Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quilter's Guild

I decided to try out our local quilter's guild. They meet the first Thurs. of the month, and so I phoned up the president to find out what they were up to this month. It ends up they usually run a different "class" every month and learn a new skill. I don't know if I'm up for that -- I would rather get together and work on stuff I'm already doing, but we shall see what happens in the fall. This month, however, they were going out for supper and then having dessert and some project sharing at one woman's house. I was game for that, and Dave was willing to babysit, so off I went.

We went to the next town over where they have the closest to exotic food you can get in these parts -- Chineese Food. I carpooled with four other women, all quilters and all really nice and friendly. We got to the resteraunt and met up with another 12 or so women. It was really quite a fun time. Because I was new they made everyone go around and give their name and a fact about themselves (mostly that they quilted, or their chineese horoscope, that kind of thing) and then they started chatting and, eventually, eating. It was fun to be asked about what kind of quilting I did and what projects I was working on, instead of being asked what age my children were and wether they were in playschool or not. It was fun to hear about what the other women were up to, and to laugh and joke and hear about their varried lives and experiences. I was the youngest by a good 20 years, and many of these women had children, or grandchildren, my age.

After the meal we went to one of the women's lovely home. She had just remodelled this house, and it was really lovely. Lots of china, vintage furniture and stuff from estate sales, and of course quilts everywhere. First we had a guild meeting, where I was doled out my 20 raffle tickets to sell and informed of the way things worked at the guild. I had my phone number and email added to their list. Most amusing, I volunteered to take a photo of the quilt they were raffling and print some pictures of it, since many of the women had digital cameras but none of them actually knew how to print the photos off.

After this there was a really cool quilt show and tell. Everyone had brought two of three projects (I had been told small projects, so I brought the test run of my miniquilt, soxul furry's blanket and Aaron's quilt. There are some amazing quilters in this group. Some of the women have these beautiful, queen sized, intricately pieced projects. One woman hand quilts all her quilts and for one sampler she had done she made these sashing blocks and borders with rows of four squares set on point. Another woman showed a quilt she had been gathering fabrics for for about four years before she started making it. Some were the sort of quilters who shipped everything off to be machine quilted. Another woman had five wonderful quilt tops, none finished, because she was determined to hand quilt them herself. Another woman had made a small photo-based art quit that was really exquisite. Some of the others were more beginners and showed the projects they were working on, of the sample from the latest class they had taken.

When my turns came, the women stared at me as if I was from another world as I talked about on line sew alongs and Flikr swap groups. When I told them there was a resurgence of young quilters, they asked me where they were. When I told them they were all on the internet, I was greeted with silent disbeleif. Some of these women don't even own a computer. I was introducing them to a whole new world.

At the same time as I was dazzled by their intricate piecing skills and meticulous hand quilting, they seemed amazed at my new, modern take on quilting. It was a really fun exchange of ideas.

One of the things I loved about getting together with older women was their stories. Some of them are first generation Canadian, and remember when there was no running water or electricity in Saskatchewan. They would make off-handed comments like, "When my mother would finish a quilt top, all the women from the surrounding farms would come over and baste it together in a morning". A "younger" woman who loves to hand quilt mentioned that her grandmother refused to take quilting classes with her becuase she had worked on a farm where they had to take all the quilts apart in the summer, take out and wash the wool batting, and then put all the quilts back together again. There is such a wealth of knowledge and life experience in this group -- I'm excited about tapping into that.

The other thing that I loved was all the personalities. These women are old enough that they are set in their ways and don't really care what anyone thinks of them. Also they live in a small community, where they are known and have been known for years and years, so they have no reason to change. They are a small group who has obviously been together, on and off, for a long time. It was really fun to watch them interacting and joking and grumbling and doing all the things people do when they know each other well.

The meetings start up again in the fall, and if they are doing anything I'm interested in (maybe even if they're not) I might just have to show up and join them.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

It was really interesting to read about your guilt expereince. I've been thinking of joining our guild, but it is at least a half hour drive in middle of the night (says the mom of the 2 year old) so I don't think I'll do it. I went to their quilt show and was the youngest person there by at least two decades. I would love to bask in the older generation's quilting knowledge. I can just imagine what they would say about Flickr and quilt blogs and such. I am on a Dear Jane mailing list, though, and there are some 90 year old women on it! Kind of amazing!