This April A-to-Z Blog Challenge has added another dimension to my “one-new-activity-per-week” plan. “E” had me waving an election sign. “K” took me to King Weenie. But “Q”? Queen, Dairy wouldn’t cut it. Ditto for Quiznos and Q-Doba. I’ve even done qigong before. I have friends who used to live in Qatar, but that’s way outside my jurisdiction. I was in a quandary. Oh, Q…what’s a girl to do?
Quilting, that’s what. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve never done any quilting. I’m not super-adept at the domestic art forms, especially anything that requires needle and thread. I can sew on a button or a patch, but for the rest…well, if it can’t be done with a glue gun, then it can’t be done by me. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from making good on my “Q” post. Happily, Sharon from Old Town Quilting welcomed my visit.
At the studio in back of her house on Akin Street, Sharon makes quilt tops into finished quilts. I half expected to find her hunched over a little Bernina, but the quilts are stitched using two long arm machines that take up most of Sharon’s studio. One of the sewing machines is automated and follows downloaded patterns. It’s a great partnership of technology and crafting, which, from what Sharon told me, also describes her marriage. The other machine allows Sharon to design the stitching freehand. I saw examples of both, and they’re amazing.
As we talked about her work, Sharon told me that she often feels like a bartender (no, she didn’t offer me a martini at ten in the morning) because everyone who brings in a quilt also has a story to tell. Sometimes they’re happy stories, such as the mothers who have heirloom-worthy quilts made from their children’s favorite clothing. Sometimes, they’re not, and the quilts commemorate friends, family members, and pets who are sick, who are dying, who have passed on.
When I was young, my grandmother would always remind me not to sit on—or, heaven forbid, put my feet on—the quilts on her beds. Back then, I’m sure I felt that she was being overly strict. But now I think that she wanted me to have respect for the quilts—respect for the work and craftsmanship that went into them, and respect for what they represented.
I really enjoyed chatting with Sharon, who is a very friendly Minnesota transplant. After I returned home, I learned more about quilting at Womenfolk: The Art of Quilting. (Quilting in the covered wagon? Forget it. Most women had to walk.) So, thank you, letter Q, for giving me a reason to get my non-crafty self down to Old Town Quilting. I wonder if my family will mind if I start cutting their clothes into pieces...?