The life of a professional longarm quilter can be fairly solitary. Most of us work from our homes, by ourselves, and we don’t get out much. For those of us who live alone, the on-line quilting groups are where we build relationships. Sometimes we think, ‘wow, that person is really cool.’ Sometimes we think, ‘whoa, that person is really weird!’ We never really know, do we? As most of us discover, it can be difficult to read hidden meaning in a person’s words on the internet and, depending on our own mood for the day, we can easily misunderstand what we read. Anyway, I bought my longarm machine in 2004. I went to Innovations (a small longarm show that used to be held in Tacoma) that fall, and it was okay, but I took too many classes, all of which were lecture, and I didn’t end up learning that much. The following spring, I flew east and attended MQX, the Machine Quilters Exposition, which was, until 2010, held in Manchester, NH. I went by myself. I had the roommate coordinator find me someone to share a room with, as I didn’t really know anyone well enough to make plans, but from the moment I arrived, I felt welcomed and comfortable. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t one of the real popular kids in school. I was chubby, shy (can you believe that?), a little nerdy, and my folks died when I was twelve, which sort of turned me into an alien as far as the rest of the kids were concerned. I think because they didn’t know what to say to me, they just avoided me. Anyway, when you go to a quilting conference, you’re among people who, for the most part, think like you do. They appreciate art. They pet fabric. They get excited by thread. They’re interested in learning the newest tips and tricks of the trade, finding out how to use the newest tools. They’re interested in the quilts they’ve seen you make, not the brand of shoes you wear or whether you hang with the jocks or the hoods. For me, MQX has always been about going to a giant reunion with the best friends I’ve never met in person before. Well, most of them, anyway. There are friends I see year after year, and those women have become good friends, with whom I chat weekly and email regularly. We share pictures of quilts, family, friends, pets, etc. Each year, we meet more people, and we make more good friends. Oh – and some of those people we thought we weird? They end up being so nice. And the ones we thought were so cool? Well, they are, but they’re just like the rest of us too.
Today, quilting brought another nice person into my circle. A woman from a town in southern Oregon was in Eugene visiting her son, and was interested in having some quilts made from tshirts. Not the typical tshirt quilts, but something different . . a bit more asymmetrical and artful. She had seen something she liked on my website, so we got together to talk about the possibilities. I figured we’d spend about a half hour having coffee. It ended up being almost two hours, but you know, it really didn’t seem like it. She was a very nice and interesting person, and I feel as though I’ve made another friend through quilting. She’s not a quilter, but maybe we can turn her to the dark side . . . who knows?
So it’s off to MQX. Got the dog sitter lined up. The cat sitter lined up, and I think my niece will stay here so she can have a nice quiet place to get her school work done while keeping my house safe and sound. I know when I was in college, a house to myself to study in would have been heaven. To my longarming buddies who will be in Providence, I cannot wait to see you all!