pens or pins? that is the question...

What's one to do when the heart and hands enjoy words and fabric, the pattern of paragraphs and quilts to an equal enthusiasm? To solve my dilemma I'm writing the print that stirs me and sharing the journey of blending fabrics into quilts and wearables, the discovery of old--be it quilts or friends, and the pleasures of today. Come...have a visit with me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Excuse me, DO YOU QUILT?

One word at a time makes story...

the writers workshop that changed my life
It seemed simple enough. I was taking a writer's workshop in the awesome desert town of Alpine. Joe Nick Patoski, my creative non-fiction teacher opened the class with "What is your passion?" Pas-sion? I heard. What does he mean?--kids, cooking, writing? One student after another started answering his question. I knew my turn was next.
"Ugh," I thought. "Well, I'll just say "quilting." He smiled, turned to the chalk board and wrote: 

Class dismissed. Go find your passion. Come back to class tomorrow with a 1500 word story of what you find.

Gulp-Gulp. I couldn't believe it. It was only 1 p.m. and hot as August can be. I was home-based on a solitary college campus and did not have a car. Town was two miles away. Well, I thought..."guess I better figure this out." After all, I had a tote, a camera, a plastic water bottle and comfortable shoes. I knew I could make the walk to town.

After a few minutes of web surfing, commonly called "procrastination" I took off on my adventure. Anxious to find quilters from the Sul Ross campus to the end of town, I was confident to find the latest quilt happenings. After all, women share, women stitch, no matter what the circumstances. And the internet had shown lots of quilt activity.

My first stop was the DeJaVu Store and Gallery-RECYCLED. Surely they would have a polyester double-knit quilted pillow or a used how-to quilt book. I wandered up and down the aisles--"not much here that works for me. Maybe I should ask?" I spotted an "authority figure", a woman about age 50 with glasses on her nose.
"Ma'am, I'm a writer taking a workshop at Sul Ross. I'm doing a story about the quilting interest in Alpine. I thought you might have some quilts or know some quilters."
"Dooney, Dooney," she called. "Do you know the name of that quilter's place? It's a little house just before the grocery store. I think it's called the Sunshine Store, the Sunshine Shop. What's it called? Oh, anyway, take a left at this corner walk down about two blocks. There might be some quilters in there."
"Thanks." Off I went, counting the blocks, one- two, I spotted a neat house with pretty petunias on the porch and a plaque by the front door "Surely the Lord shall live in this place." Confidence filled my chest. I knew this would be a safe place to ask again about "The Sunshine Shop." It must be close by. Knock, answer.
Well, how big can this town be? I kept walking. "Oh, there it is" attractive plastered house with potted plants around the porch and the sign, "The Sunshine Shop." I eagerly walked to the door. It was locked. I peered in and saw a red and white star quilt hanging on the wall. The sign read: Hours 10-2. "Shucks, well, at least I know where it is. ...maybe tomorrow."
"Mercy, it's hot," I reminded myself as I gulped the bottled water. Across the street I saw the town's Thriftway Grocery. The store looked nice and cool. "Surely there is a quilter there." I stalked the aisles. I looked at every face. "No, she's too young. She looks in a hurry." Maybe, around the cereal aisle...
"Oh, ma'am, ma'am," I approached the middle-aged lady wearing the blue Thiftway shirt. "Excuse me, but do you quilt?" Standing on a ladder and restocking beans, she stopped and looked down at me, blankly..
"Oh, hi, I'm Alice and I'm working on an article about quilters in the beautiful Big Bend area. Are you a quilter?"
"Well, no, but I do embroidery."
"You do, what kind?"

"Well, I draw my own pictures and sew them every night. It keeps me from getting stressed. Well, I don't do exact pictures. I just sew the shapes. I fill in the areas. I sort of make it up as I go. I used to have a store here and one time they were filming a movie nearby and one of the movie stars came and bought everything I had."

"Really, were you pleased?"
"Pleased, you betcha."

"Do you have any more embroidered pieces?"
"Oh yeah, I have lots. You want to see them? How long will you be here? I'll bring them tomorrow if you have time to come back." I quickly read her name tag, "Irma, I can't wait. I'll see you tomorrow."
I returned. We walked to her truck; she opened the door. There, a box full of her stress-relief embroideries. Wow! What colors, what imagery. I was in love.

Wonderful little children's faces, drawn in Charles Shultz'-Peanuts style--multiple tiny french knots created happy children in sets of two or three, sometimes sets of five or more. Intriguing little faces, curly hair, bright eyes...

"Oh, Irma, May I buy one?"
"Sure, Pick out the one you want.'Several minutes later, I had chosen my favorite.
"Will you sign it for me?"
" don't mind if I use my art name do you?" 

I watched her write  Pink Cookie ...boldly and proudly.
We shared smiles. We knew; we each had found a friend. 

To another great day,


a favorite scripture: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

a favorite book: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, 1996.
I'm always the last to read the best sellers so older books feel new to me. So,if like me, you haven't read this...go, fast to your bookstore or library and indulge! A great read.