The most beautiful part of quilt-making for me is giving the quilt to the person intended and watching their reaction. In March of 2006 the president of my guild made the announcement that a young woman she knows, who lost her husband about 9 years before, is looking for someone to make a quilt for her from clothing of his that she'd saved after he passed away. I went home to think about it. Two days later I called the guild president and said I'd be interested. She made the necessary phone calls and I met with Mary (not her real name) a few weeks later.
She arrived at my home with a huge bin of his old clothing. This included t-shirts, jeans, polo shirts, oxford shirts and a few ties. As we went through the clothing I thought this would be two quilts, at least the first being a t-shirt quilt and the second a feathered star. As we sorted we talked about her husband and the important memories. I wanted, no, needed to know, a bit about this man and this family so that the quilts would reflect them as much as possible. By the end of our time together I felt confident that the project would work well.
After posting on a couple of message boards I learned that the t-shirt quilts weren’t that difficult to make. One of my friends sent directions. Although not straight set the t-shirt quilt was done rather quickly. She was thrilled and before making the second quilt she asked me to make quilt blocks for his mom and all of his brothers and sisters. I made up a couple of blocks, gave some prices and after some discussion completed the project in time for her to get them to the family members for Christmas.
On to quilt number two - the feathered star. I looked all over for a feathered star pattern; found a couple however for some reason I was having trouble going from the directions to making the actual quilt blocks. I cannot tell you how frustrating that was! I really wanted to have this quilt completed sooner rather than later. At this point it had been nearly a year since I took on the project.
In April I went to the Quilters Heritage Celebration and with a little encouragement from a friend I bought Marsh McCloskeys “Feathered Star Quilt Blocks I – Really Hard Blocks That Take a Long Time to Make”. That night I began reading the book and all Ms. McCloskey’s explanations made so much sense to me! Whew!
Later that week I cut out the pieces for 5 feathered star blocks. I did as much chain piecing as I could, keeping all of the fabrics straight. I finished one block completely and then was able to work on the other four blocks all at the same time. The whole quilt was completed within 4 weeks. I called Mary and let her know the quilt was done and she could come pick it up.
When Mary arrived, we chatted for a couple of minutes. Then I folded the quilt out on the floor for her to see. She knelt down, touching the fabric and the look on her face was something amazing. All of her memories of this man that she loved so much just swept over her face in one moment. And me, I was just honored to be there.
When my daughter was first born she slept in a sling on my chest while I sewed her baby quilt. Later I would lull her to sleep in her bouncy seat as it rocked on the table in time with my machine. When she learned how to crawl she stole small squares of fabric from my scrap bin and and would cry when I tried to take them back.
Eventually when she started to talk and I made her quilted story books and she learned her animals from their squishy pages. When I was pregnant with my Son and she was just barely 2 she helped me sort my scraps into color boxes so I could start his baby quilt. Often when I'm auditioning fabrics on the design wall she adds "interesting" selections to the piles. On occassion when she hears my machine running she begins a chant of Sew Sew Sew as she skips around the house. I take her with me to the fabric stores and each time she insists on a piece (1/8th of a yard) just for her. She has them all stashed on her shelf in my sewing room.
Then one day a few weeks ago I was out of energy because of chemotherapy treatments and hadn't sewn in weeks. I came downstairs to find her sitting at my sewing machine. She had turned the machine on all by herself and had piles of her stash fabric at her feet. With all the honesty and joy of a 2 1/2 Year Old she looked at me and said... "I sew for you Mommy!" I knew in that moment that I had shared my joy in Quilting with her and she, in her own way, had understood that I couldn't enjoy it.
Whether it be giving them a teaching aid or asking them for a helping hand, children are never too young to learn the Joy of Fabric :)
Though I now have to unplug my Sewing machine petal! (Just in Case) :)
For eighteen years, I worked as a mental health therapist: Master’s degree in Social Work and a California state clinical social worker license. I was often struck by how many clients would state that they felt better “simply” by someone intently listening to them. The great value that group therapy had for its members was taking private thoughts (their “life story”) and making them public. That innate need that all people have to be known and to connect—to be seen, to be heard and, yes, even to learn from others.
I was reminded of my therapy days recently by photographing two events in June 2007, Book Group Expo (www.bookgroupexpo.com) and The Quilt Show (www.thequiltshow.com). Both events occurred in different states, at different times, and involved different people and demonstrated that by listening and embracing their member’s comments they improved upon their success. They also shared a common theme: members publicly pursuing their (mostly) private passions.
The first event was held in San Jose, California. Ann Kent, one of the co-founders, belonged to a local book group. Like other book groups, they often discover unknown (mostly fiction) authors and regularly meet at someone’s house for a discussion of the latest “group-read” book. These groups are a curious notion—you read privately and discuss publicly.
Ann wanted to create a physical event and a virtual (web) place where other book groups could connect. She dreamt of a place where the authors and readers could exchange ideas about the books they have read and discuss how book groups could profit from lessons learned. This June, Book Group Expo celebrated its second year anniversary.
Khaled Hosseini, the best selling author of “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” was the featured author, as he was last year. He admitted in a recent PBS interview, that when he wrote “The Kite Runner” that this book could have been a template of how not how to write a best seller. Upon its publication, it was not seen as a success. However, book groups and independent book stores saw the book’s value and by sheer word of mouth, slowly built the infrastructure for the book’s success. Khaled said it was important to return to this year’s Book Group Expo event as a way to pay homage to these book groups.
Many expo participants stated how excited they were to meet like-minded book group members, in a salon setting, and to listen to, and interact with their favorite authors. Building on the lessons learned from the first show and this year’s success, Book Group Expo already has plans to create similar events in Seattle and Minneapolis.
The second event that occurred in June 2007 was the second set of tapings of The Quilt Show in La Veta, Colorado. Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims wanted to create an event (The Quilt Show) and a web place where the “World Quilt Community” of quilters can, like book group members, connect, discuss, and view their quilt designs. One of the major sections of this web site is the posting of quilts that the world community members have made—featuring some very creative work. These quilters pursue their quilting passions alone and then via the web site in concert with others.
At The Quilt Show tapings, the audience arrived early for the tapings and sat enraptured listening to the guests, often taking notes, and making those “ah!” exclamations when they learned something new from one of the guests or from Alex and Ricky. They interacted with the guests and co-hosts.
As co-hosts, Alex and Ricky pledged to acknowledge the compliments and suggestions from their web-site and studio audience members to keep doing this, less of that, and more of this. With the addition of several new crew members (new director, editor, and fourth video camera operator) this set of shows improved upon the success and “lessons learned” from the first set of show tapings which resulted in a faster-paced, more technique-driven set of shows. Like Khaled Hosseini, Ricky and Alex continue to paid homage to those quilters who have embraced this first of a kind event and web site created by and for quilters.
In the tapings, Alex and Ricky continued to present passionate, well-known artists and authors whose design work and books continue to amaze those in the audience--even the non-quilting video crew expressed their wonderment.
One show pursued a serious but life-enriching topic that kept the audience (and crew) near tears. Another show featured a quilter whose pursuit and subsequent quilt left the audience spellbound—how many hours did she say she spent on that quilt? She’s joking, right? No one has that much patience! She also kept a journal of her quilt work, which resulted in the book, “The 1776 Quilt.” Later in the show she revealed, an even larger and significantly more complex quilt design in progress.
Both of these events in June 2007 celebrated the private and the public pursuit of a primal need—the creating, telling, and connecting of life stories though the use of words and fabric. Each event acknowledged the underpinning of that old Beach Boy’s song lyric: “I need a mess of help to stand alone”: every event needs an audience, every author needs a reader, and every quilter needs a viewer.
As a photographer at these two events, I photographed people listening, intently. As a former therapist at these two events, I found them to be good therapy for all concerned.
My husband is an avid weekend fisherman. I and my camera tag along on when he is practicing for an upcoming tournament. He has learned that anytime he wants to either go fishing or anywhere, he can ask if I want to "ride" to take pictures. Now I must admit, he is "fairly" patient when I yell STOP! Who better than a fisherman to understand you must "seize the moment". One that relishes a fish biting at a particular moment, on a certain lure, during a certain moon phase, at a certain water temperture and a certain tide stage must be patient! Hmmmm, kinda reminds me of another hobby of mine. Like so many other quilters, my best designs come to me after midnight. (Oh yes, fisherman have to get a VERY early start on tournament day, too!)
My husband has visited local truck dealerships for about two years looking for the ideal truck, in a certain color, with a certain horsepower engine and a certain price. Oh yes it also had to be a diesel and 4 wheel drive. Afterall, he needs something to pull his boat to the tournaments. I finally caved when he found the perfect truck - BUY IT!
Since you can't drive a 4 wheel drive truck in the water and a break in his tournament schedule. It was time to take to the woods (four wheels drives like it). Of course, I was invited along to take pictures. Twenty miles off the highway and finally on a dirt road, we happened upon a field of cotton. STOP!!!!!
Quilting, photography and fishing are perfect companions. But without the 4 wheel drive, the woods, and the cotton field, I would not have the treasures I brought home with me.
The photos are treasures, but so is the renewed perspective of all of the important things in my life. My husband and family, my photography and quilting, his fishing and his truck.
Oh yes, the cotton field. The plants were in full bloom when I captured the moment. One that will lead to certain cotton bolls, processed into the certain fabrics that end up in the amazing colors that brighten our world! This is truly where a quilt begins!
(P.S. I had a lot of extra photo time as the truck broke down and we had to wait for someone to pick us up! But that's another story.)
This is the brief tale of the Quiltersons at their first major show! For our Lissie it is her first quilt show EVER!! (L to R: Kristi, Marysu, Margaret, Lissie)
We chose QO because it would be about halfway from our home in Virginia and her home outside Buffalo. We left at a sychronized departure time and pulled into the hotel at exactly the same time --halfway it truly was! Little did we know what a delight was in store for the next four days.
QO is held at Hershey Lodge, so lots of chocolate was the order of each day, of course. But the quilts!! The fantastic, fabulous quilts!! Each day became an odyssey of its own and time well spent just ooooing and ahhhing, as well as trying to catch every vendor.
In addition to the show entries was a gorgeous exhibit of antique quilts, and the exhibit of all the $100,000 Quilt winners. Who could ask for a more in depth education of quilting at its finest?
As the mother of Margaret and Lissie, and the mother-in-law of Kristi, it was such a joy to be sharing this experience with the new generation of quilters, but the surprise for them was that most of the attendees were my age!! I must admit, though, they are the ones who got me into quilting in the first place!
We left fulfilled and then some, full of chocolates and quilts--who could ask for more?
My girlfriends and I had finally planned a road trip this summer. The four of us had not done this for 16 years. Two have moved since then so it was exciting to get together again. We met in Deadwood, SD and stayed in a cabin in the hills. The phone reception in the Black Hills wasn't very good so I decided to just turn off my cell phone instead of running down the batteries while it kept searching for service.
I guess that was my first mistake. We had left home on Thurs. and on Saturday while having lunch in Rapid City before we headed for the Black Hills Quilt show I thought I should turn on my phone. Well, I was surprise to have several voice messages. My family usually doesn't call me when I am on one of my quilting trips. First there was a message from my daughter, asking me to call home. The second message was my daughter again telling me I needed to call home. The third message was from my husband. He was calling to tell me that he had an emergency appendectomy the night before!
Well, I knew that if he was calling me himself he must be doing OK. I called him at the hospital and told him how sorry I was not to have been there. He would be in the hospital until Monday. This was only Sat. and I knew that he would be in good hands with the doctors and nurses at the hospital, so I decided I may as well stay as planned and come home Sunday! What could I do anyway? Going to sit at the hospital or go to a quilt show with my friends - was there really a choice! LOL The quit show was great! I won a couple of ribbons, shopped at the vendors and spent quality time with my friends.
I now have to hear about how I abandoned my poor hubby for a quilt show, how he had to drive himself to the hospital, I didn't come rushing home to hold his hand and just where he is on my list of priorities. I am never going to live it down! But he sure has fun teasing me about it! It should get him sympathy for quite a while from everyone he knows. Cellphones - why would you want to leave them on when you are on a quilting road trip?
The photo above is of my quilt Circling South which won a first place ribbon at the Black Hills Quilt Show in Rapid City, SD.
I was recently vacationing in Greece and Turkey. While in Athens on a bus tour, I looked up and saw this sign on the side of a building. Luckily, I happened to have my camera ready and caught this shot. It really is a "New Day!"
As a quilter for the past twenty something years, I have been involved in a lot of charity quilting. My guild has made quilts for tornado victims, Ronald McDonald House, hospital nurseries, to name a few.
I've also become involved in Greyhound adoption, and have had a number of retired racing greyhounds over the years. One of the ways I have been able to help raise money for our local adoption group (Race the Wind Greyhound Adoption of Wichita, Kansas) is to make quilts and wall hangings that have been auctioned off at our annual fund raiser. The quilt for this year has 49 pictures of retired racing greyhounds that have been placed in homes around the country and Canada! I used hand dyed fabrics, and printed the pictures on fabric. It is machine pieced and machine quilted.
The person who purchased this quilt lives in Miami and her daughter is involved in a quilt guild there. So, I know it went to a good home!
I was so excited about entering a quilt for the first time in my quilt guild's show. I decided to do an art quilt. This was a fused, raw edged applique wall hanging with free motion embroidery and quilting. The applique went together beautifully, but when I started the free motion embroidery, I started getting missed stitches and I was breaking needles. I went through the 'drill' of checking to make sure I was doing everything right. I made sure I had the right needle, I adjusted the tension, the thread was quality embroidery thread, etc. My machine was fairly new and a top of the line machine. I just couldn't figure out what was going wrong!
I did continue working on the quilt; I felt I had an obligation to myself to get this in the show. It was just a few days before the show and I was so frustrated that I called the guild president, partly to vent my frustration and to ask her if I should give up or finish the quilt. Of course, she said CONTINUE! and gave me lots of (much needed)encouragement.
Needless to say, I did finish my wallhanging. My quilt won an honorable mention, so I guess I did more things right than wrong! I learned a few things, too. I learned about thread painting and free motion embroidery and quilting and I learned perserverance. I learned that even though things don't always go your way, somehow they usually turn out OK. I learned that when in doubt, call a friend.
A few days after the show, when I went to use my sewing machine, I realized I had not dropped the feed dogs during the free motion sewing. I almost cried, because I knew there was nothing wrong with my machine! Just the operator!
Don't give up!
Katie and Loren live not to far from me, we would get together often. While there I would covet one of her quilts, Grandmothers Garden. It was made by Lorens Great Aunt, it is in the fabrics that I love most.
Well, Loren (74) lost his life last year to a heart attach, he had been doing chemo for kidney cancer and went through with flying colors but his heart was not up to the chemo. Loren was a voluteer paramedic and firefighter for our little community. He was loved by everyone who came into contact with him, our community honored him just before he died with the Citizen of the Year award.
I decided to make Katie a quilt with Lorens clothes, his shirts for the blocks (crazy patch), his pants for the sashing, and his patches from the fire department and paramedics for the corner stones. Needless to say Katie dearly loves and treasures her piece of Loren.
A few weeks later Katie called to invite me over so she could take pictures of us with the quilt. Just before leaving Katie gave me the Grandmothers Garden quilt, she knew that Loren would want me to have it. What a treasure, we both now have great treasures to love.