Saturday, April 23, 2011

Generosity: The Kindness of Quilters

Quilters are very generous and giving people. Got a problem, ask and they'll try to help you out even if the problem is not quilt related. Got a question, they've got the answer. On occasion, they'll offer solutions even when you didn't know you had a problem. I belong to Piecemaker's Quilt Guild here in Calgary and my fellow members are kindness itself. They cannot wait to share what they know or point out a new technique. They never hesitate to help someone out or to make a quilt for charity.

Quilters have huge hearts.There are countless groups and guilds making quilts to help out someone else. Quilters spend hundreds of dollars and untold hours creating a quilt and then give it away to charity. People made homeless by disaster or job troubles, we've got a quilt for you. Meals-on-Wheels, you need place mats, look no further. Tiny premature babies separated from their parents by incubators, we've got a quilt to keep you feeling warm and loved. I've only just recently learned of a group here in Calgary that makes quilts for the police to give to children who have been removed from abusive homes. If there is a need, there is a group of quilters toiling away, with smiles on their faces, to fill that gap.

As you know, I am a longarm quilter. It took a long time for me to take the plunge and purchase that machine. It was a huge step for me, but after much soul searching and discussion with my husband I took that plunge. That was over six years ago. I've loved every minute of work during that time. (Well, except for those days where nothing goes right!)
When I finally received my machine, I joined an informal group of longarmers here in Calgary. They are, down to the very last member, a wonderful group of ladies. They are always ready to share their knowledge and are eager to break out the coffee pot if you need someone to vent to when difficulties arise.

When I was learning to longarm I spent a lot of time on the phone to the ladies in my group asking questions. One in particular offered me everything she knew and if there was something she didn't know, she helped me find answers. I had some mighty dumb questions (yes there are dumb questions, but they still need answers) and I made some pretty horrendous mistakes, but she helped me out each and every time. She talked me through problems, sent me to web-sites, loaned me books and videos and offered constructive criticism. To her I say thank you. Thank you Jane G., you've helped me build my business and I owe you more than words can ever express. Call me and I'll buy you lunch.

The Orchids in my kitchen window. Of nine plants,
eight are in bloom or are forming buds. I offer
them for your enjoyment and as a virtual
bouquet of thanks to Jane and all those other
quilters who are making a difference.

I like to think that I've returned the favor too. So far, she hasn't needed my help, but a lot of other new quilters have called me up asking for help and I pitch in where I can.

It has been my policy to be an open book regarding quilting. If you have a question, ask me and I'll tell you what I know. I don't profess to be an expert, but I am good at what I do, getting better and I love to give advice. (Who doesn't?) 
It is my opinion (and isn't what this blog is all about?) that we're all in this together. Sharing what we know and do only helps us learn and grow and makes us a stronger community. Wanting to give back for all the help I received when I started out is what lead me to the latest iron in my fire.

I've talked before about life getting in the way of quilting and other fun things, but I have to be honest here... sometimes I'm my own worst enemy. I've got a lot going on in my life and I keep finding new things to do. So far I am a quilter, longarm quilter, quilting teacher, pattern designer, knitter, crocheter, reader, blogger, novelist (unpublished, but it eats a lot of time), wife, mother, daughter, assistant lacrosse coach, pet owner, and now the Longarm Liaison for Wonderfil Threads (

I love their threads and use a lot of them, so when they approached me about working for them I agreed. I get to troubleshoot for other longarmers who are having troubles with Wonderfil threads, or who are just looking to learn more about the products and their usage. It is fabulous! I've met (over the phone and in person) a lot of really nice people and it gives a real satisfaction when I am able to help someone out. This is not something I took on without thinking, or in haste.

It takes a lot of time, but their product is one I believe in. so, I signed myself up to help them out. Its been fun and its been frustrating, but when a fellow longarm quilter calls me up and tells me that her new threads are perfect, or that my advice helped out and that things are running smoothly again it feels real nice to know I've given back some of what was given to me.

It's a circle of giving. Next time someone asks you a question or needs advice, help them out. In time it will come back to you and you'll be glad you came through for someone else.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you give back? Do you make charity quilts or share your knowledge with other quilters? Let me know, I would love to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back Away From the Vacuum

A variation of the Bali bag I
made for my sister. She
loves purple and ducks. One
of the few projects I
got bound while at
my folks.
 Life is a funny thing. Bad things happen, good things happen and still life goes on. My life has been upside down lately. Lots of stuff going on. Good and bad. I won't bore you with details that's not the point of this posting.

The point is that sometimes we need to step back, let go and relax. With things being so crazy busy around here, I let a few things slide and you know what? Everything and everyone came through fine. I'm not a house keeper by any stretch of the imagination, but while I was spending so much time at my folks house, I did not do one lick of housework when I spent the odd day at home. Did I feel guilty? Absolutely! At first. Then I decided that it really didn't matter that there were cat hair dust bunnies the size of rabbits rolling around the living room. I admit, dirty dishes do bother me and I kept after those and kept the kitchen tidy with the help of my darling hubby. He kept the place picked up and the bathrooms clean. But the sweeping, dusting and vacuuming went by the wayside.

Guess what people, the world didn't explode. Nothing bad happened. As a bonus, when I did get around to vacuuming, it only took me an extra ten minutes to catch up. That's what I call time management at its finest.

While I was gone, I didn't get to spend nearly as much time as I wanted with my children, husband and friends, but through the marvel of technology and text messaging, we kept in touch. No, it wasn't like being together in person, but it was a comfort to text them and vent a bit when things were tough, and to share the lighter moments as well.

Back to the relaxing part. When I first came home I spent a full week just relaxing. I didn't call anyone. I didn't do any work, not even finishing up my accounting for taxes. I sat in my chair with a cup of coffee, read books and did some blog reading. When I felt so inclined I spent time in my studio puttering about. I cleaned it, I sewing long strips together for a scrap quilt. I watched a couple movies and did some hand binding. In short, I did only what I felt like doing. I skipped the detail work and customer quilts hung in their queue calling me but I avoided them.

The most important thing I did do was say NO. When hubby said do you want to go to Home Depot, I said no thanks. When the kids called to see if I was making supper, I said no. That's not my usual way but you know what? I didn't feel guilty, not one bit. Okay, maybe a little. But I needed that time to unwind.

Now, I'm back after it. Things are back to their usual busy state and I'm loving it. I'm perked up, refreshed and raring to go. Just as soon as I finish my coffee.