Many, many years ago now, before the heady days of Flickr and way before I was blogging, when Instagram didn’t even exist (yes, there was once a time!), a dear friend of mine, who is much wiser than I’ll ever be, mentioned the names of two quilters she had been reading about. A seemingly casual conversation about innovative quilters activated a passion and drive in me that would determine the future course of my life – that’s not an exaggeration! If my friend had not brought the work of Denyse Schmidt and Gwen Marston to my attention, I would not be doing what I do, The Creative Retreat would not be a thing. Whoa, big deep breath.

It was through the discovery of these two artists that my whole perspective on quilting changed. I found people who made the quilts I wanted to make and never thought were possible (or at least, were not allowed). I found the permission I needed to take this thing I loved to do and follow my instinct, to make what I love to make without the anguish about what others would think of my work.

I found joy in my making.

The discovery of these women and their approach to their work activated an enthusiasm in me that I’ve never been able to curb, and nor do I wish to!

And now Denyse Schmidt is going to be here. Right here. In Canberra, sharing her passion, her journey, her style and her skill. And if I were to stop and think about what that means, I might just pee my pants a little. And cry. Good, excited, holy-crap-is-this-really-happening tears. And lots of them.

Denyse is one of the most influential quilters of this century. She is a quilt and fabric designer, a maker, an author and a pioneer of the Modern Quilting Movement. Denyse was breaking new ground well before blog tutorials and you tube were around. She inspired me to take a deep breath, examine the roots of our craft and to push the boundaries. From the get go, she has encouraged the communal aspect of the craft and it is with pleasure and delight that we welcome her in joining The Creative Retreat community of makers.

The planning for this trip started almost five years ago! I met Denyse when I was lucky enough to volunteer with my mate Charlotte in her classroom at the first QuiltCon. I was impressed with her generosity as a teacher and her adaptability and flexibility to the pace and dynamic of the group. That evening, we went to dinner, Charlotte, Heather, Denyse and I, and it was then that I first raised the possibility of coming to Australia… She tentatively agreed (and probably thought I was a crazy stalker given we’d only met that day) so we talked about it over the years until ta da! She’s here. We are doing this! The Creative Retreat has five days of events lined up and when I think about the week that is coming, I’m so excited. And I’m humbled.

This is going to be one incredible week, the culmination of so much planning, preparation and sheer determination and I’m so very much looking forward to sharing these events with you – we’ll be sharing snippets of the days with you so be sure to keep your eyes peeled! If you are in Canberra, tickets for an inspiring Show and Tell are still available here, take the opportunity to hear first hand where creativity can take you’ll know why Denyse!