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Crafty Getaways

When the thermometer dips below 0°F., there's no better coping mechanism than seeking out the warmth of kindred souls.
Women's craft retreats are a hot, year-round trend. Women enjoy learning in the company of other women. A retreat enables them to scale to new heights of a favorite hobby and to carve out a precious block of time to do it. The most popular retreat pastimes revolve around scrapbooking, quilting, weaving, spinning, knitting, and beading.
Kelly VanVliet and Beth Jackley (pictured above) gathered with 14 other women for a 12-hour crafting retreat in The Nest, the refurbished upstairs of Hen & Chicks Studio, a Conrad, Iowa, Main Street business owned by Heidi Kaisand. If anyone forgets to pack supplies or fabric, it's a quick trip downstairs to the first-floor quilt shop.
Kaisand is the former editor of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, and she is also a Creative Memories consultant. 
Hen & Chicks Studio recently hosted its first Pinterest party. "The women chose four favorite Pinterest projects, created them, and took them home for free," Kaisand says.
Hen & Chicks Studio is located about an hour northeast of Des Moines, Iowa. The next 12-hour crafting retreat is March 9. To sign up for a newsletter, to check the monthly classes, or to find out more about booking a six-day retreat, call 641/366-3336 or visit
A year ago, Patty Meads-Hanson hosted a Girls' Night Out at the Farm open house at Memory Lane Crafting Retreat, near Orangeville, Illinois. The recently remodeled farmhouse accommodates up to nine. It has a fully equipped kitchen with two ovens.
"The workroom is a beautiful, south-facing room with plenty of light, overlooking a pond and the working farm," Hanson says. 
Orangeville is about an hour from Madison, Wisconsin; Dubuque, Iowa; and Rockford, Illinois. It's less than three hours from Chicago, Peoria, or Milwaukee.
"We have suggestions for day trips and local restaurants," she says. "We find that guests enjoy being on a working farm and watching the combining or haymaking."
To learn more, visit, call 815/868-2363 or email
In its first year, the Czech Inn Bed & Breakfast and Retreat near Hayward, Minnesota, has attracted scrapbookers, quilters, and milestone birthday celebrations. Joe Pacovsky grew up on a nearby farm, and after working as an engineer in Wisconsin, he is returning to his roots to tend a small farm and cattle herd. His wife, Katherine, a former nurse, had no farm background.
"Joe is 100% Bohemian, and that's why it's called the Czech Inn," she says. Katherine, whose family is Irish, says she's enjoyed learning how to make her mother-in-law's recipes for kolaches and other ethnic treats.
The new mission-style home, furnished with antiques and modern comforts, is in a wooded setting that can be enjoyed from a lovely patio. The Inn has five guest rooms, each with its own private bath. The meeting/crafting room is 750 square feet. This space has large windows, and cutting and crafting tables. The kitchen is fully equipped, there is a 47-inch HDTV in the sitting room, and complementary Wi-Fi is available to guests.
"Our guests come in, and we hear them having a good time, laughing and giggling," Katherine says. "It's like being in business to make people happy."
The Czech Inn Bed & Breakfast and Retreat is located 4 miles off Interstate 90, one and a half hours south of Minneapolis/St. Paul, one hour west of Rochester, and three hours north of Des Moines. The Calico Hutch, a premiere quilt shop is less than 2 miles away. For more about Czech Inn Bed & Breakfast and Retreat, call 507/373-2477. 
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