Retreat center offers solitude for creative minds
At the base of Gunters Mountain, in Kennamer Cove, sits a hub for creative minds seeking refuge from the chaos of everyday life.
The Calico Cove is a retreat center available for rent by groups of crafters who want to get away with other like-minded folks to focus on working on whatever craft they choose. For many, being surrounded by nature helps get creative juices flowing, and that’s the mission of The Calico Cove.
The Justice family owned hunting property in Kennamer Cove when they learned a cottage on an adjacent lot was available. “It was so beautiful,” Jodie Justice says. “God gave us the idea to have a retreat center, and we knew it would be the perfect place for it.”
Kennamer Cove is located between Grant and Woodville. The property’s location off the main road feels very secluded and peaceful. “You feel like you’re far away from civilization, but you’re really not,” she says.
The family purchased the property in 2020, and, like for so many others that year, things were challenging. “Everything was up in the air and the pandemic began, but we had faith it would all be alright,” Justice says. The family remodeled the cottage during that time and was able to officially open The Calico Cove in February 2021.
Justice says her husband, Lance, was instrumental in making The Calico Cove what it is today. “He is my No. 1 investor and the driving force behind making this dream happen for us,” she says.
Their daughters, Carolina and Cassidy, also help with the operations for the retreat center.
“Things started a little slow for us, but in 2022 we were able to participate in the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville quilt show and people were ready to start coming to retreats again,” Justice says. Booking has been steady ever since, and she feels like The Calico Cove is really meeting a need in the crafting community.
The Justices chose the name The Calico Cove because the word calico is used to describe printed fabrics. Jodie Justice already has an Etsy shop — Calico Dry Goods — where she sells fabric and notions, so she decided that would be a fitting name for the cottage. The Calico Cove was created to be a serene space, with a simple, calming color palette. “I just wanted it to be an escape,” she says.
There is a large workspace for crafters and quilters, outfitted with tables and chairs. Common areas include a living room area, a dining room, and a full kitchen. There is one large bedroom for guests to sleep in. “It’s perfect for small, intimate retreats,” she says.
Guests can sit and enjoy the views from the front porch, which offers stunning sunsets that reflect the brilliant colors of the pond on the property.
“It’s like a grown-up version of summer camp or an adult sleepover,” Justice says.
Stitched with Love
Justice‘s love for quilting began with a magazine. She and a friend were looking at an article and decided they would like to try it out as a hobby. She was newly married, looking for a new hobby, and quilting intrigued her and seemed like a perfect fit. That hobby has turned into a 23-year-long journey.
When Justice began her first quilt, she didn’t even have a sewing machine. She would meticulously hand-cut and hand-piece all of the elements for the quilt.
“It was a mess,” she says with a laugh.
While many people would have given up after a short time, Justice was determined to see the project through. Her first full quilt took her about three or four years to complete, and she even did the actual quilting by hand, too.
“I’m just the kind of person who has to finish what I start,” she says.
That first quilt was a row quilt that alternated rows of star blocks and rows of applique vines and flowers in pink, red, yellow and blue. “It was not a beginner quilt,” she says.
Her perseverance paid off, as she began to learn more about the art of quilting. “I knew the finished product would be worth it,” she says.
During the first few years, along with the main quilt she began, Justice also made several baby quilts, which are much smaller. Over the years, she received guidance from people in her life, but her mother sewed a bit, so she had an idea of basic sewing. “This was before YouTube was really popular, and I didn’t have a lot of online resources,” she says.
With so many different types of patterns to choose from, it can be overwhelming for new quilters to choose. Justice’s favorite pattern is any variation of a star pattern. “I really love all the different beautiful fabrics. I love patterns and repeating patterns. With quilting, you can pick from endless beautiful fabrics, put the pieces together, and make art,” she says.
In earlier times, some considered quilts artwork and they were displayed in homes to showcase the maker’s handiwork. For others, quilting was born out of a necessity to provide cover for cold nights. Many people in Appalachia recall members of their family, immediate and extended, collectively working on a quilt around a large frame suspended from the ceiling.
No matter the circumstance, quilting is tightly woven into our heritage, encouraging community and camaraderie. Justice helps encourage those relationships by providing a creative space where crafters can focus on their art.
“I think they just love to come here and not have any other responsibilities they have to focus on,” she says. “When they’re here, they don’t have to worry about anything else. They just get to concentrate on making their projects and bonding with their friends.”
Quilting is not the only craft welcome at The Calico Cove. While the majority of visitors do quilt, many bring scrapbooking supplies and various other projects.
“Quilting is therapeutic. It’s good just to get your mind focused on something besides what’s going on in the world,” Justice says.