The Mahone Bay Quilter's Guild has just finished setting up their new blog pages. It is a nice site and worth a visit especially if you quilt. (see the link on the right bottom of this page) There are links to some interesting quilter/textile artists who are pretty engaged in the world.
Strangely, it slipped my mind to mention my quilting. It is a major part of my life and yet, I took it for granted. Quilting has to be one of the most sustainable activities I do. Perhaps the buying of too much fabric or more than one sewing machine or traveling to buy the too much fabric are practices that could stand examination, but it is the community of quilters that makes this one of the most important, sustainable things in my life.
Before we were married, I took up quilting. That's nearly 30 years ago.
We went to a cottage on Skeleton Lake, Ontario, and as usual, for every pound of luggage and food, there were two pounds of books to be carted in an open run-about that took us across the lake. I had several quilt books and read them cover to cover. I designed about 20 quilts that week even though I was nowhere near a piece of fabric.
Back at home, I started my first quilt. (green one) Then kids came along, and I made them each a crib quilt using cast off clothing because we were broke. Phoebe's quilt (red one) is made partially from a textile that wrapped a borrowed christening dress when she was three. This was all done on my own, without another quilter for miles, I thought.
We moved to the other end of Toronto and I found the West End Toronto Quilter's Guild, found a community of women, eventually had a part time job in a quilting shop, learned how to really quilt and sew (but I never did get excited about using pins or rulers) and then we moved to Nova Scotia.
Here I was quickly drawn into the Mayflower Quilter's Guild and from that start, when about 50 or so people gathered at the Bloomfield Community Centre, I met several women who have been the back bone of my sanity here in Nova Scotia. I met Meredith, who one day showed up with a bunch of Mayflower flowers as a welcoming gift. She lives down the road and we have supported each other over the years on a wide variety of issues. I met Jamie who used to live down the street from me in Toronto but we didn't know it at the time and she is now one of a small group of women who I meet with weekly. Barb R. who is probably the best known quilter in Nova Scotia. She organizes the Mayflower Retreat (another sanctuary for women who need a break from family), and works endlessly on behalf of quilting. I met Ruth who is gracious beyond description. Eventually I bumped into Linda who is an amazingly gifted quilter, one of my weekly group members plus she drives. Gradually, I built up a network of women friends who are truly friends.
This catalogue cover from "Talking Threads" is from a quilt exhibition at the Mary Black Gallery that 10 of us undertook, some time ago now.
You know how you sometimes get to be chums with other women because they have kids in the same school, or you are going to the same classes or jobs with them, or they live down the street. These are friendly friends, people who have something in common, who understand that the wheels of society move on through civil and congenial behaviour. A true and real friend is someone who you have more than one thing in common with, someone who can stand your weird bits and someone whose weird bits you can stand. A true friend is someone who joins you when life is good and who stands by, sometimes in the shadows, when life is bad.
My weekly group made this quilt as a group effort and sold it to pay for a group trip away. It was good fun.
Just last week, two quilting friends and I were asked to help sort out the sewing areas of my friend Jane, who died 8 months ago. I still miss Jane, sometimes so much I find myself crying about it. Jane who laughed, who had a wicked sense of humour, who had little time for fools but managed to never make that fool feel like one, who brought a quality of joy into my life. Jane didn't quilt for as many years, but her work is witty and beautifully made. We sorted through so many spools of thread, we packed up tons of bits of fabric and notions, we looked at the fabric stash that has yet to be sorted out and we talked with her husband about photos he showed us of when Jane was young and vibrant. I wept in the car home and my two friends didn't judge me. They let me cry and work through my grief. I am thankful for that kindness.
(our annual Christmas eat good food and exchange books event)
Over and over again, I am the recipient of kindness, joy, humour, trying times and patience testers from my world of women friends. Some days I could hide in a closet and not come out, but when I see the work that women like Barb R. do to keep us all connected and engaged, I am deeply grateful. Because it is so hard to go through life outside of community. We need the noise and the irritation of a crowd to give us texture, to measure our choices against, to make sure our values are on track or if they aren't on track with others, are they values that we can bring back to our community (I'm thinking local diet here ladies) and we need community because inside of it, despite its flaws, we need the several people who hold our hearts in their hearts and give us love.