Christa Campbell takes the name “Runaway Quilters” literally.
“I still have small children, so this is literally my chance to run away,” she said with a smile. “I come for the people, I’ve met a lot of nice friends. We gather and laugh.”
Sept. 18-22, 2017, marked the 31st year for the Runaway Quilters to gather. They have called the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center home since 1991. Campbell has been coming for 15 years.
“Margaret Scott (one of the coordinators who lives in Island, Ky.) worked in cooperative extension and I worked in cooperative extension in Georgia,” Campbell said. “We met while serving on a national committee. She told me about Runaway.”
Campbell lives in Ninety Six, S.C., a town so named because the nearest trading post was 96 miles away. In the early days, she came with her friend Janie Blalock, who was attending her 18th Runaway this year. Blalock now lives six hours away from Campbell, in Barwick, Ga.
“This is our one time a year to see each other,” Blalock said. “I teach a lot at home. I never get to do classes just for me. I can get away and have fun. I’d miss these girls terribly if I couldn’t come.”
On Sept. 19, the two were making spools — fabric squares that are donated for a drawing. The more spools you submit, the better the chances of winning. Winners get to take the spools home and make a quilt, Campbell said.
She began quilting in 1996, when she started in cooperative extension.
“I was taught by Janie and a group of ladies called the ‘Piecemakers,’” Campbell said.
Holly Yingling, from Mt. Vernon, Ind., was teaching a class on the Radiant Star quilt. It was her first time at Runaway, which needed some additional instructors this year.
“I’m loving it,” she said. “Everyone is so talented and so willing to share their gifts.”
She owns her own quilting shop in Evansville, Ind., and an online store as well. “I’m teaching (Radiant Star) different than the pattern. Everyone’s doing great,” she said.
One of the people taking her class was newcomer Vicky Ayer, from Madisonville, Ky.
“One of my good friends is a vendor here,” Ayer said. “I’ve heard people talk about this for years, but now that I’m retired, I can finally come.” She came for just the day to get a feel for the event, but wants to return for more.
“The buildings and the grounds are beautiful,” she said. “I’ve gotten to meet people from Georgia, Illinois and Florida.
Several completed quilts hung along the balcony in the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center courtyard for everyone to enjoy.