Last week Jon and I were in a gallery in Vermont and the owner told us about Frances Holliday Alford a well known quilter whose studio was nearby. He said ” Just knock and walk into her studio she loves to meet new people.” We found the studio and and when no one answered our knock Jon stuck his head in the door and yelled,”hello”. A friendly voice answered telling us to come in and look around. Frances was upstairs in her studio. Downstairs there was an impressive collection of art quilts. Frances gave us a tour, naming quilters I had never heard of.
Upstairs in the studio two women were working with Frances on a collaborative quilt for a competition. They were all so friendly, telling me about the work they were doing, asking me about my work and looking at my website. They even invited me to join their Tuesday workshops.
I listened to them talk about the hand dyed fabrics and quilting techniques. How different competitions required the quilting stitches to be so many inches apart and the batting a certain thickness. They mentioned how a collaborative quilt should look like it was made by one person.
As I listened I came to realize that not only was this a world I had never entered, but in it, I wasn’t even technically a quilter. I tack my quilts, I don’t stitch them. We exchanged emails and I left thinking that maybe I’d join one of their Tuesday workshops.
As we made our way back to the car, I started to doubt myself and my work. Perhaps I should be making quilts the way they were. Maybe I should be dying my own fabrics (like they teach in many of the quilting books and magazines) or learning the latest techniques. I had never entered a contest. That old feeling of being left out, of not belonging started to creep in. That’s when I knew my mind was going to a dark place. Frances and her friends did everything possible to make me feel welcome in their group, including inviting me to join them. So this feeling was not coming from them, but from somewhere inside of me.
I acknowledged the old feeling for what it was, felt it, then let it go.
Our work is so different. We have different intentions, materials, priorities, and techniques. I’m not anymore interesting in making their type of quilt than they are making my type of quilt. I’m sure I could learn something working with them, but I could learn something in a drawing class too. I think if I have a goal or intention it’s important to do things which support it. To choose those things carefully and not spread yourself to thin.
So I won’t be joining the workshop, I have quilts and potholders to make and Pig Barn Gallery shows to plan and animals to tend to and a loving relationship to enjoy and grow in. That’s enough for right now.