Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quilting Addiction

In February 1987, the Albert Lea Community Theater (also known as "ACT" cuz I guess AlbertLea is one word?) presented a musical called Quilters and I was the youngest member of the cast.

 It is a story of a pioneer woman and her six daughter which blends a series of interrelated scenes into a mosaic that demonstrates the challenges and rewards of frontier life. Each story centered on a various quilt block and depicted the life of a frontier woman: childhood, marriage, childbirth, spinsterhood, twisters, fire, illness and death (I had to die in one scene), but also the inspirational vision of simple human dignity and a woman's resolve in the face of adversity. The play ends with the various patches assembled into one glorious, brilliantly colorful quilt that qualified as the largest quilt I ever saw.  (The quilt was made by the Minnesota Quilters Guild for the Chanhassen Dinner Theater's production of Quilters.)

I fell in love with quilting during that play. I was unemployed at the time, so I spent hours at my sewing machine teaching myself how to do it. I will admit - I was horrible at it. I made my first real quilt (Log Cabin pattern) as a gift for a friend's wedding. I went a bit overboard and made it far too big. I pieced it and then tied it because I had no clue how to do actual quilting. 
Eventually, I got better and started making quilts for my nieces and nephews. That continued until about 1996 when I got involved with skating and focused all my energy and free time on that. Unfortunately, only five of the nine got quilts, so there are four nieces and nephews still waiting.

Then about three years ago, I started quilting again and my passion for this hobby has consumed me (along with much of my budget).
  • When the owners of the quilt shops know you by name, that might mean you're a "good customer." 
  • I always have several projects going at one time because I'm powerless over the allure of quality fabric and cool looking patterns. 
  • When I started packing my condo for moving last fall, I think I had more tubs of fabric than I did of my clothing. 
  • I can recognize a quilt pattern, tell you the name of the pattern and if I have one in process. 

 Last weekend, I went on my first quilters' retreat sponsored by the Calico Hutch (Hayward, MN)  Just me and about 95 other addicts at the Austin (MN) Conference Center. Everyone had their own table to lay out their paraphernalia like rotary cutters, templates and high-tech sewing machines.There was also one group who had their laptops set up with the Decorah Eagles on 24/7.
The staff of the Calico Hutch was wonderful to everyone and I'm already signed up for retreats in February and April of 2012.
This Carolyn Matson, owner of Calico Hutch, demonstrating how you can confuse a ruler with a handle with your phone.
Here's Katie Zenk, the blog master of Calico Hutch's blog and a wildly creative young woman. Plus she's a financial whiz.

And the photo above? That's the quilt I want to make next. It contains thousands of pieces. Thousands and thousands pieces. Doesn't that sound like fun??

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