How did this journey begin? As one might expect, it began with a quilt. Actually, truth be told, it began with curtains. I have always had an affinity for patchwork items, not just quilts. In the year 2000, my husband and I bought our first house, and of course I got busy decorating it. I had chosen a quilt block that resembled a pansy to be modified into valances for my daughter’s bedroom, and had headed to my local quilt shop to find fabric that would coordinate with her room. I had visited this quilt shop often, and even recently joined the guild that met there. The shop owner and I had gotten to know each other on these visits, and I think she knew I was needing an excuse to get out of the house and talk to grown ups! I was really loving being a stay at home mom, but Catherine and I were starting to need a break from each other. Linda had just purchased a building in which she planned to house the fabric shop and a cafe to serve lunch. She would also become a long-arm machine dealer, and operate her professional quilting business there. She asked me if I would be interested in working there, and I was happy to say “yes!”
The first position I held in the shop was in the kitchen. I spent my mornings helping to bake cookies and other yummy treats, and my afternoons making gourmet style sandwiches for lunch. I really enjoyed going to work, meeting great people, and learning about cooking and baking. The kitchen was not exactly my “sweet spot” though, and I soon found myself watching Linda quilt and wondering if I had it in me to be a machine quilt artist. I asked her one day if I could give it a try…and as they say…the rest is history! It wasn’t long before I was quilting two days a week, starting out with pantographs, moving up to allover designs, and eventually custom work. I had found my passion. I found myself looking forward to Tuesday morning when I would begin my two-day work week getting lost in the process of quilting. Linda was an excellent teacher, and she showed me the ins and outs of quilting. Her husband was a Gammill technician, and he taught me how to care for the machine. I loved working at the shop, I had made some great friends there, and the creative energy was a gift to me.
It was during this time that on a sunny Tuesday commute the news reported a strange plane accident in New York City. I was on my way to work at the quilt shop when I heard the first reports, and as that day progressed, I was comforted to know that even though the world as I knew it had changed forever, I was learning about it surrounded by a caring group of people who had become like family to me. I’ll never forget the moment I realized the gravity of that event when my husband called and told me that the pentagon was burning. I remember realizing with absolute clarity that it was only a matter of time before he would be called to serve in what would become a war. It’s funny how crisis can cause bonds to form between each other. I am so thankful for the fact that on that day I was able to stand in a circle of friendship and pray for the victims of that day and the future of our country.
I think that it was during this season that I realized what a very special community I had become a part of. Quilting is not just about patchwork and batting. There is joy to be found in choosing just the right fabrics to achieve a vision of a quilt, it’s really fun to see the various patterns that value and color can create, but the true beauty in quilting lies in the hearts of the people who are passionate about this art-form. I have never experienced a more generous spirit than in the quilting community. It was a wonderful experience to work there, and I was blessed to have learned so much about myself and my passion.
As 2002 came to a close, I found myself considering leaving the shop. I had become pregnant again, and couldn’t justify leaving two kids at home with their grandma. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right thing to do. My quilting family sent me off with a baby shower and well wishes. I was with great sadness that I closed that chapter in my life, and even now, I have a hard time believing myself what happened soon after….but more on that next time!
Tell me about your own steps into the quilting community. What led you to join this circle of artists and what role do you find yourself playing these days?