My quilting career began almost 40 years ago in an Amish home in northern Indiana. I thought the women gathered around the quilting frame in the living room were sewing on a trampoline. I was clueless. They asked me if I wanted to quilt too. Of course I said yes. I wanted them to like me. I figured if they liked me they would invite me to come live with them and then I could learn about Amish culture by participating in it. And then I could write a really long paper with lots of footnotes and graduate from college.
They asked if I wanted a thimble. I declined. They giggled. I bled. Not only did I jab my finger on the underside of the quilt with the point of the needle, but I rammed the eye of the needle into the top finger too—the one that should have been wearing the thimble.
I made huge ugly stitches but I didn’t give up. They assumed I could sew. I didn’t tell them that my sewing was limited to the apron I butchered in Home Eck, and the Superman outfit (complete with cape and tail cozy) that I had sewed for our cat. Years later, my Amish friend told me they ripped out all my stitches after I left. I don’t know what they did about the blood.
As luck would have it, my Amish friend invited me home for dinner after the quilting. She probably thought if I was as good a cook as I was a quilter I would starve to death without intervention. That day changed my life. There’s just no other way to put it. I began visiting the family, staying a few days at a time, and have been blessed with a friendship that not only enriched my life, but nurtured a passion for quilting. I did get better at quilting. It would have been hard to get any worse. I never got very good at milking or driving the buggy. In fact, when my friend Ida let me take over the buggy reins (above), the horse knew a total amateur was at the helm. Joe (the horse) turned around, looked me in the eye, and then marched off the side of the road!
I’ll be going back to Amishland again at the end of June. This time I’ll be teaching for the Shipshewana Quilt Festival. I hope you can come. I’ll be giving two lectures, a workshop, several Schoolhouse lessons, in-store demonstrations, and I’ll be part of a panel discussion too. Come! You will feel right at home. See the quilt show, visit the vendor mall, check out the local quilt shops, and events. Don’t forget to come by and say “Hi.”
For more information and registration information, click here.
Don’t forget to bring your thimble,