Friday, February 4, 2011

For Sarah

I first started quilting in the Yukon in about 1989. 
Tuesday night was quilting at Colleen's with a group of about 12 women who were crazy for quilting. The first time I went I was drawn in immediately, hit with sensory overload.

Women talking everywhere: at the table while poring over fabric swatches, in the kitchen, learning how to use freezer paper, on the sofa, sharing snippets from the latest quilting magazines, and finally, on the living room floor, discussing the merits of more or less borders for a quilt top spread out on the floor.

The quilt top in question was made by Sarah and the pattern was Hidden Wells. She had discovered it while in Victoria having cancer treatments, at the little quilt shop not far from the hotel where she stayed for several weeks at a time.
I can't recall Sarah ever making anything but Hidden Wells - she was so entranced with the pattern, always trying out different ratios and values of the bright jewel toned fabrics she loved.

I made this runner for a demo at the quilt shop last week; Hidden Wells is an intriguing pattern and until you make a few, it's hard to know where exactly the various fabrics will be in the end result.
But in reality I made it because I was missing Sarah and our group, I miss the market spice tea we always drank when quilting was at Colleen's, the paper napkins that never matched (she saved the matching ones for the Wednesday night group because they were pickier than us girls!), the pungent smell of cigar smoke wafting up from downstairs where her husband was watching television, the endless discussions about fabrics, colour, techniques, how you always got at least 10 opinions, even if there were only 7 people present...

I miss the enthusiasm we all had for this wonderfully creative and useful craft

and I missed playing in colour

so I rounded up all sorts of bright jewel tones and made something pretty

Sarah would be pleased...

but she would also be saying the same thing she always said to me when I made something from a pattern, an admonishment I suppose, in her gentle English accent,

"Well of course it's lovely and all, but really you know, you're so very clever, you should be making up your own designs - you should be doing your own thing."


Marj Talbot said...

That is a wonderfull story and a beautifull memory. Ever think of writing a book?
I too played with Hidden Wells following your demo last week. It is truly an exciting experience. Mine is so close to yours - I love your border fabric. I will definitely make more of these. I seem to have a drawer that's not quite full.
Thanks a bunch again for sharing both your projects and your stories.

Michelle May said...

I do believe Sarah is a most intelligent lady and you should take her advice. Let it flow out of you girlfriend.
On another note...we both started quilting in 1989 and I too shared this same experience with a group. We are truly kindred sisters. So cool!
xx, shell

Createology said...

This is a lovely post with lots of memories and happy times enjoying wonderful company and creative enjoyments. How special that you were able to share Sarah and her wisdom. Happy February Hearts...

Anonymous said...

Jillayne, how lovely to remember those times. And look where you are now and what you're doing with all you learned since 1989. I think Sarah was right - and you ARE doing your own thing - teaching and blogging and sharing your projects.
Hugs, Diane

Shirley said...

Jillayne, A wonderful story about Sarah. In a way that is what I like about country life because you would get together and do the very thing. Discuss how you wanted it to look and etc. There is a group here, but I don't know if you have to belong to the group in order to be part of their sewing circle. I wouldn't be able to do it with my still working. Some day maybe I will get to do some of the things that I would like do. It is on temporary hold as I call it. I will just take my small projects with me. Take care. Your Missouri Friend.

Anonymous said...

The runner turned out beautifully and what special memories you shared. That sense of community is so lacking today, I suppose that's one of the reasons I love blogging.

dianehobbit said...

Colleen's group sounds wonderful. I had my first attempt at patchwork about the same time as you started but only managed two blocks of hand piecing. I didn't know of any groups to join until 5 years ago. They are a lovely bunch of girls and we have all inspired each other, but your meetings sound like a real family affair and much more intimate, I could picture you all there. A lovely piece of work to remind you of Sarah, and it is okay to just follow a pattern from time to time. At least you are being creative.

Anonymous said...

Your table runner turned out beautiful, Jillayne! It really shows what a talented seamstress you are, because it looks like such a difficult pattern! I'd have to agree with your friend, but without the English accent, of course... beautiful!!
Have a great weekend!
Jo :)

Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

What a wonderful remembrance of Sarah and what a beautiful runner Jillyanne, I am sure that Sarah would be so pleased that you honoured her memory in this way. You are such an amazing artist, writer, poet, philosopher; I am in awe of your talent every time I visit your blog. Reading your remembrances of your quilting group I feel as if I am there; the sites, the sounds, even the smells. There really is nothing in the world that can replace the intimacy of a group of like minded women working together on something they all love, there is a kind of genetic, innate connection that exists that can't be explained and perhaps doesn't need to be. It just is and it is beautiful. Thank you for awakening that remembrance in me as well Jillayne, Deb

dianehobbit said...

I can see how this pattern can become addictive! Thank you for the inspiration. When I have a time to play with the pattern more I am going to make a table runner for the summer.

Dorthe said...

Dear Jillayne,
What a wonderfull memmory, from long ago- do you connect with some of those women ,still? I guess it is difficult, when mooving away-to keep in touch!
You are a fantastic writer, you know that?-- you can catch and touch-and make me be there-- thankyou- dear-
The art work, is so beautifull, and the colors you used gorgeus.
Happy afternoon and evening, with hugs.

Sharne's Bit 'n' Bobs said...

I haven't heard of this pattern, but it looks good. I will have to put it on my 'to do list'.

The French Bear said...

Love the quilting get togethers, or any kind of get together where women is inspiring and fun to have others who love to do the same or maybe it's just the happiness that overcomes us when we are in a group......I know when I took doll classes I felt like that. There were some women who touched my heart and I always remember what they said or made because I felt an emotional attachment to them....not sure why, some people do that don't they? I do miss that, of course with this cold weather and no travelling it seems to be emphasized mored....
I love your tablecloth you created....very pretty and what quick thinking!!!
It is so nice that you had a collection of wonderful lace and linen to do it....I think I may have a stash somewhere....what a great idea, a huge crazy quilt....I have noticed a lot of blogs that are involved in crazy quilting.....hmm....another thing to add to the bucket list!!!!
Sounds like you had a terrific weekend, what did you have for dinner?!!!!
Love having friends over...a chance to unwind and relax!