Retreat Memories

Browse our galleries of quilters, friends, and teachers past and present - and let us know if you've got contributions to add to our collection of photographs. We'd love to share yours here.

  • Old Nova Scotian Quilts
    Old Nova Scotian Quilts
    by Scott Robson, Sharon MacDonald
  • Visual Coloring: A Foolproof Approach to Color-Rich Quilts
    Visual Coloring: A Foolproof Approach to Color-Rich Quilts
    by Joen Wolfrom
  • A Garden Party of Quilts: 7 Pieced Projects for Flower Lovers
    A Garden Party of Quilts: 7 Pieced Projects for Flower Lovers
    by Joen Wolfrom
  • Points of View: Landscape Quilts to Stitch and Embellish (That Patchwork Place)
    Points of View: Landscape Quilts to Stitch and Embellish (That Patchwork Place)
    by Valerie Hearder
  • Fat Quarter Frenzy Two
    Fat Quarter Frenzy Two
    by Susan Purney-Mark, Daphne Greig
  • Simple Stained Glass Quilts
    Simple Stained Glass Quilts
    by Daphne Greig, Susan Purney Mark
  • Fat Quarter Frenzy
    Fat Quarter Frenzy
    by Susan Purney-Mark, Daphne Greig
  • The Quilted Garden: Design and Make Nature Inspired Quilts
    The Quilted Garden: Design and Make Nature Inspired Quilts
    by Jane Sassaman
  • A Month of Sundays - Family, Friends, Food & Quilts: Slow Down & Sew - 16 Projects, Precut Friendly
    A Month of Sundays - Family, Friends, Food & Quilts: Slow Down & Sew - 16 Projects, Precut Friendly
    by Cheryl Arkison
  • Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics
    Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics
    by Amanda Jean Nyberg, Cheryl Arkison
  • Canadian Heritage Quilting: Quick Creative Designs
    Canadian Heritage Quilting: Quick Creative Designs
    by Karen Neary, Diane Shink
  • Japanese Garden Quilt: 12 Circle Blocks to Hand or Machine Applique
    Japanese Garden Quilt: 12 Circle Blocks to Hand or Machine Applique
    by Karen Kay Buckley
  • The Joy of quilting.
    The Joy of quilting.
    by Swim. Laurie.

The Workshops 

We are so excited about our workshops for the 2015 Mayflower Quilter's Retreat.

Dawn Over Heritage Park by Ana Buzzalino

New York Beauty blocks, and the myriad of quilts made from them, have always fascinated me. There’s something to be said for gentle circular shapes and sharp points. The intricate-looking arcs in the New York Beauty blocks are made using paper-piecing patterns ensuring perfect points every time. “Dawn over Heritage Park” uses two different blocks in two sizes: 8” and 4”. The border is paper-pieced, and appliquéd. The focus of the first day of the class will be on foundation paper piecing the arcs for these blocks and completing the blocks, focusing on one corner. The second day of the class will be a continuation of the first, giving the students an opportunity to advance and sew the blocks for the body of the quilt. During the third day, there will be demonstration on how to put the border blocks together and sew it to the body of the quilt. It should be understood that students will most likely not finish the sewing the quilt top during the three days of class as there is a lot of sewing and piecing involved.

Fiesta Mexico by Karen Kay Buckley

Fiesta Mexico

This is one of the blocks from my new pattern, Fiesta Mexico. While sewing on this large medallion-style block you will learn a lot of great hand appliqué techniques to include perfect circles, perfect ovals, smooth curves, sharp points and for some added fun we’ll do a little reverse appliqué. We will cover my favorite methods of hand appliqué “Templar and Sizing” as I like to call it as well as needleturn appliqué.

*In The Gut by Laurie Swim

Picture it in Fabric

This workshop is about the texture and the nature of our surroundings. The 3-day workshop will begin with experiencing the location, gathering source material through digital photography and specimens for inspiration to interpret the surroundings. Participants will then develop a series of samples exploring innovative landscape techniques in fibre. As well as developing samples for future reference, participants shall create a small landscape piece that reflects the area as a souvenir of their stay. Techniques such as painting skies, free motion machine embroidery, how to finish and mount fabric art will be covered. The focus is on making original artwork.

*This is representaional of the workshop, quilters will work on their own designs.

PLUS! We always offer an "Independent Study" option where quilters can work on their own projects.


Registration for the 2015 Quilters's Retreat

The brochure and registration information for the 2015 Quilter's Retreat at Pictou Lodge is now available. Please email to request the brochure and registration form. Registartion starts Friday March 27 by mail. Please make sure the date is clearly stamped on the envelope by the post office. Thank you!


2015 Quilter's Retreat

Plans are beginning to take shape for our 2015 Mayflower Quilter's Retreat at Pictou Lodge. We are happy to announce our lineup of teachers for the 2015 Retreat - first of all the dates are Wednesday September 23 - Sunday September 27, 2015. Registration forms will be really early in January 2015, registration will begin mid March 2015.

And the teachers are...

Fiesta Mexico - Karen Kay Buckley

Karen Kay Buckley from Carlisle, Pennsylvania 

Karen has over 300 quilts to her credit and her personal work has received numerous awards including nine Best of Show Awards, including the 2013 Best of Show at the American Quilter's Association Show in Paducah, Kentucky. Karen was voted "Teacher of the Year" by the Professional Quilter Magazine in 1997. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and calendars. Karen has fourteen "cover quilts" to her credit (she considers herself very lucky!). She has appeared on Simply Quilts and AQS show American Quilter. Karen has a very busy schedule teaching, judging and designing.

Karen has written four books and has numerous patterns published. As well Karen has developed several of her own products and useful tools including her amazing scissors!

In A New York State Of Mind - Ana Buzzalino

Ana Buzzalino from Calgary, Alberta 

Ana Buzzalino is a fiber artist and quilt instructor living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She has taken numerous workshops with renowned quilt and fiber artists throughout the years to improve her skills. Some of the workshops have been with Hollis Chatelain, Laura Cater Woods, Katie Pasquini Massopoust, and Elizabeth Barton among others. She has also attended various classes at the Alberta College of Arts and Design. 

Ana has been a teacher on a variety of quilting techniques for the past 22 years. Some of the recent workshops have been on Machine Quilting with focus on free-motion quilting, and New York Beauties Blocks quilts, which is one of her interests. Her present focus is on Art Quilts, incorporating different elements for surface texture. 

Ana's quilts have won several awards at local and national shows, and have been juried into major International shows.

Make and Break - Laurie Swim

Laurie Swim from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia 

Laurie has worked as an artist for some 40 years, developing unique and innovative treatments to fashion her imagery in textiles with fabric and thread. She has written three books, two published internationally, on quilt art. The Joy of Quilting with an Introduction by Alex Colville, 1984, made her an early leader in the art quilt field. Laurie's third book, Rags to Riches: The Quilt as Art with an introduction by Mary Pratt, was published in Canada in 2007.

Laurie's works grace many private and public collections, including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Art Bank, Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council, the City of Toronto Art Collection and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Del Mano Gallery in Los Angeles, California has represented Laurie since 2007. She is also represented by Zwicker's Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Amicus Gallery in Chester, NS.

Laurie is recognized as one of Canada's best living artists. 

We are so excited to have these three exceptional teachers at our 15th Quilter's Retreat,be sure and visit their websites to see more of their work. The pictures shown in this blog post do not necessarily represent the workshops they will be teaching. Workshops will be announced in September.


And The Winner Is...


Krystal, Kelly and Debbie - all three winners of the Avonport award

Debbie Bliemel was the winner of the 2013 Avonport Award, a scholarship for a young (under 40) quilter. The award was made possible thanks to the generosity of Faye Brown who owns Avonport Discount Fabrics. Debbie was the thrid winner of this scholarship (an all expense paid scholarship for the Retreat). Her isher report - she did have a good time and learned a lot. Thanks Debbie! 

 Debbie shares her quilt at our Show and tell evening.        

  My first impression of Pictou Lodge was one of relief. After getting quite lost (and almost taking the ferry to PEI), the main building of the resort as it loomed up out of the heavy fog was a very welcome sight. Even if I was running horribly late. As I coasted down the long driveway to the main building, I sternly told myself to calm down. There was nothing to be nervous about. Although Krystal was the only person that I knew who would be at the Retreat, I reminded myself that everyone in attendance would be there to make something wonderful. And if there’s one thing that I’ve always known, those who make things are the best kind of people. 

            Dodging fat raindrops as I scrambled to get registered, find my bearings, drop my things off in the classroom and make my way over to my assigned room, I opened the door to see the very welcome sight of Krystal holding a large bottle of white wine. She cheerfully introduced me to my other roommate, Kelly. I smiled at Kelly as she gave off an aura of sweetness that I couldn’t help but like immediately. After we all decided that I would (happily) take the fold-out bed, they sat me down, serious looks on their faces.

            “Ok, now that you’ve won the scholarship, you have certain responsibilities,” said Krystal. Kelly nodded solemnly beside her. From a bag on the floor, Krystal pulled out a faded and tattered pattern for a quilted jacket. Clearly a pattern from the 80s, it had shoulder pads that were so poofy they nearly reached the model’s earlobes.

            “Okay?” I said, warily. There had been nothing about this in the brochure.

            “You’re going to have to make one of these while you’re here.”

            “Whut?” My eyes flicked between the two of them. The panic started to come back a little and I started to mentally catalogue the fabrics that I’d brought. Nothing I’d brought was half-way suitable for making a quilted jacket.

            Kelly started to giggle at the horror on my face, and it wasn’t long before we were all laughing. The knot of tension that had lodged itself in my gut slowly dissipated and I could feel my shoulders relaxing.

            “Oh, you guys are such jerks. You really had me for a minute there.”

            Krystal grinned and checked her watch. “Oh hey, we should get over to the main lodge. We’re late for happy hour.” 


            After that introduction to the retreat, there was nothing that could faze me. Dinner was decadent and delicious, much enhanced by the oft-fascinating conversation of my tablemates. The service was absolutely wonderful, as evidenced by the Irish coffees that appeared at my elbow on a regular basis throughout the night. (Thanks!)

            As everyone crowded into the auction room that night, I admit that I was rather eager to bid. Some of the beautiful sari silks were definitely going to come home with me. I was already mentally waving goodbye to my cash when a wonderful quilted jacket came up for bids. My jaw dropped, my eyes met Krystal’s and I started grinning wide enough to bust my face open. It would be mine. For I had plans for it. Big plans. Despite a frenzy of flurried bidding from all corners, I emerged triumphant, having won the jacket. And as Kelly, Krystal and I walked back to our room, I informed them that it would from this point forward be the “Avonport Scholarship Jacket”. All future winners would be required to wear it to breakfast, each and every morning. An initiation rite. I went to sleep that night happily listening to the sound of the surf roaring just outside my window.

            The next morning, I gulped down a hurried breakfast, cheered Kelley as she paraded around in the jacket and finally scrambled over to the classroom. After a lingering wander through the temporary store set up by Mira Stitch ‘N Post, I was ready to start my class with the lovely Cheryl Arkison.

            As it was my first formal quilting class, I was eagerly anticipating learning some new techniques, maybe some nifty tricks. What I was not expecting was to have my eyes opened to the quiet beauty of low-volume quilting. My instincts have always guided me towards bright jewel tones, but after looking at several of Cheryl’s quilts, I came to realise that quilts that are easy on the eyes can be just as beautiful.

Debbie and Krystal at work.   

Thinking back, I think that my favourite part of the class was watching everyone start to loosen up as they became more playful. There were many ladies who I suspect were more accustomed to formal and traditional quilting, and it was an absolute joy watching them explore and enjoy a looser approach to putting thread to fabric.  Myself, I think that I was the most excited about learning how to work with freezer paper to make a ‘window’ block. It’s definitely a technique that I plan on using in one of my future quilts.

            I certainly learned a lot over the next few days of the retreat, as much from my fellow classmates as from Ms. Arkison. Ruth, I can’t tell you how excited my local Bee was when I showed them how to make bias tape using just two pins and an ironing board.

            The evening activities were so much fun, providing a very welcome break from being hunched over my machine. From the fascinator challenge to the show and tell, each night had something to really look forward to. Of course, that didn’t stop me from returning to the classroom each night – the freedom to sew late into the night was too hard to resist. Having the time to allow myself to abandon all else and just sew was an absolute luxury, one that I plan on repeating at the next Retreat.

            Yeah, you heard me. I’ll definitely be coming to the next one. Wild horses couldn`t keep me away. After all, I have a jacket to pass along to the next winner of the Avonport Award for a Young Quilter.

            Thank you all so much for making my first Retreat experience so incredible!



The 14th Quilter's Retreat

The calm at Pictou Lodge

Another Retreat has come and gone. We had another wonderful time with some pretty wonderful quilters. The days flew by all too fast. The classrooms were a beehive of activity and creativity, conversation and quiet. The weather was great for arrival day, then we had two days of wind and rain (no hurricanes this year and no snow). Then we had two wonderful days of sunshine and blue skies.

Penny and Cheryl

We were delighted to have Penny Berens from Granville Ferry, NS and Cheryl Arkison from Calgary AB with us this year as our teachers. It was wonderful to see their workshop show and tell on the last night and see how much everyone accomplished, truly impressive. We were saddened that Karen Neary could not be with us this year due to a death in her family. We all send our sincere sympathies and hope to have her with us at a Retreat in the near future.

The Retreat happens thanks to the help of many both in the two years it takes to plan and organize and the 5 days at Pictou Lodge. For one reason or another many of our committee could not be with us this year. Meredith and Ann worked hard and lent their support many times, I could not have managed without them, I am so grateful for their support. Jamie jumped in the last few months and took on several jobs. Once at the Retreat Davida and her sister Jeanne Kay helped with the seating plan for dinner, Barb M and Kay looked after the table favours, putting them out at each meal. Thanks to all who donated the favours - Barb and Kay, Gerri and Beth, Marie, Rhoda Moore (from Trend Tex Fabrics). Meredith and Ann were joined by Diane to manage the sale tables of books, magazines and fabrics. Rosemary, Isabel, Joan and Anne looked after the auction (fund raising for the 2015 Retreat) and Linda, Linnet and Jamie managed the silent auction table. Patsy, Bev, Debbie P and Debbie V managed the draws for door prizes and distributed them each night. Anne MR, Tina, Sandi and Deb P organized the fascinator challenge parade on the final night and teachers Cheryl and Penny along with our vendor Jacquie were the judges. I am sure I have forgotten someone - it sure is testament to that old saying that many hands make light work! Please see the previous post for a list of our door prize donors! More thanks there!

Many, many thanks to Jacquie Gillis and Monica from the Mira Stitch 'N Post Quilt Shop in Sydney, Cape Breton who came to the Retreat to be our vendor with a one ton truck loaded with all sorts of goodies and $3/m fabric. And they jumped in to help with the show and tell.

Wes visits Penny's workshop.

The staff at Pictou Lodge is the best! From Wes, the manager to Amanda our event co-ordinator to Chef Thomas and his staff in the kitchen to Sharon, Joanne and all the wait staff as well as the housekeepers and grounds staff. Everyone always had a smile and were all interested in what we do and ready to help when asked. I think we are a bit of a change from their usual conferences and meetings!

Krystal, Kelly and Debbie - our Avonport Award Scholarship winners.

I had many special moments, I think one of the best for me was seeing our three Avonport Award Scholarship winners together and having such a great time. Krystal form 2009, Kelly from 2011 and this year's winner Debbie. The criteria for the scholarship is to be under 40 and keen to learn about quilting. All expenses are covered (except supplies) and we are thrilled to be able to offer the scholarship again in 2015 thanks to Faye at Avonport Discount Fabrics.

Be sure and check our Photo Albums, the link is to the right. I have organized the pictures into 3 categoreis - the 2013 Retreat, the Fascinator Challenge and Workshops. Thanks again to Lorna for sharing her pictures with us too.

As I went through the 500+ pictures I took, then went through Lorna's pictures (thanks Lorna!) I could not but help to think about the future of the Retreat. I was almost 30 years younger when I had this brilliant idea to have a Retreat. I hope we can muster a committee together for another one. I hope there is enough interest and people willing to carry on for many years to come.

The chairs wait for us to come back September 23 - 27, 2015.


Our Sincere Thanks

The Pictou Lodge Quilt, made by Dorothy Johnston for Peter and Carol Ann van Weston, formwer owners of Picotu Lodge

The 14th Quilter's Retreat at Pictou Lodge is over and we have many people to thank. Well over 20 people and businesses donated prizes and thanks to the great team of Patsy, Bev, Debbie and Christine everyone at the Retreat went home with a prize. Our donors this year were-

Val Hearder and African Threads

Art Quilt Publishing - Laurie Swim

Avonport Discount Favrics - Faye Brown

Diana Mitchell

Lynn's Quilting Services - Lynn Jones

Mahone Bay Quilter's Guild

Mira Stitch 'N Post

N. Jefferson Ltd - Ken MacAloney

Pictou Lodge

Sew With Vision - Bonnie Spinney

Suttles and Seawinds

TLC Quilt Studio - Susan and Bruce Taylor

Trend Tex Fabrics - Rhoda Moore

Please check out their websites and if you happen to visit one of these businesses be sure and thank them!


A Week To Go!

 Patsy at work in the Rotunda 

We really are getting down to the last details. It has been a hectic summer and I apologize for not being here more often. After 17 years in our old huse we have made the move to the beautiful town of Mahone Bay. It has been exciting but exhausting and we are still getting settled, dealing with electricians, plumbers, carpenters and I am listening to the drilling in the basement as I write, the old oil tank has to be replaced! Yes, we have bought another old (145 years) house.

Meredith, Ann and I have been "the" committee this year with much appreciated help from Jamie, Faye and Katherine. We are hoping we haven't forgotten anything! Yes, we have done this 13 times before but each year there is something different. This year we have had changes at Pictou Lodge to deal with and thanks to Amanda, the amazing events coordinator we are going to be well taken care of.

Pre dinner gathering on the verandah at Pictou Lodge

We have also had to reorganize a bit when Karen Neary had to cancel her workshop due to family illness. We completely understand Karen's situation and we hope that she will be back to teach at our Retreat soon. We tried to find a replacement but everyone we looked at was already booked. So, thanks to the cooperation of everyone who was booked in her class we are going ahead with just 2 teachers (Cheryl Arkison and Penny Berens) and the independent study. No one opted out, everyone took a second choice. Thank you to all who changed their workshop. We know you will still have a wonderful time and learn a lot!

All set up for our "progressive show and tell" with mary's selvedge quilt on the wall.

Now, if I can just find my rotary cutter and my favourite scissors I will be happy!