Saturday, June 27, 2009

Very Special People

There are many stereotypes associated with quilters: they tend to share better than most people, they think of others before themselves, they're honest, they like to wear denim, they make great potluck dishes and they're generally very fun!

Quilters come in all shapes, sizes and ages and I find that the people I call 'friends' who are quilters span a far greater age range than people I know in other parts of my life. I keep in touch with a handful of people from high school who are exactly my age, I belong to a couple of organizations where there are mostly just-ready-to-retire to fairly-newly-retired in age, like me. But since I teach quilting, I'm around people in their 30s to people in their 80s.

I learned many years ago that if you expand your circle of friends to include people 20 years younger as well as 20 (or 30!) years older than yourself, your life will be much more interesting and educational. I teach a Block of the Month class at Beehive Quilts in Woodland and have become good friends with a woman who's 30-something and one woman pushing 70. They are both delightful, creative, smart and fun to be around. I find they think about things just a little differently than I do and are attracted to colors and patterns I've not noticed and it often opens my eyes.

The younger one talks about the crafts fairs where she vends her handmade bags and purses, fairly brimming with enthusiasm and energy. She's into these new retro fabrics that really didn't do anything for me until I saw some of her wonderful projects. The older woman's calmer pace and careful thought process suggest she has experienced a lot of this before and wants to be sure each project is exactly right and not slap-dashed just to say it's finished. When she lingers over her choices for a particular project, I want to say, "just pick a fabric!" Yet, after careful scrutiny (and maybe a stop at one or two other quilt shops) she finds exactly what she's looking for and executes such a work of art, I have to agree that slowing down and being patient IS the way to complete fulfillment.

I may teach quilting but I will always be a student of the craft. Quite often, I'm absolutely certain, I learn more from the people IN my class than they learn from me.