I love quilting. It is a constant source of creativity, challenge, comfort, escape, deep emotion, whimsy, beauty...not to mention a reward/justification for paying attention in math and geometry class. It seems like such a pure, private, intimate sort of craft because it does touch on so many personal emotions and we do spend many hours in solitude with our 100% cotton.
Because we feel our craft so personally, we often have an unexplainable, instant connection with other quilters when we meet them for the first time. It is almost as if we can't fathom the possibility that two people could feel like this about a craft.
I'm sure it's happened to you...you are out of your quilt cave...out in the REAL world, and you bump into a stranger, somewhere totally unexpected that mumbles a word of "quilt speech" that you recognize. You look at each other, smile, and feel like you've known them forever. You start talking about projects, patterns, and the person you are making the current quilt for as if you have a history, a bond, a real connection.
There is something so pure, so innocent, so COOL when this happens.
Finding out that someone else feels the same emotions about this craft opens up a WHOLE other world of quilting to us. Let's be honest...there are times we turn to our cotton when we are sad, worried, confused, hopeless, lonely...we frankly feel like no one else would understand. We feel soothed and hugged. The colors, patterns, and the tactile feel of the fabric makes everything all better...almost. When we make a connection with another quilter, we find a kindred spirit to share our projects and our lives with.
All of a sudden we have people we can't WAIT to show a pattern to, we pick up a fat quarter of something we KNOW they would LOVE, we get together to sew or go to a new quilt shop.
Do guys have this kind of thing happen when they go to the auto parts store? The power tool department at Sears? The big screen TV section at Best Buy? The beer isle at the grocery store?
I think this is a singular event in the human experience. Substitute "scrapbooking" or "knitting" or "beading" for "quilting" (or even "women who have miscarried" or "holocaust survivors" or "breast cancer survivors") and the same thing happens. We make connections with other people who share deep loves or hurts.
I think the depth of these connections make incidents of hurt feelings and misunderstandings among us so painful and hard to heal. Maybe we wonder why people who deeply love the things we do could ever hurt or wound us, or make us feel used and unappreciated.
It is also human nature to look at things from only one perspective...the one side of things we actually see. I have found this to be true through my part time employment at both a church and a quilt shop. As a member of a church, I saw the clergy and other staff members in a certain light, as perfect vessels of outreach, facilitation, and faith. When I joined the church staff, I realized they were flawed, conflicted, complicated people just like me...trying to do their jobs and answer a calling while struggling and dealing with the same difficult, painful baggage.
The same can be true of a quilt shop. As quilters, we drive up to a shop, the gray skies part, a rainbow appears, birds and angels start singing...in we trot to find comfort, escape, inspiration, and a connection with other quilters. Little do we consider the human burdens that are carried by the owners, employees and other shoppers.
Point of reference and perspective are hard little nuggets to grasp sometimes, but they are worth the effort of pursuit.