The Quilter’s Apprentice

Quilts.  Old quilts meticulously stitched by great grandmothers… store bought, machine pieced quilts and ones made by different friends.  I love to look at them — studying the patterns and pieces, but I didn’t know I’d come to love them in the way I have.  I’ve always loved the kinship of customers and clerks in a fabric store, but I didn’t really understand the incredible and instant camaraderie that nowhere else seems to be experienced quite like what you’ll find in a quilt shoppe.   The instant “sisterhood” is unique.

As I walked with my friend,  I began to develop a love and appreciation for quilting I’d never known previously — actually, as each day passed, I became more and more intrigued by quilters themselves.  Quilting is not just the stitching of complimentary fabrics and pieces — it’s much more than that.

It seemed that the sheer anticipation alone of spending time in a quilt shoppe seemed to propel my friend and me to walk further and faster — her love for the craft was infectious. And I’m the grateful recipient of her understanding.

Imagine the shocked amazement of the ladies in the quilt shoppe when they discovered that not only were we from out of town with their shoppe as one of our primary destinations, but that we’d also just walked literally ten miles to get there!  Now, mind you, we didn’t originally set out knowing that it would be ten miles or that it would take us hours and would include traversing  through questionable or shady neighbourhoods.

Our husband’s were working on a job in a distant state and we were invited to come along for the week.  It would be one of the most delightful weeks we’ve ever spent anywhere — and for reasons I couldn’t have ever imagined.   Each day we’d set out on an adventure to find a quilt shoppe… my friend had a list of shoppes to visit. Along the way we came to several points — street names with which we were familiar, having seen them on “Mapquest” earlier in the morning in our hotel room.

Though we weren’t in the hotel room ninety seconds before I flushed my cellphone down the toilet, the rest of the trip was nothing but delightful.  I even began to enjoy the gentle ribbing I’d get from time to time — both from our friends, my own self and from some of the hotel employees who didn’t fail to greet me with a snicker… at first, with comments or questions such as,  Are you the one who flushed the cellphone down the toilet?!?  Later in the week some would greet me with a chuckle… and some comment that had to do with ringing pipes or someone leaving me an indistinguishable gurgling message.

But the most endearing things to me now are the reflections, instructions and memories I have from that week in Wichita.  Having never been to Kansas before, I had a great deal to learn about the land, the people and the notoriety of Wichita.  To that point, I only had an inkling of the depth and breadth of the aerospace industry there — and that, only because of one of the Northwest’s biggest employers: the Boeing Company.   Some years back, the Boeing Company decided to move part of its manufacturing operation to Wichita.  Other than that, I knew very little of the vast number of companies based there.

But even with all that and all that our husbands were doing there, my friend and I weren’t all that phased by the local economy or industry.  It was quilts — or quilt shoppes, rather, that we were interested in.   I’m not a quilter.  I don’t know quilts, I don’t know fabrics and I don’t know many quilters even.  But I do have an appreciation for sewing, crafting, creativity and now, for quilts.

My friend seemed to move effortlessly through the different areas in each quilt shoppe — she knew the names of the fabrics, the designer’s names, the types of quilts and techniques.  She easily connected with the shopkeepers and customers… and that’s when that revelation hit me regarding the “sisterhood” of quilters.  There seemed to be no competition — only praise for accomplishments and fabric choices and piecing.  In fact, in each shoppe we visited, there were groups of women gathered around a table working on quilts — individual quilts, group project quilts or assembling fabrics to place in kits for future quilts.

I was humbled and amazed… actually, I guess I might’ve even been envious at the fellowship they were obviously experiencing.  My friend, taking my arm, would continually guide me to another area to see some more patterns, more fabrics, different styles of quilts.  All the while I enjoyed our conversations and felt as though I had a walking wealth of information — my instructor and friend — as I made my way through the aisles touching bolt after bolt of fabric with deep appreciation for the groupings of patterns, textures and hues — my friend’s obvious love for whole process and product of quilting made me fall in love with them, too.

♥ May you always be blessed.


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