Quilters are crazy. Admit it. We take
beautiful fabric for which we paid a decent chunk of change and chop it up into
little pieces simply to sew it all back together again. We could delve into
some psychoanalytical discussion on our compulsion to create, our need to
somehow derive order from and control elements in the world in which we live. But
that would be a real snoozer.
Simply put, I quilt because it makes me
At first I was drawn to the pretty
colors and textures found in fabric. Then I was shocked that I could actually
make something visually pleasing. The real hook, however, is the deep, rich and
vibrant friendships that have evolved through this shared passion.
I am a very unlikely and improbable
quilter. Think tomboy–I was the personification of that term as a child
growing up with all brothers on a fruit farm in Oregon. We were a family of
minimal means but possessed loads of love. To my mom's credit, she did try to
teach me to sew when I was 12. After a few hours of pure hell, we were both
liberated when we scooped the entire project into a welcoming garbage can, and I
was allowed to return to proper activities such as climbing trees and playing
My journey into quilting didn't begin
until I was married and starting a family in Anchorage, Alaska. I had always been very career-driven
and envisioned myself as more of a foreign war correspondent in Africa type than
a white picket fence person. With a need to get out of the house, I signed up
to go on a three-day community quilt retreat. The minute I pulled into the
parking lot I was greeted by two complete strangers who happily started hauling
in my sewing gear and insisted I sit next to them for the weekend. And wow!
What a weekend it was. The incessant laughter, stories, sharing of projects... That
was it! I was hooked. Instant female friendships. Having attended a dozen
various schools growing up–including three different high schools–I
assure you I was accustomed to boys being way more welcoming than girls. It
wasn't until that quilt retreat (and about a hundred more since then) that I realized
how wonderfully crazy and fun life is with the salt-of-the-earth-type ladies
who are drawn to quilting.
This was taken in Alaska as you head toward the Kenai Peninsula, where I attended so many quilt retreats over the years.
Friendships simply happen while
quilting with others. It reminds me of the puzzles my grandparents laid out on a
card table every holiday. People would walk by adding a few pieces throughout
the day. Sometimes I was working on the puzzle with my grandpa, or my brother,
or a cousin. Age didn't matter. We all shared a common focal point and purpose, and it made conversation relaxed and easy, natural and not forced. The puzzle facilitated positive resonance in
action. By being at that table you were engaged and actually slowed down long
enough to be present with others and openly listen and share in this grand
adventure we call life.
I am so grateful that quilting offers
that same opportunity for us to invest in our own happiness and the happiness
of others. Shared goofy moments, planning the next quilting escapade–the fun
and friendships just keep growing! Albert Einstein once said, "A question
that sometimes drives me hazy; am I or are the others crazy?" Well, thank
heavens I have yet to be stuck with a boring old normal person. I am immensely lucky
and grateful to be an active participant in the best kind of crazy–happy
quilting and beautiful friendships!
Marcia Harmening, of Happy Stash Quilts, is the author of Flip & Fuse Quilts, a new November release–pick up your copy today!
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