Friday, August 14, 2009

Confession: My Secret Affair

Since we started this blog, I've posted pretty steadily on M, W, F. But I missed Wednesday and I have a confession to make. The reason I missed is that I was indulging in my secret affair. Yes, that's right, I was cheating on my knitting. Technically, I did have my knitting with me. But my focus was on quilting. Because, you see, I have a secret double life, one that started in 2002, a couple of years after I started going steady with knitting.

It started out as a brief article I wrote for the Dallas Morning News about the popularity of quilting. I only wrote the piece to make money to feed my kid. I really knew nothing of the world of sewing, which I left behind me after a brief, disastrous attempt at making a wraparound skirt in eighth grade home ec. But somehow-- I can't even say exactly how-- I went on to write a book, Quilty as Charged: Undercover in the Material World, detailing the alternate universe of quilting, including tales of my own attempts to learn the craft. Somehow, that book led to a second quilting book, which comes out in October. And that book led to a third, which I am currently writing, that will be published next year.

I'm still a lousy quilter, and I don't do it often, but I do have fun with it when I get out the sewing machine. Because I know my limits, I never worry about making some perfect, traditional pattern. I just sort of throw stuff together. As you can see, from the photo at the top, I also like to incorporate unconventional embellishment. That's a section of a quilt I made for my son, whom I call Wolfie, as a graduation gift.

My growing quilt knowledge has afforded me an opportunity to go out and talk to quilt guilds. So this week, I spent M, T, and W talking to guilds in Lubbock and Midland. And while the knitting and quilting are clearly two different beasts, there is a lot of overlap. Like us knitters, the quilters confess to having stashes so big they'll never get through them in a lifetime, even if they live to be a hundred and twenty. Also as with knitting, this does not keep them from continuing to build their stash.

Of course there's also the tactile/textile common denominator. Quilters and knitters both share the knowledge that working with colors and textures and stitches to create something beautiful and useful is about the most fun you can have. And then there is the overall passion factor. As we hardcore knitters are nuts about knitting, and seize all opportunities to finish "just one more row," the quilters like to log "just one more hour" at their machines (or even handstitching) before calling it a night.

I always get a huge kick out of meeting these groups. But then, I come home, and I get out my knitting, and fall back into the arms of my first craft love. I admit I still get a wandering eye at times. Last Sunday, for instance, I stopped by KnitBuzz to say hello, and a group of weavers was in the other room, making these incredible scarves. And I made a mental note to one day flirt with weaving, just as I've made a secret vow to try out spinning (which, though officially it falls under the knitting umbrella can, I hear, get so addictive that one could stop knitting altogether and just spin spin spin.)

Anybody else have secret other passions out there? Little weekend getaways with embroidery or cross-stitching? Maybe a dress form you keep hidden away, sneaking it out every once in awhile to create a garment? Come, on, 'fess up...

Below are a few images of quilts I've taken-- as you can see from the details, I did not make them.

The quilt below is a miniature I saw at a show in Dallas. The pattern is called Mariner's Compass. It's REALLY tricky.

The next one is an antique quilt I saw at the Denver Museum of Art (yes, I have my affair in public sometimes):

This last one is another miniature, made by a woman named Ellie, whom I met on my Lubbock visit. I just love that bunny.

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