Finding Wisdom

I have been missing my intown quilt friends lately, and the many aspects of the creativity it fosters in my life. It’s been 3 years in suburbia and I haven’t found that group yet. To be fair, I’ve spent a large amount of time renovating my house and generally getting settled  – finding friends, volunteering at the school, etc. – so figuring out a quilt groove in these parts was not high on my priority list. But now it is, and wow! I’m ready with a vengence!  I know  I’ll get there but it will take time. In the meantime I find myself going into town to my favorite quilt shop more and more and to my intown guild meetings again. Maybe this is my new groove. I’m okay with that.

I’ve been reconnecting in many ways and it feels good for my personal spirt and my creative one. It’s refreshing to feel like I’m finding me again, since she’s been gone for a few years. Creatively I’ve been in a funk, but personally, as well. Both of those lights are starting to shine again. I have spent the last year and a half working on a HUGE project (that I can reveal later this summer) and while I am super proud of what I did, it took  a lot of time and energy. More on that later, though.

Camaraderie is a real thing when it comes to art, y’all, and while I can use technology to help, like a facetime chat with this gal, this gal or texting photos to friends, the in person interaction can make or break a project. Different eyes pick up on things you miss, and friends can give you suggestions how to make a project better or enhance it in some way. Without a doubt I can say that the collaboration with friends has been a big help in my quilt journey and has changed the way I see things with many quilts – color, design, technique. We can all learn from each other. Young, old, new quilter, old quilter.

I’ve started going back to guild meetings, even if some days it means sitting in ridiculous traffic, and I’ve joined a local guild, that thankfully doesn’t require me sitting in ridiculous traffic. One item of note about each guild is that the groups, while completely different in style – one is more like a large bee and the other is a “real” guild – is that they are made up of women that are, for the most part, older than me, which leads me to the real topic of this post.

I was chatting with my friend Mary Mattimoe the other day about wisdom with quilters. She and I often laugh that we are the youngest members of our Intown guild. We are also the most absent since she lives across the country now and I live a half hour away without traffic. The thing we both agree on is the amount of knowledge in that group. It’s fascinating. Many of those women have been sewing and quilting longer than I’ve been alive, if that’s any indication of what they can offer.

Without a doubt I know if I have a question on almost anything quilt related one of them will know the answer, or know where to direct me to find it. I’m not an art quilter but my friend Casey is amazing! If I need to know something about painting or dyeing fabric, she’s my gal. Mary Lou creates the most amazing applique and English Paper Piecing ever. She’s been a HUGE source of wisdom on that for years. If I’m stuck on a design issue, Taffy and Regina usually have me covered. All these women are 20 years my senior. All these women are incredible.  All these women are my friends. And that’s just four of the members. I can think of how each person in that guild has offered me advice in some way or another in the 12 or so years I have known them. That’s a lot of words and stitches shared. It’s not all about quilting either – childcare, family, friends – the list is long.

They can share because they know a thing or two about life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve presented a problem to any of these women only to find they have a solution. Often one I hadn’t thought of or a modification of something I had. Their perspective is different because they HAVE been there. And what makes it better is that these ladies aren’t my mother – they are my friends – so the dynamic is different. Don’t get me wrong, I respect my mom seven ways ’til Sunday, but sometimes advice is taken differently when it doesn’t come from your mom.

I’ve spoken with quilters my age, or younger, that think one way or another on this but for me, especially as it relates to older, more traditional quilters, well, I think there is no greater way to learn about quilting than from others. It was an oral history for hundreds of years before books were around on the subject. Mothers and grandmothers taught the art of quilting to daughters and granddaughters. Why in the world wouldn’t I want older quilters to share their knowledge of quilting with me? I always welcome the advice with open arms. I’m well aware that many people have been quilting longer than the 40+ years I’ve been alive and they may know a thing or two. And the advice is free. The friendship is, too. I can say that I have learned more about quilting from this group of women than I have from anywhere else.

So I guess my point is this, we can all learn from each other. Older quilters have a lot to share. Don’t discount them because your style is different. The inverse is true for younger quilters. Hand piecing can be just as rewarding as machine piecing. Computer guided long arms offer as much as sewing on your domestic. It’s all a matter of opinion and what works best for you. What you enjoy.

But at the end of the day, if you are in a room with a bunch of ladies you don’t know but you all clearly share the same interests, strike up a conversation. Ask for help. You’ll never know what you can learn from it. Great friendships are sometimes born by asking for help. You just have to be willing.






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