In thinking about telling you about my Color Grid series, I realized I needed to go WAY back. As is true for all of us, each decision in our lives leads us to the next decision and so on until we get to the place where we are standing now. And I hope by sharing this, it will make you think about how you got to your place on the road.
For a good portion of my life I wanted to be a writer. I even went to graduate school to become one. I wrote an entire thesis–a collection of personal essays–before I got to the fork in the road of my life where I took a quilt class.
I stood at that fork for a while. Should I keep writing–after all I had just spent four years of my life focused on that exact thing–sitting at a keyboard stringing words together. Or should I sit in front of another machine and see what happens?
I battled with myself about this. While my first son napped, I would stitch, and all the while I would be telling myself “ You REALLY should be writing.” Finally, a friend said to me, “Why are you conflicted? If you feel passionately about quilting, then quilt!” She was right. I just needed to trust the process. If you know what your dream is, it does seem kind of silly not to pursue it.
In hindsight, it is a heck of a lot easier to be a visual artist than a writer when you have toddlers around. They like sitting in your lap while you sew. They like dumping your fabric stash on the floor and rearranging it. They like unwinding spools of thread and letting the cat chase them.
In the fall of 2001, I walked into the Calico Whale in Valdez to enroll in my first quilt class.
It was a Debbie Caffrey Mystery Quilt.
Last September, I had the great fortunate to teach with Debbie at the Valdez Quilt Festival in Valdez, Alaska. Not only is Debbie an amazing pattern designer, she is also a spectacular teacher and an all around special person. And while I am thinking about that moment, I should also say if you have not attended a Valdez Quilt Festival you really should. The women who put on this show do on a fantastic job of creating an eclectic teacher rooster as well as many fun social activities related to quilting.
But I am getting ahead of myself here. In the story I am telling right now, I’m standing at the cashier register talking to Trudy Koszarek, owner of the Calico Whale. I had brought in a cardboard box which contained my fabric collection at the time.
My original stash consisted of pieces of fabric from garage sales, vintage scraps of upholstery fabric, some polyester blends, and left over fabric from clothing I had made. It was a true hodgepodge. I know now that most quilt store owners would be appalled that I would even suggest using such fabric.
But not Trudy, she was kind and helpful and made me feel that it was just fine if I made do with what I had.
From the very beginning, the quilting community of Valdez was welcoming and encouraging. You all know who you are. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for encouraging and supporting my work.