I follow an on-line message board for contemporary quilters called quiltart (http://www.quiltart.com/ ). Today, one of the quilters posted that she has a brand new studio, but since there's no one there to play off of, she has accomplished nothing. She asked if others have that problem and what they did about it.
I thought about it a little bit and realized how fortunate I have been. I taught myself how to quilt (and not very good about it) when I was about 12 years old in the early 1970s. At the time, no one else in my town made quilts, at least not that I knew of. I was in a vacuum. My sources were Marguerite Ickis' "Standard book of Quilt Making" and McKim's "One-hundred-and-one Patchwork Patterns." My understanding was incomplete. Matched seams? What was that! There was no rotary cutter and templates were pieces of cardboard cut from cereal boxes.
After I had cancer the first time, my neighbor, Susan Varanka, invited me to take a class with her and meet other quilters. That was the beginning of a long friendship with lots of quilters from the Meriden/Wallingford area in Connecticut. Here, you can see a small group of the original quilters from that class at a dinner we had together one of the times I returned to Connecticut for a visit.
Susan lived right across the street and we'd often call each other over to solve a design problem of to throw out ideas. It was great fun, and our daughters, 6 years apart and both only children, loved to play with each other.
I joined the Wallingford Guild (the Heritage Quilters Chapter of the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild) , and once my daughter was in school in the morning, I began to quilt weekly with a "subgroup" which met Thursday mornings at the Wallingford Parks and Recreation center. It was a great thing to be able to quilt with the ladies whose interests and abilities were all over the world of quilting. If you had a question or an idea, or just wanted input or a critique, or just to stitch and...umm....crab about something, these ladies were there for you.
In fact, they sort of still are there for me. Here's a part of the Thursday morning group at lunch when we got together for my birthday last year (I had taken my daughter up for a visit with her friends over President's weekend).
I still email (sporadically) with all of my Connecticut Quilters, and I still miss them.
When I moved to Ohio in 2005, I joined THREE guilds. The local group, the Batty Binders, is here in Troy. Batty Binders is small as guilds go, only about 25 members. We meet once a month, and sometimes a second time as subgroup gets together in the evenings once a month for "Twilight Quilting" which again, is just a stitching group where you work on your own projects.
Here you can see the president (the one wearing a crown) showing off a quilt with the treasurer.
I also joined the Miami Valley Quilt Guild (http://www.miamivalleyquiltersguild.org/ ) which is much larger and has nationally known speakers/quilters give lectures and workshops. I fell into a group which meets and quilts...guess what! On Thursdays. We work on our own projects and bring pot-luck and we eat very well. :)
These two groups are very different, and have a lot of traditional quilters in them as well as ones who are more interested in contemporary quilts.
The third quilt group is the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network. When one of the new members said she had a block and needed some inspiration to get quilting again (she had recently moved to the area from Virginia) , I started a twice a month meeting to stitch with them. Appalachian Quilts in Enon kindly lent us some space. ( http://www.mv-artquilt.org/ )
Reading Shoshana's post querying about this made me realize just how lucky I am to have such great friends who happen to be great quilters (this is a detail of a hibiscus wall hanging that Sophie Pelletier from the Wallingford group did a couple of years ago).
Being able to talk to like minded people and solve problems is a great opportunity. Another great opportunity is the web. I think of people like my mom who lives basically in the middle of nowhere Montana. For people like her, the web can help with a "virtual guild." In fact, I belonged (and still pop in on occasion) to one of those as well. I had great fun participating in Quiltchat which is on the MIRC network, but is also available in Java. Being able to chat with others in almost real time even though they are across the world is absolutely wonderful.
I'm very grateful for all the quilters who have been in my life. So....for all of you who are in the pictures, or are in ANY of the groups, virtual or not, this hug is for you!