I received an email from Road to California a few days ago, inviting me to participate in a survey about the quilt industry. (One of their goals in holding the guild attendance challenge this year was to build their email list, so if you attended the show and signed in as a guild member, chances are good you received this email too.) Some of the questions were pretty straightforward: What age group were you in when you started quilting? Which of these national/international shows have you attended in the past year? Which of these national/international shows do you plan to attend in the next 5 years? (Okay, I fudged a little on that one. Hey, a girl can dream, right?) Some of them were harder: what is the financial value of all the quilting supplies you own, including machines/fabric/tools/notions? (Seriously, ARE there actually people out there who know exactly how much fabric they have in their stash, and can put an accurate dollar amount on it? I suppose anything’s possible, but I certainly don’t…)
And then there were the truly impossible: the questions asking about what kind of quilts you make and/or admire – but limiting you to only TWO selections from the answer list. You may have heard wailing and gnashing of teeth as I tried to decide which choices to eliminate. Because the truth is that I am a quilting omnivore. Possibly even a quilting gourmand. I have no restraint. I love them all.
The first quilt class I took taught traditional hand piecing, back in the olden days when everyone thought rotary cutters were just a fad. And from the very beginning, I was hooked. I picked star blocks for my four-block sampler class project, and one of them was Carpenter’s Wheel, because no one told me that beginners shouldn’t try a block that had 60 pieces and all those bias edges. I still love weird shapes and lots of little pieces, which may help explain why it takes me so long to actually finish anything.
A year or two later, I decided to give appliqué a try. If you were to ask me when I’m not actively working on an appliqué project, I’ll tell you that I really prefer piecing—but every time I find myself appliquéing something, I remember how much I do love it! And with so many different ways to appliqué—needle turn, back-basting, freezer paper on top, freezer paper underneath, reverse-appliqué, and on and on—no one could ever possibly get bored with it.
Then there are whole cloth quilts. Most quilts rely on a combination of construction, color, and quilting to impress a viewer. A whole cloth quilt, though, has to do all that work with just the quilting design. Well, mostly with the quilting design. Some of them do involve a lot of color—go check out the International Quilt Study Center’s “Quilt of the Month” (http://www.quiltstudy.org/about/quilt_of_the_month/) if you don’t believe me.
Much as I love traditional quilts, I also adore modern ones—the combination of crisp geometric motifs, wide expanses of negative space, and solid fabrics has an undeniable appeal. My first attempts at improvisational piecing caused a bit of stress to my precision-piecing self, but now that I’ve tried it a few times, I have to admit it’s occasionally fun to throw concerns about sharp points and matched seams to the winds!
I guess I could maybe draw a line at art quilts. I am reasonably sure I’ll never make one; I can’t create recognizable images with pencils or crayons or paint, so I don’t imagine I could do any better with fabric! Then again, I probably couldn’t eliminate them from the list either, because I do admire them, and marvel at the people whose skills and artistry are so different from my own.
So I can’t understand how the survey-writers expected us to narrow our choices down to just two! I really don’t remember how I ended up answering those questions—but the only way I could have answered honestly is if the options had included “all of the above”!
See you at the meeting,