Monday, October 24, 2011

Boxwood and Berries~Day 1~

 ~This lovely old pincushion was an unexpected treat from Maggie~

You know how sometimes you look forward to something so much that you blow it up in your mind to unrealistic proportions…so that when it finally comes, you are disappointed by the reality? Well, even in my most vivid imaginings, I couldn’t have dreamed up the Boxwood and Berries Gatherings. A gathering this perfect could only be dreamed up by fabric designer, Jeanne Horton, of Country Sampler in Spring Green Wisconsin.

Simply put, Boxwood and Berries was the best of everything. The best people, the best projects, the best shopping…the best trip I’ve ever taken.

I left early on Friday morning, and with music blaring, drove across the farmland of Illinois and then into Wisconsin. The scenery was breathtaking and as I rounded each bend in the road I exclaimed aloud to the creator, “Magnificent!”, “Well done!” and “Thank You!”… “THANK You!”. I always seem to do my best praising in the car…

The area around Spring Green is incredible, with rolling hills and farmsteads dotting the autumn landscape. It’s so beautiful that architect Frank Lloyd Wright built his final home there and is buried in a nearby cemetery. I arrived in town around 6pm and found my way to my modest motel room. It was nothing fancy, but the owner was sweet and my room was clean. The property was beautifully landscaped with flower gardens and gazebos for the use of guests, and there was always hot coffee in the office.

 The wonderful, independently owned, "Arcadia Books" in downtown Spring Green. What more could a girl ask for?

Oh, I dunno, how about alfresco dining in the town square?

In the morning as I drove into downtown Spring Green I was mesmerized by the waves of yellow leaves along the streets and the gorgeous treetops filled with fall color overhead. Pulling up in front of Country Sampler felt like a dream…I was finally there.

Being the new kid in class, I wasn’t sure where the school room was, so I wandered into the shop looking for help. I was overwhelmed by the extensive inventory in this four star needle arts shop. Everything on my wish list was there…and more. But it was almost time for class to begin, so I pulled myself away and walked to the classroom where everyone was just finishing breakfast. 

I could not have received a warmer welcome. Jeanne immediately jumped up to greet me and invited me to sit at her table with my hero  Maggie Bonanomi. Now seriously folks, I had to keep pinching myself, trying not to fawn or drool. Do you have any idea how long I have admired this lady’s work? And here I was, at Boxwood and Berries, casually chatting with Maggie Bonanomi!

So now let me tell you how absolutely silly I am…it turns out that Maggie is just like everyone else. She could by all rights be a Diva, but instead is one of the warmest and most genuine people I’ve ever met. And Jeanne is just as lovely, she was so kind and helpful to me during my stay…she went above and beyond to make me feel sincerely welcome. Both ladies were so generous in sharing their knowledge and friendship that I felt like I’d known them all my life.

(Front Row, L to R) Kim, Liezbeth, Nel, Patti~ (Back Row, L to R) Stacy, Maggie, Carla, Wendy, Linda, Els, Nicki, Me and Jeanne. soon as breakfast was finished I was greeted by the sweet and talented Patti from Winding Vine Wanderings. She brought everyone over to say hello, including Linda whom I had chatted with through email. Oh my goodness what a group! Talented, funny, helpful, kind…I knew it was going to be a fabulous four days. I was fortunate enough to share a table with Patti and Kim, a seriously wonderful duo. Patti is as patient and helpful as can be and Kim kept me laughing.

Now, a little about the school room…Jeanne has created a wonderful work space for her students in a building that adjoins the shop. A row of big windows across the back wall let in lots of natural light and there is plenty of room for displays, workstations and even a buffet table at the front of the room. We were seated 3-4 ladies at each of the big round tables. 

On that first morning we were greeted by a rustic wire basket filled with sumptuous hand dyed wools and the pattern for Maggie’s project. I’ll be honest, it was a little overwhelming to compare that bundle of wool to the magnificent bedcover hanging on the classroom wall…but in true Maggie fashion, she broke the project into easy steps and gave us the confidence to begin. One of the best things about Maggie’s projects is the relaxed way she approaches things. With a true make-do attitude she encouraged us to piece together fabrics as needed and make the project our own. This mind-set is just one reason her finished pieces have such great character. 

(Photo courtesy of Patti Gagliardi)

We worked until lunch and then had a bit of free time to see the sights. Patti, a Boxwood and Berries veteran, graciously led the way to visit "Yore", a wonderful primitive shop in Gotham, Wisconsin. We wandered through lovely vignettes featuring antique furniture and fall decor.

A favorite corner at "Yore".

After our adventure we went back to the school room for dinner and a truly fabulous trunk show. Maggie displayed the pieces she stitched for her new book, "Buttonwood Farm", and shared her inspirations for each one. What an absolute treasure to hear her tips and creative process first hand!   

Maggie sharing inspirations from her latest book, "Buttonwood Farm".
(Photo courtesy of Patti Gagliardi)

Maggie's finished pieces were incredible...what a thrill to be able to  closely examine each piece! They are beautiful in the book, and even more so in person. I admit that I was hanging on Maggie's every word during this session...Patti graciously shared her photos with me.

 Jeanne and Maggie hold up the "Buttonwood Farm" wool bed cover. This was made from several cream wool blankets pieced together. The motifs were stitched from Maggie's collection of antique blue calicos and hand dyed wools.
(Photo courtesy of Patti Gagliardi)

 Jeanne offers kits for Maggie's designs in the shop. Of course I bought this one.

  Maggie's (and Stacy's) finished pieces were on display in a corner of the classroom for the duration of our stay. It was wonderful to be able to admire and study each piece at our leisure. What a treat! 

 The wool hearth rug "might" have been my favorite design from the new book...although it would be hard to pick just one. This is definitely on my to-do list.

Some of Maggie's small projects from the book.

I’m rather a slow stitcher and at the end of the day had only constructed the backing of the bed cover and cut out the endless small pieces of wool for appliquéing. Back in my motel room, I spread my project out on the bed and stitched down some of the larger motifs. It was very satisfying to see some progress on such a large project.

My night ended quietly with a phone call home, to tell Mr. Kattywhompus about my day. Poor man, he listened to every detail and even pretended to be interested. Mostly he was just happy to hear the delight in my voice. I feel blissfully asleep that night dreaming of cross stitch samplers and velvet sewing boxes…

Tune in next time to hear about our fabulous day with the extraordinary Stacy Nash...

Blessings to you,

(Please forgive the crazy spacing on's being temperamental today)


  1. So perfectly put! This is one event that never fails to exceed expectations! Thanks so much for the kind words and photo credits! It was such a pleasure to share a table with the woman behind "Small Town Stories from the Indiana Prairie"!
    Blessings, PAtti

  2. Oh my goodness!! You just had my "dream" trip!! I have spent hours admiring the Country Sampler website. They have so many beautiful things in their shop, and Maggie B. is my all time favorite. I can just spend hours reading her books. I just love her patterns!! So happy for you.......such an amazing trip!! Thank you so very much for sharing.....I loved every word!! All I can say!!! Wish the Pacific Northwest wasn't so far away!!
    So Happy for You!!

  3. Oh, what a dream come true. I get Jeanne's newsletter and often shop her online store. Hoping to attend next year, so glad you had such an awesome time. thanks for sharing.

  4. Oh Rhonda, I am so happy for you! It really sounds like you had such a great time!
    Hey, I have been to Spring Run Farm a few times and OMG, I love it! They are such nice and helpful people. I can literally go broke in there, I want everything!

  5. What a wonderful post Rhonda...I have so wanted to go to one of these SOME DAY!!! So close and yet so far it seems....can you believe I've never been to Spring Green? Love Maggie's designs and inimitable style - and Stacy is one of my absolute all-time favorites.....adore her work - so will be looking forward to hearing more of your journey....Have a wonderful Tuesday! Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

  6. I love Maggie and her patterns! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Rhonda, WOW!!! I sounds like you had the most wonderful time!!! How much fun and exciting to go and do that, and a bonus trip to YORE!!! Yippee!! Such eye candy there! I was just there a couple of weeks ago on my girls trip.. OLM

  8. Rhonda...what a wonderful class! I have been to The Country Sampler back in 2010 and it is a wonderful, wonderful shop. My dream would be to take a class from Maggie. I have a room full of Maggie-mades! In fact..I have a bunch of Stacy's things too. Both of them are such awesome designers and teachers. Lucky, lucky your...maybe when I retire, I can return to Spring Green!

  9. Rhonda,
    Your trip sounds like it was the "Mary Poppins" kind...."practically perfect in EVERY way!" I have wanted to attend one of those retreats ever since I first read about them and just hearing about them through you makes me want to go even more!! Maybe someday!!
    Thanks so much for sharing all the lovely pictures and stories! I too admire Maggie and Stacy and have books (a signed copy of Maggie's from a friend who saw her) and patterns from both of them!!!
    So happy your trip was even better than you could imagine!!
    Blessings and Hugs~~

  10. Rhonda how great to read our great gathering story on your blog. Today Els and I just talked about how we sometimes just sit still and think back how wonderful everything was.
    Hugs from the Netherlands,

  11. Hi Rhonda~

    Sounds like a wonderful time!! I look forward to your posts~you have a way with words. Such a treat to go to Yore~it's one of my favorite shops to visit.

    Have a wonderful day~Becky

  12. Wonderful, what a blessing to go and learn. I love her designs, and the photos. That cupboard picture is fabulous!