I am so proud of Carole for completing her first quilt! Carole’s sister Ruth Ann is a dear friend and wonderful quilter. Carole has always admired Ruth Ann’s quilts, and has been the recipient of several. At a dinner party in July, Carole asked me if I would teach her to quilt. You might wonder why she would offer to pay me for lessons when her sister would be happy to help her for free. If you do, you probably do not have sisters. Ask my sisters how well my attempts at helping them with their chemistry homework turned out.
Although Ruth Ann appears to have been born with a needle and thread in her hand, Carole had never as much as threaded a needle or used a sewing machine or an iron. At our first lesson, which involved learning to use a rotary cutter, she confessed that she had forgotten her glasses and really couldn’t see very well without them. Later she explained that she is color blind, so the yellow lines on the ruler and the green mat were not working for her.
She loved her first lesson, but it took her a month before she came back a second time. Somehow doubt crept in and she wasn’t sure this was something she could learn. Eventually she selected six fat quarters and we began cutting and piecing her Yellow Brick Road quilt. I made my own quilt from the same pattern so that I could demonstrate what to do at each step.
It takes a bit of practice to start from the beginning, and some lessons were as simple as learning to thread a sewing machine, wind a bobbin, and sew a quarter inch seam. We may have set a record for the longest time to complete a Yellow Brick Road, but Carole now knows how to piece a quilt, free motion machine quilt, and sew on a binding, including finishing by hand. And put on a label. Don’t worry, Ruth Ann, we didn’t forget the label.
I have long held the belief that quilters are happy people because they choose colors they love for their quilts and then spend hours staring at those colors in pleasing geometric patterns. I believe that research will someday show that this releases endorphins that make us happy. Carole shared with me that she loves quilting because she is so focused on what she is doing that she can block out all her worries. I was touched when she told me that as she drives to my house and turns onto my street the clouds seem to part and her heart lightens. It may be her first quilt, but it will not be her last.