“I Want You to Quilt” Former Home & Graden TV Host Fires Up Faithful in Auburn
By Daniel Hartill , Staff Writer Thursday, October 9, 2008
AUBURN - More than 200 women from around Maine and New Hampshire gathered Wednesday to listen to Alex Anderson - a quilting show impresario - talk about the nimble-fingered "sport of quilting."
"I don't know where you are in your journey," said Anderson, who hosted "Simply Quilting" on cable's Home & Garden TV for 11 years. "I just want you to quilt."
Most of the participants, who paid $55 each to attend, were already converts to the world of patchwork, running stitches and tacking. They weren't there to learn the basics. Rather, they fed on Anderson's energy. For more than an hour, the Livermore, Calif., woman described the books and TV shows that created her niche of fame.
She talked about awkwardly beginning the two professions, writing her first how-to book over a weekend and starting her TV show after a few guest appearances on a crafter's cable program.
"Let me tell you, that's the first time my kids even cared what I do for a living," Anderson said of the offer to create her own show. "Simply Quilting" thrived for 493 episodes.
When it was canceled, angry quilters sent pleas to the network on swatches. Anderson said she was hurt by the cancellation but she adjusted. So must the quilters.
"I have some other news for you," she quipped. "'Gilligan's Island' is over."
Anderson has since gone online with a Webcast titled "The Quilt Show."
Throughout her talk, Anderson showed slides of some of her quilts and talked about techniques, from hand- stitching to working with the most modern machines.
She also showed off the work of friends, praising them with, "I love, love, love this one!"
Her enthusiasm, not her practical advice, was what brought Donna Kassa of Auburn to the event.
"She's very, very passionate," said Kassa, who has been making quilts since she was a girl.
Geraldine Thompson of Poland hoped to energize herself to share the craft, which Anderson called "passing the thimble."
The visit was sponsored in part by an Auburn shop, Cote's Sewing and Fabric Center. Most of the attendees are regulars at the store, president Ron Blake said.
The stop was also sponsored by Swiss sewing machine manufacturer Bernina. There, too, Anderson made her pitch with gusto, describing the first time she used the hand-assembled machine.
"It was like that first great kiss you get as a freshman in high school," she said.