Thursday, July 25, 2013

Saving Our Stories

Stories are full of power.

They bind us to people, places and objects in a way that few other methods do.

They inspire us to be better, they incite us to action, they compel us to give, they change our minds or they confirm our knowing.

And the re-telling of stories, calls forth the greater forces of love, mercy, generosity and strength.  And through these forces, we connect.

Being the needlework junkie that I am, I like all things to do with a needle and thread.  That being said, I tend to prefer needlework that tells a story...

Often, as a viewer attending a quilt or needlework show, I am left wanting more.  Beyond just the name of the artist and title of the work, I want to know why they made it?  For whom?  What are they trying to say?

This past weekend I was lucky to spend time with two organizations who believe in the power of story.

On Saturday, I attended the one-day conference, Not Fade Away: Sharing Quilt Stories in the Digital Age.  The conference was sponsored by the Alliance for American Quilts, a non-profit organization who has been documenting and saving the stories of quilts for the past 20 years.  You can read more about their oral history project, Quilters' S.O.S. (Save Our Stories), here.  As each quilt interview is completed, you can also read the transcript of the interviews on the website...all of the audio files as well as pictures of the quilts are being archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The day was filled with interviews of quilters sharing their stories and a series of different workshops of which I took two.

One workshop was on Self-Publishing using Create Space (owned by Amazon) -- loved it! And the other workshop was a training on how to conduct my own QSOS interview.  You can read how to get involved and download the Guidebook for conducting an interview here.

The conference was well-organized and I would definitely go again.  Luckily for all attendees, they partnered with the Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibit so that our meeting was held in the same building as the 2013 show.
All I can say is Wow!  

I haven't been to tons of quilt shows...maybe just a dozen or so...but this was the first quilt show that set my soul on fire.

The quilts on display dealt with personal and/or spiritual subject matter with categories that included Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing, and Peace.  Hanging beside each quilt was a statement that described the spiritual journey the artist took in making their quilt.

It was an intimate exhibit...and the lack of ropes allowed the attendee to get up close and really see the details on each quilt.  Photography was not allowed but I was able to find some (not all) of my faves online...

Change Your Mind by Karen Cunagin
Mother and Child Crazy Quilt by Debra Spincic
Memories by Jennifer Day
St. Francis Preaches to the Birds by Barbara Curiel 
My Friend is Bi-Polar by Laurie Ceesay
Not Just Blue by Susan Walen

To say I was moved is an understatement.  Many times I was able to empathize with the maker who expressed their joy or grief or sorrow with needle and thread.  The Sacred Threads Quilt Show is held through this weekend in Herndon, VA.  If you live anywhere close by, I highly recommend going.

I wouldn't have gone myself either had it not been for my blogging needle friend, Allie Aller.  She was the one who invited me since she is on the Board of the Quilt Alliance and was planning to attend.

Allie and Susan, a bit dewy from their ride on the Mount Vernon Trail
Our story began in 2006 when I first started blogging.  Her blog was one of my favorites as I was eager to devour as much crazy quilting knowledge as I could.  At the time, Sharon Boggon of Pintangle was running a "100 Details in 100 Days" on her blog and Allie had decided to follow along, interpreting Sharon's detail as a seam treatment onto her Crazy for Flowers Quilt.  I followed Allie and worked on my Tea Therapy block.

So from these connections a friendship was born.  Fast forward to today and Allie has now turned "pro" in the quilting world. She's a nationally-renowned teacher, author and has just recently offered an online Crazy Quilting class through Craftsy.    If you are the least bit interested in crazy quilting, I highly recommend it.

Allie and I took advantage of being in Northern Virginia and biked along the Potomac River on the Mount Vernon Trail.  We had read wonderful things about the trail ride and it did not disappoint.

On Monday, we took an emergency trip to New York City for the day.  That's because Allie had found out that Tinsel Trading was moving and they were having a huge sale!

Antique Metal Ribbon at Tinsel Trading Company, NYC
It's true.  They are moving on August 31 and it is unclear as to how much of the current inventory will be moving to the new location.  That means...if you're anywhere close to NYC, you might want to stop in there for the sale...there were some great deals to be had.  Fingers crossed that the store will still emphasize vintage notions and supplies for the enthusiastic artist but there are no guarantees.

As for Allie, we always have fun and it's easy to pick up where we last left off...laughing and sharing and dreaming.

Thanks for coming Allie.  I hated to see you leave.

P.S.  I found this great online resource by an Quilt Appraiser on "What to Put on a Quilt Label"'s worth a read and much of it translates needlework as well.  The only task I might add is the importance of taking a picture of yourself, the maker, while you are in the process of making the item as well as little note about your process.

P.P.S.  My own life story is taking me on the trip of a lifetime to Scotland.

I'm a bit excited with all things Scotch at the moment and I'm afraid my enthusiasm will be bubbling over onto this blog in the next few days.  Just preparing you...I'm leaning toward tweeds and plaids and thistles and heather...oh yeah, and scotch!

Mrs. Rose is going to hang tight until September when life settles back into a routine...roses need stability in order to bloom and I'm anything but stable at the moment!~


DebbieSFL said...

Scotland!! Have a wonderful time!!

gracie said...

So glad I stopped by today. A lovely post.

Debra Spincic said...

Thanks for the link to my piece, Mother & Child: My Mother, My Hope. It was a true honor to be in the show. I wish I could have met you while I was there!

Allison Aller said...

What a wonderful post about two great events and also a fabulous visit. Thank you so much for everything!
I told Susan that one of the very high points for me of the entire trip was watching her respond to the amazing fabric and lace stores we went into--I learned of fine materials and supplies that were brand new to me and I loved listening to how she will use them. This was a marvelous window into her world of creativity. It was also cool to see what she noticed and found at Tinsel Trading--her eyes are tuned to a different wavelength than mine. I finally just started following her around through the store!
It was a privilege and a great pleasure to take on the Garment District if only for a half day with my talented and knowledgeable friend. We cracked a bottle of wine on the bus on the way back down to Baltimore and talked and laughed and dreamed....

Lisa said...

Have a fabulous trip Susan! How wonderful that you and Allie have been able to experience such fun adventures together!

Judy S. said...

Oh, Susan, I just might be turning green with envy! You got to see in person 2 quilts by online stitching friend, then you got to spend time with Allie, and next you announce that you are going to Scotland. (That was part of our 40th anniv. trip.) You will have a GREAT time. Yep, I am surely green! LOL

margaret said...

what a great blog, so much to see and rad about. Loved the quilt of the old lady Memories so much expression in the face, Have a lovely time in Scotland, shame you are not coming further south but there is nothing worth seeing here in Leeds!! except me of course.

Mouse said...

ohhh the two of you sound like you had a fabulous time and the story of the quilts is fascinating isn't it ....
and love those trims and you are coming over the pond ... ooooooo
you are only going to be a few hundred miles from me instead of thousands heheheheh..

where about's are you going to be going ???? love mouse xxxx
shame I couldn't get to meet you ....

Rachel said...

It sounds like a fabulous day. And it will be interesting to see the fruit borne by your obsession with all things Scottish!

Elaine said...

Have a wonderful time in Scotland! I come from just outside Aberdeen, but I now live in the south of England.

Marty52 said...

I'm green with envy, Ms. Susan!! You've been having a fab time and now you are going to Scotland... be still my beating heart! Have you ever read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? She brought the history of Scotland to life for me.

Alisa said...

You are going to LOVE Scotland, Susan! My husband and I went just over a year ago and fell madly in love... especially with the Highlands.

Marsha said...

I can't wait to read more. One of my favorite scenes in Downton Abby was the long gravel driveway to the gorgeous gray stone castle with stormy skies and green green trees and lawn surrounding it, in Scotland. What a trip you will have. I'm excited for you.

Shirlee Fassell said...

Sounds like another Sophia Grace and Rosie moment!! Have a Fabulous time in Scotland.

wendy said...

Have a wonderful time in Scotland!!

Jane said...

Have a great time in Scotland. I'm sure you will love it.

Sheila Iskin said...

What a wonderful way to spend a visit! Have a great time in Scotland.

If you have access to Audible Books, I highly recommend attuning your ear to the Scottish accent by listening to Stephen Briggs read "Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett. A children's bookstore steered us, thus, when we asked if there was something wonderful my daughter might enjoy, and our family has never looked back. It's entertainingly funny and wise. We've never looked back. "Crivens!"

Have a GREAT trip!

Createology said...

Susan Dear this post is so very full of wonderful information I am still "linking". You are a wealth of knowledge and thank you so very much for sharing. Scotland?! What a fabulous study and place to visit. I have never...yet...been there. Oh the plaids...

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Hi Susan
I absolutely loved this post. The "Memories" quilt just grabbed my eyes. I can't imagine seeing these quilts in person.

You are becoming quite the world traveler!! It's an exciting time for you in so many ways, but sad too as the chick prepares to leave the nest!
xx, Carol

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