Penny Kimmel is Retiring

April, 2021:  You may be aware that our one and only SGS President and Retreat Director, Penny Kimmel, has been dealing with health concerns for the past several months.  She has informed us that she needs to step down from her Stitching Girls responsibilities to focus on her health.  Since we can't yet get together to party with her, we invite you to post your thoughts, memories, stories, photos and wishes on our SGS Facebook page where all of us, including Penny, can share in this celebratory memory fest.

Or you can Send your stories & photos to and we'll post them here & on Facebook.

These POSTs are arranged from Newest to Oldest - for the whole story, so  START at the BOTTOM and work back to the to.

Stories and Memories Shared with Penny by Members & Friends 

2019 MOW - Penny & American Hero Quilt
1994 FALL - Penny's first Class as Teacher - Polar Fleece
1988 Clotilde at Fall Retreat
1994 FALL - Penny's first Class as Teacher - Polar Fleece
1992 &1993 Bring & Brag
1994 - Penny, Tauna, Sand, & Doris stuffing Goodie Bags

POSTED May 10, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

The first class Penny taught was Polar Fleece in 1994. The other photo is Penny working with Tauna, Sandy and Doris stuffing Retreat Goodie Bags, also from 1994.   Peggy

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Cheryl Scheeler - I took that class. Made a bunch of socks and hats and a jacket.

Sandy Hancock - That was me about 70 lbs ago. 😳😊

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POSTED May 6, 2021 - by Penny Kimmel

Happy Birthday Cat! Remember the mini when we celebrated yours and Marilee b-days with musical chairs and Mother Supreme cracked us all up by refusing to move. Have a great birthday, sorry there is no group sewing fun involved. Maybe next year!
Love you!  Penny


Sandy Hancock - Oh, I had forgotten about that! Thanks for the memory, and happy birthday to you, Cat!

Cat Shepherdk - Thanks Penny - I do remember that weekend and can’t wait for more group sewing times again - 🧵😘 Love you too 💕

Mary Hoagland-Scher - But who ended upwith the rubber chicken?

Leslie Gardner - Happy birthday, Cat!

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POSTED May 6, 2021 - by Marlys Powell

So, 19 years ago as I was aimlessly wandering through the aisles of the Expo Pavilion at the Western Washington Fairgrounds during Sew Expo, this lady pulled me out of the crowd and flashed a brochure in my face about the Camp Burton Sewing Retreat.  I had a little old lady friend whom I thought to be very intelligent and life-loving who was constantly running off to a rug hooking camp here or there around the country and I thought to myself, "I wonder if there's something like that for sewing, too?" Sure enough....

That was the day--six days after I'd gotten the call to go to Portland and meet my parents at the hospital because Mom had been diagnosed with cancer.  It was the start of a five-month hellish roller coaster toward my mother's demise.  I'd lived up in the Seattle region for four years and had managed to make only one friend--and she moved away six months later, but... I show up to this sewing camp at Burton and suddenly I have a whole cadre of like-minded, life-long friends who have shaped much of my happiness over these nearly two decades. We've raised our kids and lost our parents, spouses, and friends, but never each other.  Lorraine Kimmel made that happen for countless ladies over the years.  I'm so thankful that Penny Kimmel pulled me out of the crowd that day and gave me a whole new lease on life! I've looked forward to getting together with these ladies for camps, shop hops, field trips, vacations, Zoom chats, phone calls, overnighters, and drive-by drop offs, and my life has been enriched by their encouragement and camaraderie beyond measure!    Thanks Penn!


Penny Kimmel - Marlys, I just knew you were a garment sewer the first time I saw you. You were and are so stylist. And I am so glad you are a member of the Stitching Girls. You add a lot to the group. Yes my mom was pretty wonderful. Thanks for sharing that memory. Such good times we have had and will continue to have as we navigate through this covid time. Never fear the retreats will continue in one form or another.

Priscilla Schleigh - love that story. 20 years ago i went to the Sew Expo and it really changed the direction of my life. Moved to Vashon with a truck filled with my fabrics and sewing machine. the rest is history of meeting Jim and then Lorraine I do miss her. ❤️

Sandy Hancock - Marlys, I am so glad that Penny found you! I've enjoyed getting to know you and treasure our friendship.

Barb Renshaw - I sure wished that I could have known all of you more, but living in Missouri makes it a little more challenging. However, through my daughter Kristina, I have come to grow friendships with a few of you, and I am so grateful , and blessed for it!!!🥰

Sandy Hancock - I have to remind myself that I'm not the only Stitching Girl in Missouri!  I'm in O'Fallon MO. We should get together next time Kristina is in town!.

Linda Vorenkamp - I am truly amazed of the talent and imagination of all the sewing ladies. I have continued to be inspired by each sewing retreat and the comoradery of all of the wonderful women I have been so fortunate to meet along the years. Thank you Penny Kimmel for introducing me to this new adventure!

Seen by 43 on Facebook

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1988 Penny's first Retreat
1988 - Penny as photographer at her 1st Retreat
1988 Penny & Lorraine with Clotilde
1988 - Penny & Lorraine with Clotilde
1988 Clotilde at Fall Retreat
1988 - Clotilde at Fall Retreat
1992 &1993 Bring & Brag
1992 & 1993 - Penny at Bring & Brag with Jace (on right)
1993  Muriel's So Special Class
1993 - Penny in Muriel's So Special Sewing Class

POSTED May 2, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

Penny just brought me the old Sewing Retreat photo albums and here is some of what I found!

The first Sewing Retreat Penny came to was the Fall 1988 Retreat at Camp Burton on Vashon Island, where she served as photographer - I'm sure she sewed a little too.  It was the year that our special guest speaker was Clotilde who had a nationwide notions business that featured sewing tips as well.  It was very exciting to have her visit.

I think Penny spent more time behind the camera in those days because there are very few photos of her, unlike these more recent days!

Here Penny is again at Bring and Brag in 1992 and in 1993 when she brought her son Jace with her. Jace became like the Retreat mascot.  He was so cute!

In 1993, I found this pic of Penny taking Muriel Sprague’s “So-Special Sewing” class which focused on: “learning how to master our sewing machines.”  This class featured many “how-to” tips on:
1. Machine hems and edge finishes.
2. Machine gathering.
3. Several elastic installations.
4. How to use attachments.
5. When to use which presser foot.
6. How to use extra stitch pattern built into your machine.
7. Several uses for twin needles and other specialty needles.
8. And several other techniques.
This class by Muriel was a huge favorite and was repeated several times.

There are lots more photos to share.  I’ll keep adding them bit by bit.  I hope others will find photos and stories about Penny to share too.


Kris Agostini - Great pictures and memories!

Pat Chubb - Peggy, these are amazing pictures, but your narrative really brings them to life!

Seen by 39 on Facebook

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2019 MOW - Penny & American Hero Quilt
2019 MOW - Penny piecing her American Hero Quilt

POSTED April 27, 2021 - by Cathy Walker

If you were sitting across the room, you watched a few Stitchin’ Girls gather around a collection of quilting squares, appreciative of the history in what they were sorting through (created by our Mother Superior, treasured by our Reverend Mother), yet a bit reticent about the possibility here.  Know that they represent the pinnacle of quilting expertise; but from where I sat, their skepticism was palpable.

She smiled. She took a breath, in and out.  She giggled a bit nervously.  She announced to all the project as doable, no problem here; but perhaps not so confident within.  After all, tackling this project had been waiting for years.  Then she began.  And as she progressed, her confidence visibly began to coalesce.  She never expressed frustration (I’ve learned because, for her, real frustration just doesn’t exist).  She stepped away to assess what direction it was growing, taking on a life of its own.  She moved back in, repositioning maybe one square.  No false turns, each placement settling in as if it had always been exactly in this place.  And in the end, she took on a glow of expansive pride…a creation launched, independent.  A UFO resolved.

Later, at another gathering I did inquire if the topper made it to the final step, layered and stitched into a quilt.  Yes, she smiled.  I imagine her mother’s quilt now has a place of honor in her home, in her heart.

Just as it has been for the Stichin’ Girls Society “project”.  She assembled, she basted, she guided, she trimmed, she laughed, she listened, she proposed, she accepted, she celebrated, she stitched.  This is no UFO.  This is a creation launched, independent. Thank you, my lady.  You drew me from observing from the free room into the sisterhood center. Thank you!

Love, Cathy Walker, (The Former Costume Lady)

Seen by 40 on Facebook

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2015 video of 30 years
2015 - Celebrating 30 Years of Sewing Retreats!

POSTED April 26, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

If you are interested in Stitching Girls history, here is the link to the 30th Anniversary video that Penny created.

30th Anniversary of Sewing Retreats - 2015

Seen by 33 on Facebook

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POSTED April 25, 2021 - by Pat Chubb

Thank you Cheryl, Penny2, Mary, all the Board members and volunteers stepping up to pick up the torch(es) and carry on for Daughter Superior, Penny Kimmel.  There aren’t enough superlatives to lard this post with to commend Penny for all she has done for the SGS lo, these many years.  We will try to carry on that fine balance of stitchery, friendship and shenanigans that is the hallmark of SGS retreats, in honor of our Penny. ❤️


Seen by 37 on Facebook

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2019 MOW Project Evaluation
2019 MOW - Peggy & Penny deciding what piece goes where
on joint American Hero Quilt - MOW 2019

POSTED April 25, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

Over the years people have always gotten our names mixed up Peggy, Penny / Penny, Peggy - even Penny's mother Lorraine!  We just laughed.


Penny Specht - I remember taking this photo of you two lovely ladies as you were designing that quilt! Such a team!!!

Harriott Balmer - Such a cute pic of two special ladies!

Peggy Garber - Thanks for taking this photo, Penny. I love it.

Jini Nastiuk - Truly an excellent photo!! 😊

Kris Agostinik - Very cute pic! Two beautiful ladies!💕

Penny Specht - Penny and I commiserated over how many people had mistakenly called each of us Peggy over the years then each of us called each other Peggy by mistake at least once and had to crack up about that!

Seen by 26 on Facebook

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Hong Kong fabric shopping
Sew Sew Good Girls shopping for fabric -Hong Kong 1997
Hong Kong briefcase shopping
Peggy & Penny shopping for a briefcase - Hong Kon 1997
2019 MOW Quilt Project
Penny & Peggy celebrate finishing a co-pieced American Hero Quilt from collection of old blocks from Lorraine - MOW 2019

POSTED April 25, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

Many of you have heard already that our amazing fearless leader and Daughter Superior is stepping down from her SGS responsibilities to focus on her health.  We want all of you to help us celebrate all the years that she has been at our helm.  I know you are full of stories and photos.

We, your Board, hope you will share a whole bunch of them here.

Here's my story and I'm sticking to it - - -

I first met Penny through her mother, Lorraine, whom I was helping put on our very first Sewing Retreats way back.  But I really got to know Penny when she and I were roommates on the "Sew Sew Good Girls" Hong Kong Fabric Shopping excursion organized by Marilee Cole in 1997, the year before Hong Kong returned to Chinese control.  It was a great trip with lots of interesting excursions, shopping and dining.  As a divorcee, Penny even got proposals of marriage from men who wanted to get out of Hong Kong before China took it back.

Penny and I found we had so many interests in common that we even became business partners in a company we called Pengy LLC, where we managed to start way more projects than we ever finished.  But we worked well together and when she started taking on more and more tasks to run the Sewing Retreats, I was right there to help out, like I helped her mother. We had to write a special non-competition clause when we applied for the 501(c)(3) status starting the Stitching Girls Society in 2009 because of our business connections.

I’ve lots more stories to tell and pictures to show. But we want to hear from the rest of you too.

Best Wishes, Penny. We’re going to miss having you telling us what to do all the time!


Penny Specht - Penny Kimmel is such an inspiration to so many of us! I first met her at one of the sewing retreats at Camp Burton in 2009 and was delighted to share my name with such an amazing gal.  I remember wishing she could relax and enjoy the retreat like the rest of us because she was always taking care of any problem and focusing on making sure everything was running smoothly.  As we gradually got to know each other over many more retreats we kept finding odd things about ourselves that we had in common, some good and some sad but the # was downright eerie!  I truly admire her leadership, her commitment to service, her sense of humor, her strength against any adversity, her sewing talents, her thrifty ways and her sharp mind.  I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with as many friends and we all love her and offer our support!  You are magnificent, Penny Kimmel and I thank you profusely for all you have done for me and all of our stitching sisters! 💜💜💜

Penny Specht - Wow , I’ve never seen Penny with long hair!!  (re: briefcase shopping)

Peggy Garber - Believe it or not, my hair was long then too, just pulled back and harder to see.

Mike McKay - You guys still look awesome!

Penny Specht - You two were so funny as you were putting this together!!!  (re: assembling quilt)

Pat Chubb - I think I contributed an orphan block to this ... or maybe a trim piece.

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Keep those Stories coming!

© 2021