Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Blogger, JESSICA

Every once in a while an opportunity comes up that you just don't want to miss.  If you have been on one, you know that quilt retreats can be wonderful, powerful, healing pockets of time where positive energy fills the room and friendships are made or strengthened.  Through shared love of fabric and creating, and an appreciation for one another's style, an atmosphere is formed that renews the soul in ways few other activities can. 
You can see why I had to go.  I would have loved to spend the three days, but real life has boundaries and limitations sometimes, so I told V I would only make it on Saturday.  I just resolved to make the most of the time I had.
I'm sure the other retreaters will extol the wonders of the weekend, including Victoria's genuine hospitality, amazing skills in the kitchen, and generosity in the form of FABRIC SCRAPS.  Believe me, I experienced and appreciated all of that as well (though I missed out on some really good cooking I hear..), but I'd like to talk about something that crossed my mind that day, totally unexpected.

A few hours into my time at V's retreat, the ladies decided to take a walk over to the American Folk Art Museum .  I had never been there before and though I desperately wanted to sew as much as I could, I thought it was a more valuable opportunity to join the group and take the trip together because one of the main reasons I wanted to attend the retreat was to get to spend time with these intriguing women.  As we browsed the exhibit, it was interesting to see which quilters were pulled to each quilt, and to hear their thoughts on the works of quilters that came before us.
I sat for a while on a bench in front of this quilt made by an unidentified artist in New England between 1800-1820.  I found myself wondering about the questions started simply enough-- Why if the rest of the quilt was quilted with straight lines echoing the squares, did she decide to quilt the inner border with curved, radiating shapes?  If this was on the bed, how was the rest of the room decorated?  How dramatic would those dark border triangles have looked hanging over the edges of the bed?  How did it end up in the museum in such good shape, 200 years later?  Maybe her husband didn't like it..  And that's how it started.  I spend the rest of the hour at the museum wondering about the women behind the quilts and if these (at the museum) were their "good" quilts, what did their other quilts look like?
This line of thinking applies to the retreat and modern-day quilters as well.  I left a comment on Nifty's blog, and I'll re-write it here:  "Visiting the retreaters' blogs after spending time with them in person has been really cool.  All of the sudden someone's blogging style, quilting style, and IRL personality merge into a more complete picture of the quilter herself.  Seeing the big picture makes me appreciate blogland and quilting so much more."  We have a really awesome community here, and thanks to the internet, we are able to document it as it happens.  I don't know if people will still be able to read this blog 200 years from now, but I am grateful for the many things that quilt blogs have brought to my life, this retreat included.  Thanks V.

Thank you Jessica!  I agree with you 100%
This great blog community has brought so many of us together...Gotta love that.
great thoughts, thanks for sharing!

Tomorrow's Guest Blogger, is Helen (no blog) or otherwise known as, HelenNoBlog


  1. Beautiful post Jessica! Enjoyed reading every word if it!

  2. All those thoughts swirl in my head when I walk into history too.....and what happened to those quilters?
    Did they live a full and happy life?
    We'll never know but we get to enjoy what they have left.

    thanks Jessica, lovely post.
    It was indeed a pleasure to meet you.

  3. You're right, it is interesting to muse about long-ago quilters, and fun to blog and meet interesting people that way. But how do you avoid becoming bogged in the blog or trapped in the 'net and not getting any quilts actually sewn?!

  4. If I could press a "like" button here, I would...

  5. You are so right Jessica: quilting - and quilters - are awesome! I enjoyed your thoughtful post today, thank you!

  6. Thank you, Jessica! What a beautiful post. Yes, there is so much to think about all those quilt makers, what was going on in their minds, and the stories behind those quilts. I, too, am so happy to have met you, with many thanks to the internet and quilting blogs. I hope to see you again soon.

  7. So profound, lovely, and true! I too wish you would have been able to be there for the whole weekend. But we all understand that family commitments are always number one. Isn't it amazing how just one weekend can bring familiar souls together for a long time to come?

  8. Very well said, Jessica. These posts all make me wish I could have been there with this great group of ladies...

    Thanks for the Guest posts!

  9. I treasure my quilt made for me by my great aunt Anna. She had no children, so I was the lucky girl who got her handmade Grandmother's Garden. I only saw her once when she traveled across the country for a visit, but I felt connected to her and to quilting because of that gift. I am grateful for all my quilt connections... blogging included!

  10. Yes, Jessica the retreat was amazing and I really wished you had more time to be with us. I often think about the lives of ordinary women of the past and present and how lives intersect and bond thru quilting. Bonnie

  11. I love the idea of the women behind the quilts. The maker of something and how their story shapes what they make. It is wonderful to see those things come together in a retreat! Hooray for the opportunity!

  12. Great post, Jessica! And I especially appreciated that pic at the Folk Art Museum....I'm heading for NYC tomorrow for a whole weekend of the quilt shows, mainly the Red & White show. So glad to see that the FOM lets you get right up close to the quilts! Yippee! I'm so happy I could just burst!

  13. thanks for the comments everybody~ and thanks to V for letting me take over your blog for the day :)
    (hope things got better in peru..)
    greta-- you made me laugh out loud!

  14. Musing from the prospective of one who DIDN'T attend the retreat, the generosity of sharing and the ideas that come alive in the visuals on all the blogs is informative, helpful, inclusive. It kind of brings a new definition to the word SHARING. Glad I live in your world. BH

  15. What a great post! I was amazed to see the dates on that quilt you were musing over - who would have expected someone from that era to produce something like that? I find myself wondering where the fabrics came from - were they from clothing, or curtains, or perhaps an extravagant purchase specifically for the quilt? Thanks for sharing!


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