Friends in fabric

Okay, brace yourselves. This post will be corny. And long. But an interview I did today for a future Quilts and More profile reminded me that I've been meaning to write about some of the friends I've made through quilting. (And check out the pattern the pattern for this totally wonderful knitted corn!)

I know not everyone in quilting world is as wonderful as they seem—not much in life is, I'm afraid. It's quite possible that when people talk with me I'm seeing their most charming selves; after all, the profiles I write help to publicize their fabric, patterns, or other business. But I can't tell you the number of times I've hung up the phone and come into the family room and said to my husband, "I just talked to the coolest person!" I can tell that some folks are pretty used to being interviewed and have stock responses to the oft-asked questions: Where do you get inspiration? (This only means that it's my job as a journalist to come up with some more thought-provoking questions.) But with other folks, we just hit it off and an actual conversation ensues. And with quilters that happens about 8 out of 10 times.

In November 2007 I got assigned to interview Mary Lou Weidman, a quilter and teacher from Washington State. What should have been one of those 15 to 20 minute interviews stretched into an hour or more. If you know Mary Lou's quilts at all, you know something about Mary Lou (those are her quilts on the right). She's funny, warm, and loves lots of color (three of my favorite qualities). But we also connected over the fact that nearly 30 years before her son had had leukemia (he's now in his 30s and a parent himself) and nearly 30 years before I had been a child life specialist, working with pediatric cancer patients. Mary Lou started quilting when her son was sick and her positive outlook is much of what got her through. I hung up the phone, totally energized and so happy to have gotten to chat with her.

About a week later I sent her the copy to check over and she wrote back and invited me to room with her at Quilt Market in Houston. I was flabbergasted! I'm basically a shy person and my first reaction was "I could never do that!" Mary Lou offered to show me around Market, to introduce me to her friends, and to go shopping and eat out at great restaurants. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, "I couldn't NOT do that!" We corresponded intermittently throughout the year and as October drew closer she mentioned a friend would also be joining us. Now I was really nervous—who was this friend, Mel? What if she snored more loudly than my husband? What if we didn't like each other at all? We'd be staying together for days...heck, we'd be sharing a bathroom!

To make a long story slightly shorter, I went, Mary Lou is wonderful and so is Mel (and she confessed she also wondered why Mary Lou had invited me and worried we wouldn't get along). And they introduced me to many fabulous people.
One of my favorites is their good buddy Brenda, who works for Marti Michell (you should see that Brenda demo a ruler-she's a whiz). It was about business, of course, (along with teaching and creating patterns, Mary Lou designs fabric for Benartex--check out Mary Lou's web site and blog). But there was this great, built-in bond. Mel (she's in brown, Brenda in green and the quilts are all Mary Lou's) worked for years in the garment industry, has written a textbook about fit, and had been to numerous trade shows, so walking the aisles with her gave me lots of insights into the textile business I would otherwise have missed. Mary Lou was generous with her time and contacts and just a lot of fun. Brenda was talented, funny, and friendly. I met lots of other wonderful folks, too, but these three really touched me. When they got together to sew in December in Texas, they even sent me a holiday box of goodies...but more on that when I write about tools.

At any rate, there are so many people I've connected with over fabric. My friend, Anne, whose offer to teach me to quilt one weekend literally changed my life (here we after a day of putting together quilt tops), my friends from work with whom I sewed Birdie Slings last weekend, my Scrabble friend Kristin with whom I've established a new bond through's corny, I know, but it goes on and on. And the woman I interviewed today talked about the wonderful women she's become friends with through sewing and it reminded me to thank the wonderful women I know for the things they've taught me, the fabric they've shared, and the pleasure we've had together over stitching.

(And I know, if I say wonderful one more time, we may all puke. But I've turned in three stories today and have used up my quota of adjectives.)