A Pleasant Few Days Among Friends and Quilts
I attended two quilt/needlework events this past week. One, the Merrimack Valley Quilt Guild’s annual Quilt Show was at a middle/high school in a nearby New Hampshire town. So many beautiful quilts were hung on portable racks that stood at least eight feet tall and still some reached the floor in length. Some of those quilts were entered in a contest for ribbons. Some were hand-sewn and hand-quilted entirely, and others were hand-appliqued and machine quilted. All showed a dedication to the art of quilting, and to the creativity of the quilters. I envied their skills. I admired their work.
The second was the 40th Anniversary Tea and Show of the Essex County Needlecraft Guild. This was held at the Hellenic Center of nearby Ipswich, Massachusetts, and featured quilts and much more. Japanese Bunka Embroidery by my high school friend, knitted doll clothing for the 18 inch dolls that reminded me of the knitting that I did years ago for those very dolls … sweaters, hats, mittens … crewel work, fabric purses, felted figurines ~ all were treats to the eyes. All were proof, again, that women today have not lost the appreciation of hand-made beauty.
I didn’t offer any of my work to the first of these two shows. It came up quickly, and I didn’t feel ready. But I did bring four of my holiday lap quilts to the second, along with one of my tea cozies. And I sat at a table and demonstrated how to make the cozy to some interested members of the guild. I was in delightful company … women my age, some decades younger, and some decades older ~ clearly at least three generations of women who enjoyed sharing the arts of knitting, sewing, crocheting, felting, puppetry, doll fashions, embroidery, crewel and so much more.
It was humbling to see my work among theirs, and it was gratifying to see these women showing interest in what I could do, and what I would share with them. I confess I was saddened to realize how much I have forfeited in my skills, due to the tremor that I always brush off as a minor inconvenience. In truth, I had forgotten how many things I no longer do. I, too, have knit patterned stockings, and doll and people sweaters, hats, mittens, and even skirts. I used to embroider neatly, and did a crewel pillow featuring a basket of summer blossoms years ago. I used to paint miniatures … small wooden tiles of florals and landscapes with magnets on the back for refrigerators, or with eye-hooks on the top for necklaces. I used to make macrame plant hangers, and knit cabled sweaters with so many different stitches, and fair isle sweaters with so many colors. Once, I knit Rob a sweater with snowmen on the front, and a pile of snow and shovel on the back, of my own design. I made knit Christmas stockings with names and reindeer on them, and once was able to take a thirty year old stocking from a teacher and make a duplicate of it for her infant son.
At the end of the show today, one of the crafters, a puppet-maker who also designed seasonal hats, asked me if I would teach a workshop on making the tea cozy that I’d displayed. I was happy to say yes, I would. She asked if I taught classes in our own workshop at home, and I said I would, if people would come. She said she felt they would come, and she would try to make that happen. What a wonderful thing that would be, to have people coming to our shop to learn, and to see all that Rick and I have to show them.
The business of this week has tired me. I told Rick yesterday that my eyes were starting to wander and lose focus. As I moved across the large room filled with beautiful creations and many people, I felt ‘unable to see’ specifically any one thing … everything seemed to blur together, as they would if i were wearing someone else’s eyeglasses. I had a brief sense of vertigo as well, and seemed unable to walk in the direction I wanted to go. It was just after six o’clock, and time for us to take down my friend’s award winning applique quilt, and gather up my own smaller quilts and tea pot with cozy, and head home. We stopped for a quick supper, then brought her quilt to her, and then came home.
I have a regular appointment with the ophthalmologist in a week or two, and will let him know of the blurred vision today, and of the ‘floaters’ that are multiplying in my stronger eye. A few times today I tried to brush what I thought were fruit flies away from my face, and probably looked silly doing so, when there was nothing actually there.
The good news this week is that the genetic test I’d had done a month ago yielded a result of ‘no mutation noted.’ So I am not carrying the specific gene mutation that my nieces have … and that is good news for my children and grandchildren. I was asked to let my family know that, but to pass along the caution that, given the cancer histories of the previous and current generation, they need to be aware of the existing risk and make healthy lifestyle choices. She also validated the choices I’ve made over the past seven years since my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis: the meat-free, low to no fat, nothing fried and little dairy menu, with more exercise and less stress. ‘Less stress’ was not something I could willfully arrange, but is something that life has generously brought my way.
I will come back here some day soon and post pictures of some of my past creations, to share with you what I’ve lost to a simple tremor. But with those photos of the past, I’ll continue to post the quilts yet ahead for my machine, and for the eventual recipients of what I can make and give. For the saying goes, to those whom much is given, much is expected. The skills of needlework begins as a gift, and I am happy that I am still able to use that gift to give happiness and warmth to others.