Quilting in Community
Last Sunday I arrived back at the Ranch in the wee hours after a belated birthday trip to Chicago with my husband. We loved the city. We spent most of our time walking and exploring the wonder neighborhoods and the vast lakefront park a tootling down the river in a water taxi with the mighty city tower overhead on either side. It was a wonderful adventure and lovely to spend time with just my husband and I, no agenda but to be together and enjoy our time together in a new and exciting city. So when I noticed on the calendar that the Ranch Hands Quilt Gathering was happening starting Sunday I decided there was no way I could participate this time around after just being away.
Now let me back up a little and explain what the Ranch Hands week is. I’ll start with what It’s not: it’s not a teaching week, no one stand up front and leads the group in learning a technique; it is not an exclusive group, you don’t have to be a part of a quilting guild or club, people come on there own or with friends from all over the Western states; and lastly the participants aren’t all quilting in the same way, there are art quilters, and traditional quilters, people working from kits, people are sewing on everything from Mocha brown Singer Sewing machines to bright shiny machines that would put the space station to shame. While there is definitely no one star performer teaching a specific technique there is a lot of accumulated knowledge in that room. With 45 quilters spread throughout the beautiful airy pavilion you can find the answer to just about any question and thread to match any fabric you might pull our of your stash. So even though I was jet lagged and hassled by my boundless email inbox I couldn’t resist the allure of all that creative energy. So I pick up my sewing machine and a couple of projects I’d started months ago and set up my shop in the north wing of the Swing pavilion surrounded and supported by millions of hours of accumulated knowledge about fabric and quilting. When my 16 year old son saw me dragging my stuff across the acre of lawn from my studio to the pavilion he asked “can’t you just sew in your studio?” I could, but where’s the fun in that… what would I learn? So despite my time limitations and the need to run off for three hours a day to teach art to k-2nd graders in town, I choose to sew in community. I am so glad I did. Everyone there is working on their own thing, everyone there has something they want to accomplish but there is also this wonder sense of time slowing down, time to wander the isles of sewing machines with quilt design walls propped up against every wall, time to wander and watch, to talk and ask, to kibitz and praise. When one person was vexed by tension troubles another person came by and helped resolve it, when one quilter was dissatisfied with her blocks on the design wall, other came to give feedback and helped move pieces around while she stood back and found the order she was looking for. When I hand sewing the binding on my fourth small art quilt of the week and poked my finger raw needle finger once again a friend and long time hand quilter offered to finish the binding for me! I gratefully handed it over. All this and some much more could never have happen alone in my studio. I am grateful for the opportunity to soak in such energy and goodwill and will return to my little studio renewed and inspired.
The Bishop’s Ranch is offering a Quilt Retreat in February 2013, form the 10-14th. As with the quilting retreat I described this is a time for all levels and styles of quilters to bring ongoing projects or start new ones. Everyone bring their own sewing machine and supplies, but community cutting tables, design walls, and ironing stations are set up to share. Of course all around is the beauty of the Ranch outside every window, and lots of open space to wander and shake off the sewing machine shoulder hunch. And don’t forget the most fabulous food you would ever want to eat. Here is the link to the Ranch website I am going to be at this retreat it would be great if some of you were there too! Bishop’s Ranch Quilt Retreat