When I began my quilting journey, I was a “dyed-in-the-wool” traditionalist. I grew up in an era where my mother and aunts traded the paper wrappings from Mountain Mist batting, of which I still have many. Inside each was a pattern for a different quilt! My first quilting lessons were learning how to make traditional blocks, and I loved them.
After a week-long class at QSDS with the incredible David Walker, things changed. David taught me how to sit quietly in my studio, looking intently at my work and letting it speak to me. My work began to come from my heart. It was OK to let the work stay on the design wall for days or weeks until I intuitively knew what it needed. My quilts began to tell a story, to become intensely personal. My quilts became my voice.
I was reminded of my early days a couple of weeks ago when a customer in my booth (40th Anniversary Charlotte Quilt Show) said she was in search of Civil War reproductions. Initially, I thought she meant military, as I once vended near a fellow who specialized in only military items. But when she began leafing through my fabrics, it hit me. Of course she was looking for Civil War reproduction fabrics! Is it no longer available?
When it was all the rage I bought fat-quarters of a dozen or so designs. I made one star block and then sent the remainder to my baby sister in California. She had a project underway and needed a bigger fabric selection.
I knew I would not be using the fabrics, as my “style” had evolved to abstract and intuitive. I still dearly love traditional patterns, and have a small treasured collection of pieces created by relatives. But this Civil War fabric star is probably the last thing I’ll create from a traditional pattern. Strange that I haven’t been able to part with it. Maybe I love tradition more than I realized.
I will have several patterns for my quilt designs at the upcoming Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Show this weekend. Tartan Town, below, is currently my most popular. Copyright Ellen Guerrant.
The house image is one of my favorites, and I’ve made several quilts using this motif. Below, is Happy Houses. This pattern will also be available at the show. Copyright Ellen Guerrant.
Make plans to attend the 40th anniversary, “Down Memory Lane” quilt show of the Charlotte Quilters’ Guild March 10 and 11, 9-4. Union County Agricultural and Cultural Center, 3230 Presson Drive, Monroe NC 28112. Show sponsors: Creative Sew and Vacuum; Elaine’s Attic; Featherweight Poppy; Martelli Enterprises; Sew Much Fun! and The Long Arm Network. I’ll be vending (Occasional Threads – look for my balloon!) along with Bear Hug Quiltworks; Deb Karasik; Dragonfly Quilt Shop; Loving Stitches; Pineapple Fabrics; Quilt Patch Fabrics; Shakerwood Woolens; Susan Edmonson Designs; The Quilter’s Gallery; Threads Run Through It; Threadsketched; Wood Quilt Blocks and Working Hands. Hope to see you there!
My booth will feature vintage quilt tops, table cloths, feed sacks and linens, my quilt patterns, hand-dyed fabrics, vintage buttons, hand-made items, vintage aprons, some class samples and hopefully kits (if they get back from the printer in time). Please stop by to see me and the other great vendors, as well as over 180 amazing quilts. There is a judged show as well as several “best of” quilts from years past. Look for my balloon!
The farmhouse in which I grew up was built in the 19th century. In it were things not of monetary value, but precious to us nonetheless. Family things with history. The somewhat crudely wrought table, made by a man who lived at the “county home” where my great-grandfather was superintendent, as a wedding gift to my parents; my Mother’s beautiful sewing cabinet with the little stenciled drawers that swing out like arms, a gift from my Father in the early years of their marriage; the round oak pedestal table my parents bought when they set up housekeeping, and the beautiful rocking chair belonging to great-grandma Louisa Merkel von Ohlen. “It came from Leland,” we were told about many items from my Father’s boyhood home, the farm where his father and grandfather had been born. Everything “belonged.”
I loved that house and the things in it. I loved being able to open a door in my sister Sue’s room and enter the attic, with it’s pressed tin walls and slanted ceiling, wide plank floors and a tiny window overlooking the farm’s outbuildings. Years later, when my parents had to move, that window would hold a chute down which many of the memories would slide, into a truck to sadly be carried away.
Growing up in a world of cared for things, old books, hand-made clothes (Mother was a wonderful seamstress who made everything from our snowsuits to our prom formals) and the occasional treasure box of hand-me-down clothes from the Chicago relatives of our Danish neighbor Agnes, led to a lifelong love of “things old.”
I still prefer old to new, a choice that led to a small antiques business I ran for years. When I stopped vending every other weekend years ago, my inventory came to live with us here.
Most of my collected things are vintage textiles. I’ll have many in my booth at the upcoming Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Show, appropriately named Down Memory Lane, March 10 and 11. Location details under “See My Work Here” and in the previous post.
Our 2017 Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Quilt Show
“A Walk Down Memory Lane”
will be held on
March 10 – 11, 2017
Union County Agricultural Center
3230 Presson Rd
I will be vending here. Hope you’ll stop by to see me in my booth, OCCASIONAL THREADS. Look for the Mylar balloon!