myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

The Thread House Retreat Report!

A week or so after the event and I finally feel recovered enough to post my Thread House Retreat Report!

This was our first residential retreat, held at Folly Farm near Bristol two weekends ago. Speaking for myself, Karen and Lynne we are happy to pronounce it a resounding success! And as far as the feedback we have had from the attendees so far they seem to agree.

I shared quite a few photos on Instagram over the weekend but have since found a few more on my phone and have also collected up some finished project photos to share here.

The weekend started at lunchtime on Friday with registration and the nametag swap, followed by a delicious lunch of soup and sandwiches.

And of course everyone got their amazing goody bags!! They really were awesome, thank you to all our wonderful sponsors!

Then we were straight into the afternoon classes. I was teaching my Patchwork Portrait workshop and my, what a creative and ambitious group of ladies!! The portrait above is by Philippa, and the one below is by a very proud looking Rachel (with added shrubbery!)!

A very stylish lady by Michelle – love how coordinated she is!

Here’s Dawn, one of a few over-achievers in the class (in a good way!), with her Egyptian God and his dog!! Just wow Dawn!!

I would love a top in the same fabric as Sue’s gorgeous lady (note the curved jaw line – brilliant detail Sue!).

At the end of the class we had a show and tell. Of course not everyone had finished so I became a kind of mobile Design Wall for display purposes!
And here’s that lady finished. This is Helen’s and I love how naturally she is standing – such fantastic movement!
Another one finished at home, this is Ruth’s lovely lady.

And lastly, Irene not only added a face (!) but made her’s into a cutting mat pouch! What a great idea!

There is actually one more I wanted to share but haven’t managed to get hold of a photo yet. I did say that students could bring in a photo of themselves or someone else for us to re-create. Well Laura brought along a picture of Darwin… with a monkey! And yes, we managed to work out how to do it together and instead of a handbag Darwin is carrying a wee monkey!!

Friday evening was a bit of a blur. We had the pouch swap and a lovely dinner, then got stuck into the ‘honesty bar’!

We awoke to a fabulous day and this incredible view!

Saturday morning was my ‘free session’ which meant I was being classroom assistant. Which turned out to be totally unnecessary in the uber prepared workshops of Karen and Lynne. Apart from when I was called in to Lynne’s class for some ’emergency drawing’ – somebody needed to applique a bird over some smudged fabric and nobody else could draw one!

This is Lynne’s Scrappy Tiling class. The machine classes were all held in this lovely converted barn with fabulous natural light.

Here are the amazing results from Lynne’s class!

Meanwhile the lovely Anna of Eternal Maker had arrived and was setting up her pop-up shop. Here she is purveying her work in a shaft of sunlight. The shop was a HUGE success!

Karen was teaching screen printing in the morning…

…and lino printing in the afternoon. I absolutely love this shot of the lino stamps!
And here are more results from the lino print classes (she did two), which are just incredible! What an immensely talented bunch of artists!

On Saturday afternoon I taught the first of my two applique classes. Originally I had planned this large flower bowl as a class project, but then thought better of it as I got closer to the class. Applique isn’t for everyone and some people may be put off by such a large project.

So I took some of the flower elements from the large pattern and designed this mini version. However all the students also got the pattern for the large bowl in the hope they will move on to it at home.

Only one person finished the piece in the class but she cheated a little and scaled down the pattern! Of course I am talking about Nicky, and here she is with her finished mini mini applique panel!

But finished pieces are now popping up on Instagram. Here is Sue’s – lovely fabrics Sue!

And Philippa’s with added embroidery!

And Philippa really got into the applique and has now finished the large flower bowl! Absolutely stunning Philippa!!
I think we cracked open the honesty bar a little earlier on the Saturday night!

After dinner we had an exciting lucky dip with some epic prizes and a thrilling Fat Quarter swap! Then it was time for show and tell.

Here is Nicky (again!) with her amazing Nordic Quilt.

Lynne put together a great mosaic from the show and tell – such fantastic quilts!

 While I was teaching on Sunday morning Lynne taught this lovely FPP block.

And then, all too soon it was time to say goodbye! Here we are giving everyone a clap (and looking just a bit ‘special’!).

I think it’s safe to say that this won’t be the only TTH retreat (we are already planning the next one!). It really was a blast – a wonderful friendly vibe, great classes and teachers (even if I say so myself!), and a very cool venue. It really felt like a proper ‘retreat’ in that we were cut off from the rest of the world and just enveloped in a lovely fabric filled cloud of fun!!

For a wonderful (and less biased!) review of the retreat check out this post by Very Kerry Berry. And if you think you might like to come along to future events, head to our website and sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with news when we have it!

A huge thanks to everyone who came along and took a chance on this first retreat! And of course to my two quilty BFF’s Karen and Lynne!


  1. Brought it all back Jo. It was a wonderful weekend and I shall keep an eagle eye for the next one. Particularily loved seeing all the show and tell quilts which seemed to go by in a blink. But what a fantastic inspiration.

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