but THAT particular fear I can deal with.)

I guess I'm just worried I'll go and I will stick out like a sore thumb and spend the whole time being lonely and out of place while everybody else either already knows each other or all have way more in common with each other than I do.

Am I worried for nothing? Do other quilters tend to buddy up with weird loners like me at retreats? Does a love of quilting make up for having zero other things in common? Do 30-ish people even go to quilting retreats??

I feel like I'm being silly and a bit of a chicken but I don't want to spend a lot of money (and burn up a bunch of vacation hours at work) if it's not going to be a good experience. Crazy....walk me into a boardroom full of demanding, "high-powered" people and tell me to give a presentation and I'm cool as a cucumber, but put me in a room full of strangers making quilts and tell me to make friends and I'm totally intimidated!
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:27 PM
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I hear where you are coming from -- I'm the older quilter, retired, with grandkids. If I were at a retreat and knew you didn't know anyone I would make a point to introduce myself and spend time with you. Try it--you may decide you like it. Let them know you are new and I would bet you will make lots of new friends. When at a table with someone introduce yourself, tell them a little about yourself. Don't come across as a know-it-all (and hopefully they won't either). You will find that quilting will give you something in common and you will find other things you will have to talk about too. Let us know what your experience is like.
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:43 PM
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I felt the same way when I signed up for a Kaye England retreat for this past September. The only person I knew was the owner of the shop sponsoring it. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I met lots of wonderful ladies, everyone shared ideas and gave encouragement. It was fun! I've run into one of the ones who sat closest beside me at a couple of the quilt stores since then and we always have a nice visit. I will definitely be willing to do it again. I say "Go for it!"
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:45 PM
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I understand your feelings. I'm the older generation but I have no husband children or grandchildren and I agree you sometimes have to chill out while the others chat and glow.
My only conversation with groups at quilt retreats is quilting but that is what I go for. So no worries. Go along listen and enjoy. One thing is quilters do notice and pull others in.
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:50 PM
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I have gone to a retreat alone when my friend had to change plans. I did know a lot of the women casually through guild. I think sewing next to someone is a good way to get to break the ice. I also listened to a book on tape the third day (while I was sewing) when my sewing enthusiasm lagged.

So I agree with the above suggestions. Introduce yourself as new to the retreat but not to quilting. I think Leah Day and the ladies in the modern quilt movement have made women more aware of a younger generation being involved in quilting. Bring something to listen to, and snacks. There was a lot of snack sharing at the retreat I went to and people walking around asking what you are working on but I am no expert.
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:53 PM
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I don't think you are weird at all. I am shy too and can relate to not feeling comfortable in new situations or with people I don't know. I wouldn't worry too much about your age I don't think most quilters I've met care much about how old you are. Do you have any kind of sit and sew at a nearby quilt shop you could go to that would be for just a few hours but where you might meet some other quilters? Maybe you could start with a shorter retreat and bring several projects so you could keep really busy if you felt uncomfortable with the others and at the very least you would have some completed projects and at best might make some new friends.
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:00 PM
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Boy are you going to be surprised and have fun!!
Most quilters have never met a friend that they didn't know -- I mean they are mostly so friendly you feel like longtime friends real quick.

IF you happen to be near one who is 'superior' or judgmental or too quiet and unfriendly, please make a point to move!! Be more protective of your own feelings than theirs (worrying that moving will be rude to them) and just do it. You paid for the event, make the most of it!

Wish I were going to be there, too, I just love first timers!

Jan in VA
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:05 PM
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I went to my first retreat 2 years ago alone and had a great time. I am going back this year and taking a friend (or maybe more). Go for it.
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:08 PM
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25 yrs ago I joined a swap and met a lady who was about 60-70. it was a charm quilt swap. she asked if I wanted to go to her house. I figured I hit paydirt, old lady buncha scraps. Well it was the first quilt she ever made and about my 100th. . We were great friends and quilt buddies till we both moved. I always was the youngest, I go to a lot myself, that's how yu make new friends. You'll have in common what you want to have in common. Go with a smile.
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:52 PM
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go and enjoy yourself. quilters are friendly people and as someone said be open and if you don't like who you are sitting near, move. it will be fun and i'm sure you'll have a great time. besides what better way than to meet other quilters.
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