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Dragonfly Crafters Retreat House in Drifting provides focus for visitors

Amy Shetrom, left, talks to friend and fellow scrapbooker Jean Nevling during a recent visit to the Dragonfly Crafters Retreat house, located in Drifting.
Amy Shetrom, left, talks to friend and fellow scrapbooker Jean Nevling during a recent visit to the Dragonfly Crafters Retreat house, located in Drifting. Photo provided

It’s a cold Saturday afternoon and Jean Nevling is stumped as she sits in the crop room at the Dragonfly Crafters Retreat house.

Sprawled around the Smithmill resident are so many black-and-white photographs that the cutting mat and table are barely visible. She’s working on a heritage scrapbook of her husband’s family, and looks to her friends — fellow scrapbookers — for help.

“This is the page I’ve been dreading,” she said.

At the next table, Amy Shetrom, of Osceola Mills, takes a break from her Christmas memories scrapbook and listens to Nevling’s concern about a lack of dates on old school photographs. Shetrom offers a suggestion, and there would probably be input from third retreat guest Jean Camberg, too, if she weren’t in the next room making letters on a vinyl cutting machine.

It’s one of countless such exchanges that mark a typical visit to the Dragonfly Crafters Retreat house in Drifting, about 35 miles northwest of State College. Nevling, Shetrom and Camberg are veteran scrapbookers, but all say they need their craft-centric, getaway weekends.

“This is the only time I do it, when I get together with friends,” Shetrom said. “Here, you can block it off and think of nothing else.”

The Dragonfly has been available for renters — and geared toward crafters — since January 2014. With two bedrooms and capacity for five people, the house makes for a smaller crafters’ retreat than those that are sometimes held at hotels or event centers.

“This is a smaller scale, so it’s more intimate,” said Jodi Crawford, a seamstress from Jamestown, N.Y. Last summer, Crawford rented the house for a getaway weekend with her daughter and is now planning a crafting weekend with a few friends this spring.

“If one person wants to sew and another person wants to make cards, you can all do that, but you’re there together and still get to socialize with friends,” she said.

The cozy red house is located at the end of a quiet street without cellphone service, and to some crafters, that’s a big part of the appeal.

“The phone’s not ringing, the distraction isn’t there,” said Cindy Roselli, of Ridgway. “I can just concentrate and scrapbook the entire time.”

Camberg, of Brisbin, who spent her latest weekend at the Dragonfly working on a scrapbook of her niece’s wedding, agreed.

“It’s just about getting away from such hectic, busy lives that we all have and creating something that will last and be treasured, hopefully, by people when we’re gone,” she said.

Vicki Wittlinger owns the Dragonfly with her husband, Ward, and they live across the street. An adviser with the scrapbooking company Creative Memories, she has been to other crafters’ retreats, including one in Mechanicsburg.

“Once I went to one, I fell in love and said ‘I have to do this here,’ ” she said.

Crafts at the Dragonfly have been varied — there has been jewelry-making, knitting, card-making and scrapbooking — and Wittlinger aims to put everything a crafter needs within reach at the house. The crop room has five adjoined five-foot tables and the living room is stocked with supplies.

“There are clothespins where you can put up the pages you’re working on, so we can see each other’s work and help give each other ideas,” said Robin Dearing, a Tyrone resident who has stayed at the Dragonfly a few times with friends.

For breaks from crafting, the house has Wi-Fi, a television and access to hiking trails. Wittlinger holds card-making classes throughout the year at the house, as well as self-hosted weekends where people can come solo and craft with others.

So far, the Dragonfly has primarily been booked by friends and crafters that Wittlinger has met through more than a decade with Creative Memories, but she said she wants more people to use and enjoy the retreat. The house is where Ward Wittlinger grew up and where his mother lived until her death in 2013.

“It’s nice to look down here and see the lights on since my mother-in-law passed away,” Wittlinger said. “It’s just nice that people are using the house and making memories.”

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