A couple of years ago Sally Brechbill emailed and said she and a couple of friends were planning a vacation to Cambridge NY and wanted to know if I would be able to have tea with them. Sally had bought some of my work, but I didn’t know her and honestly, I thought it kinda strange, so I told her I couldn’t meet her. A few months later Sally and her friends came from Ohio and met with Mary Muncil. Mary called me after having tea with them and told me how nice they were, still I refused to see them. Then, as Jon was coming out of Battenkill Books in Cambridge, he bumped into Mary, Sally and her friends. They talked a bit and Jon invited them to Bedlam Farm. (there’s a video of their visit in Jon’s ebook The Story of Rose).
When Jon called and told me they were coming to the farm, I couldn’t help feeling like a curmudgeon for refusing to see them again and again. I was also embarrassed, here I was telling them I wasn’t available and now they were coming to the farm. Turns out, none of that mattered. They came to the farm and as Mary said, they were really nice and we had a lovely visit. Since then Sally and I have kept in touch. She still buys my work and somethings if she finds a neat piece of fabric she thinks I might like sends it to me. I always try to do a trade with her. Cool fabric for a potholder.
Last week Sally surprised me with her story about her trip to Japan. About 20 years ago she went with a few other quilters met up with some quilters in Japan. The American quilters brought some of their quilt squares and traded fabric and techniques with the Japanese quilters. Sally came back with lots of fabric, used some of it and put the rest in a drawer. When, last week, she asked if I would like to have the Japanese fabric I jumped at it. I had no idea what shibori was or what it looked like until I got it in the mail. ( It’s actually a dying technique, much like tye dying except they tie grains of rice in the fabric to create the designs. Sally said she saw people permanently stooped at a 90 degree angle from working in the rice fields.) I was thrilled, inspired, I knew it needed to be a quilt.
The quilt came together quickly, somehow I knew just what I wanted to do. I used all the fabric Sally sent (just a few scraps left over) and added some pieces from Laura Israel’s box of fabric. ( the large blue and white piece on the top left and the thin strip sandwiched between the greys on the bottom right) The greys come from 2 different pairs of linen pants I got at a thrift store. Here’s where it comes full circle, the black and yellow pieces with the plants and (I’m not sure if these are Chinese or Japanese Characters) Asian writing was given to me by Mary Muncil.
From Japan to Ohio to Cambridge NY, through friendships and trust and trades and rice and tea this quilt came together. And now it seems it’s final stop (for a while anyway) will be with Tess, the woman who bought my first quilt 5 years ago. She plans on hanging it in her new acupuncture office.