It all started with the potholders. I got a potholder kit for Christmas when I was a kid. It came with a metal loom, a hooking tool, and an enormous bag of multi-colored nylon loops. I got “hooked” on the activity immediately – I made one potholder after another. I made solid ones, striped ones, and branched out into intricate designs in a short time.
I discovered I have a personality trait that craves this type of activity. I graduated to embroidery, knitting and crochet. I sat quietly for hours focused on nothing but the repetitive task. Everybody got a Granny Square blanket for Christmas one year. If you don’t know what that is, you have been living under a rock or you are very young. In the 1970s I had to switch to needlepoint when I exhausted my list of blanket recipients.
Needlepoint, while equally addictive, is a slower process – well, at least for me it is. I did it in between meal services when I worked as a stewardess for Trans International Airlines or in between skydives at the Pope Valley Parachute Ranch.
Years later, as needlepoint went out of fashion and shops were closing their doors, I came upon a “going-out-of-business” sale in Ft. Lauderdale. I saw an exquisite piece in the window marked 75% off. I can’t resist a bargain, so I purchased the beach scene, complete with flamingo, to make for my mom’s tropical paradise home in Costa Rica. It was a large wall-hanging that took me five years to complete. I swore off needlepoint after that one…only to be lured in again by a special request from a special person. But that’s another story for a future date.
Meanwhile, my dear friend and neighbor in Costa Rica, Judy, casually mentioned she was writing a book on quilting and experimenting with textile design.She failed to mention that she was an accomplished author of three, not one, but three best-selling quilting books! Not only is she a retired New York Attorney with a special interest in environmental issues, but she has served on numerous boards and committees, and represented the United States on lecture tours to Europe for the U.S. State Department in addressing land conservation. The list of accomplishments is staggering, including associations with big names such as Harvard and Columbia Universities.
Judy grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, learning early on, the joy of creating through the 4H program. Her rural roots serve her well in her home in Costa Rica, where she is surrounded by nature and beauty which provide inspiration for her exquisite projects while being serenaded by a plethora of birds, on which she is also an expert. Having seen many of these beautiful birds, my favorite being the Motmot, I can see inspiration in their feathers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Judy is hatching a bird-inspired quilt at this very moment.
As I perused her newest book with the exciting new coloring techniques to fit in with modern-day trends, I remembered her telling me a story about her and Carol Ann Waugh, her college friend, with whom she wrote the books. It was their first manuscript, which is the hardest. (I know all too well, first hand!) The only copy of her manuscript got left in a taxi in New York. Miracle of miracles, after a series of twists and turns, the manuscript was recovered, and it went to press in the 1980s. Their books were so popular, they required several printings to keep up with demand.
Now, with their modernized version, including actual pages to color on, I can’t decide which one to choose. I’m trying to NOT be influenced by the pattern names, but with monikers like “Cat’s Whiskers,” “Harlequin” and “Holy Grail,” how could I not be?
I’m especially tickled pink to know that when I liquidated my home in Costa Rica, Judy bought my large pots. I knew Judy’s kitchen was well stocked so I questioned her purchase.
“Oh, so now that I’m leaving, you’re looking to cook in larger quantities. You planning a lotta parties or what?”
Judy shook her head, “You know it wouldn’t be any kind of party without you! Nope, I need them to dye fabric in. They are the perfect size!”
I was so preoccupied with my move, I didn’t question it further. Months later, when I received a package in California, the most beautiful hot pink patchwork pillows greeted me. They are stunning, artistic, and unique. Best of all, they were made by my friend, Judy, who dyed the fabric in my pots, and sewed them with her own hands. I will treasure these for the rest of my life.
If you are a beginner, like I am, buy this book to get started. Judy and Carol have made it easy for us. Each book contains twenty-five unique designs with four fully colored examples of how differently the design can look with your individual touches. You can create your own combinations on the paper in the book. The top quality of the paper allows you to color directly on it without bleeding through. Even better, you can make copies of any grid design to practice and experiment. All designs are based on a twelve block pattern, so they can actually be quilted! It’s fun and people will cherish the quilt forever knowing you made it with your own hands – and a little help from the book!
You can purchase it at: www.CarolAnnWaugh.com/store
I’m happy to see some of the old-fashioned things coming back…like patchworking, pearls and Pond’s. When people ask me what my secret is for my youthful appearance, they always smile when I tell them – “It’s Pond’s skin cream! You think I look young? You should see my mother! She taught me about Pond’s, granny squares, and lotsa other things.”
So put on your pearls, rub some Pond’s on your face, and buy the book, “Contemporary Patchworking” by Carol Ann Waugh and Judith M. LaBelle – you’ll be fashionable, have a youthful complexion, and have fun making your own personally designed quilt!