The Best Kind of Crazy

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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 happy.

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 tackle football.

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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