Friday, June 15, 2012

Old Ladies Know Stuff

PSA: this post is wordy and is meant as encouragement. Oh, and the word "Old" is used in the most endearing way possible - to show my admiration and respect for the generous women in my life  who have reached wise status in the years that they have lived before me. And let's face it, for some of you reading this blog, my almost 45 years puts me well into Old Lady range.

I've tweeted the title of this post twice during separate sessions of TalkNT (this is a lively sponsored Twitter discussion hosted by Cara every week - if you don't know what Twitter is, don't worry, you are probably an Old Lady Who Knows More Important, Other Stuff).  It came up both times in response to people expressing disappointment that there wasn't a modern guild, or other quilters of similar age close by, for real-life quilting experiences.  I understand when young quilters are put off by cranky old ladies at guild meetings. I've been there (on the receiving end of cranky old lady). It's not a nice feeling, but trust me when I say that kind, generous women outnumber the crankies 20 to 1 (I took statistics at university. I know stuff).

I love being a member of the VMQG, but I'd like to share some of the reasons why I also adore my traditional guild. Group quilting is not for everyone. I'm not saying you have to go out and join a guild. This post is meant as encouragement for those looking to find some 'real life' quilting homeys.

  • Joining an established 'traditional' quilt guild can be intimidating for a quilter of any age. Guilds are predominantly populated by women. Women like to hang out in groups. You first saw this in Gr.2, so it shouldn't be any surprise when you enter a guild meeting and it seems like everyone is talking to someone else and you can't seem to find a friendly face or opportunity to bust in.  ADVICE: smile and wander. Approach the membership table and let someone know you are visiting and interested in joining the guild. Let her know what kind of quilting you like and ask if she knows of anyone else who enjoys that, too. Could she introduce you? If all else fails, take a seat and bust out your hexies. Old Ladies Cannot Resist Hexagons.
  • Guilds typically have extensive libraries of resource books for monthly borrowing. You may not find the most recent modern quilt books, but there is plenty of inspiration for current quilting trends in Amish, Gee's Bend, Liberated quilting, block collections and Civil War quilting books (use your imagination to get past all the brown fabric - I'm with you girlfriend).
  • Old Ladies Want to Know More Stuff. When I started quilting 10 years ago there were no free tutorials. No blogs. No online courses. Heck, I had just gotten an email account!  Everything I learned about quilting I learned by taking guild workshops from Ladies Who Know Stuff (I didn't say Old because some of them were not Old).  I often see comments about not wanting to quilt by the rules, or the scourge of the 'quilt police' but good technique is not a bad thing. If I've learned anything from the mature quilting crowd it's that you can never take enough workshops. Even if the project doesn't turn my crank, I bring fabric along that does and I always, ALWAYS learn something new.  Plus, guilds are not-for-profit, so their workshops are often more affordable than quilt store or night school classes.
  • Old Ladies Know Stuff about Stuff: not just quilting. I have had the enormous good fortune to be in a small Friday stitching group of lovely women (one of many satellite groups from our massive guild over over 160 people). They are all older than me. Our ages range from early 40's to over 70. We share a lot and we support each other. Aside from sewing expertise, they have tremendous parenting experience, knowledge related to health challenges and menopause and STASH to share. Plus, they support me like crazy. They are the first to see many of my projects and provide the encouragement that I know my mom would give me were she not 4000 km away.
  • Old Ladies Appreciate your Efforts. If you put yourself out there, participate and volunteer, you will find like-minded people in any guild to hang out with.   I do have a caution though: in my experience, there is a tendency to dump a lot of volunteer work on the 'young, enthusiastic one'. Be realistic about your time so you don't burn out. I have learned that retired women are busy too, not to mention they feel like they've done their service and should be able to sit back and relax!  I am looking forward to retiring.
  • Finally, no MQG in your area? You've tried the local guild and just can't make it work? Start your own group! Ask around at your kids' school, organize a creative mom's day and invite people to sew, bead, knit, paint or scrapbook together. I started a Mother's Day Creative retreat with moms from school 5 years ago and people look forward to it like crazy.  Don't have kids? Ask around at work. Ask at fitness class. Take your hexies to the coffee shop and stitch there, or at the local library. Maybe you'll find a kindred creative spirit to get together with once a month.
I get enormous pleasure from participating in my guilds. If you've got advice on making guilds work for you, or starting your own group, please share in the comments.


You know what the great thing is? Young women become old ladies. Old Ladies Who Know Stuff.

I figure I'm half way there.



49 comments:

Deborah said...

What an absolutely dynamite post! So nicely said and so full of wisdom!

Belinda said...

As on old lady who knows stuff, I LOVE your post - thanks! Your tips for "breaking in" to a new group are great! They are things I tell my 22 yr old shy child - things I didn't learn until I was beyond 30.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

I'm at least 3/4 of the way there and I am in a guild where I learn LOTS even though I don't get much of any comments when I bring my bright, modern quilts for show and tell.
Love this post Krista. If I was a writer, I could have written it!

Barb Robson said...

Thanks for this post. As a sometimes participant on #talknt I always feel like the Grandmother. I want to share my almost 40 years of qulting experience. I love to hear what everyone is up to. You are right about Guilds, we need new, young members or in 10 years time there won't be Guilds anymore. I was saddened to see so few "young" quilters at Quilt Canada. Our Retreat offers a full scholarship to an under 40 quilter, we are trying to encourage them. We need and want you to join us, to sha with us.
Thanks again!

Leanne said...

Truly, most ladies know stuff and they don't feel old on their insides. Lovely post, thanks for the encouragement.

Kathy P said...

Well said Krista! I'm ten years your senior, and "I Know Stuff" too. Thanks for making me realize it. Great post!

carol said...

That's "IT" you youngin' you! Us wise old bags know alot about nuthin! So, if you don't get your fill at your guild meetings, you can always e-mail me! lol

Marianne Penner said...

Thanks Krista, I have found it very difficult to break into the local Abbotsford Quilters groups. Thanks or all the great advice!

Jo Ann said...

Having realized that at work I m an oldie (39 will do that sometimes!), thank you, I totally agree! I adore my quilt friends of all ages! Age does not define adults the same way as children. Common interests are key. Most quilters in my experience are fabulous people, all of us can make a bad impression, we need to be forgiving and try again sometimes. When learn new stuff we can take what we want and adapt to suit our own styles and likes! Love the post.

felicity said...

Right on the money, for sure! I joined my original, traditional guild to access the library. I definitely felt like everyone knew everyone else except me - and it was true since I was new! But what made the difference for me, what gave me the opportunity to meet people, was to volunteer. I started small - volunteering a day at our quilt show. Then I volunteered to join the executive - an easy low-profile position (Secretary) that got me to the meetings, and got people recognizing my face (and vice versa). Then *I* was one of the people who knew everyone else!

paulette said...

EXCELLENT post and it is applicable to all kinds of quilters! How did you get to be so smart as such a young age!! haha
P(who is older than dirt!!)

quiltmom said...

This is a brilliant post Krista- for one reason or another I have not been a regular guild member though I do have a group of women that I meet with to quilt and take a class with- It is important to find that sense of belonging whatever way you can. I belong to a quilt forum and have enjoyed learning and sharing more quilty things there- and of course there is the great group of bloggers that share their tutorials. ideas and patterns etc..
Loved this post from a somewhat older old lady than yourself..
Regards,
Anna

Janine said...

yes, yes, yes!!!

Lynne (Lily's Quilts) said...

I'm still too scared to join a proper quilt guild, put off by fear of not being good enough for those groups and doing everything the wrong way. But I do have an informal group who comes and sits around my kitchen table - we're up to ten now and we talk a lot, drink a lot of coffee and do very little sewing although we do talk fabrics and quilts a lot of the time along with all the other drivel we talk about. This is a wonderful post and makes me think I should perhaps be a bit braver about joining a local traditional guild.

susan said...

Excellent post! Thanks.

Flying Blind... said...

Wise words my friend, but I am still too chicken xxx

Kirsty@Bonjour said...

I will be interested to see what is around when I get back to Australia, it would be nice to meet with real people for a change! I don't have any friends who quilt or are crafty, so all my friendships in this area are online for me.
Excellent post with some great hints. You will always learn something if you keep an open mind (and persist past the cranky old lady).

Sarah said...

Fantastic post - very wise words - those ladies have imparted what they know well! Thanks for this!

Katy Cameron said...

Lol, all good thoughts! The 'modern' guild I started ranges from the 20-somethings to the 60-somethings (right enough some of the older ones were surprised to be invited lol), but I did hold out on the only traditional one I know of, which my gran had told me about. She doesn't sew, but a couple of her friends attended and then stopped going because you had to do what everyone else was doing, and it had to be their way (I presume they were making community quilts or something similar, but she was somewhat vague on the technicalities!) If the old ladies didn't like it, I thought it might drive me nuts lol

Lesly said...

Perfectly put, Krista! When I hear derogatory comments about quilt police and judgmental old ladies and not wanting to quilt by the rules, I'm reminded of what Mark Twain said: "When I was 18, I thought my father was pretty dumb. After a while when I got to be 21, I was amazed to find out how much he'd learned in three years." P.S. Our guild had its show last week and I actually got to be the quilt police and wear white gloves. Power rush!

Patti Shanks said...

A lovely and encouraging post, Krista! As others have said, I too am a bit cowardly to join and I think I'm more of a "lone wolf" quilter!

Bobbi said...

What an awesome post. I took a bag class a few years ago with my cousin (handmadebyheidi) and at lunch we both whip out our blackberry. Well the 2 "older" women sitting in front of us said girls put your phones away. Let's talk. It was the nicest conversation I had in years. They can definitely teach you something about everything. They have been around the block. :)

What Comes Next? said...

I have learned so much from my traditional guild - would not give it up for the world. Great suggestions Krista and so very well put!

Michelle said...

What a great post! I have been wanting to join a guild, but I haven't mustered up the nerve :) I am basically self taught...no classes...relying heavily on my sister's experience and the generosity of other bloggers, so I feel somewhat intimidated around those who have so much more experience. Silly, though, as I know there is SO much I could learn from them! Thanks for the encouragement...I may just have to contact my local guild and take the plunge ;-)

Jennifer said...

... and don't forget about sharing food together!!! Any quilter I've ever met, always enjoys food, too. Young or old.

Chimo from,
grey haired and proud of it,
Jennifer

pamela said...

I have been to one quilt guild meeting with my sister who lives in a different state. They were having show and tell and I brought a modern quilt to show. They barely clapped and when others showed more traditional quilts they went nuts. Now I am to scarred to join my local guild. Oh, I am even older than you by almost 5 years. So, I quilt alone or with my alder daughter who is not far from 30.

Kim said...

Such a great post! I am a modern quilter, but I started out traditional. I still go to my traditional quilt shop and love to take classes and chat with anyone who loves quilting. At the last class we all had a great time - my quilt top was the odd ball with bright modern fabrics. It didn't matter to me or them whether it fit in or not. There is so much knowledge to be handed down, I love to take it all in. In the end I still make my own decisions. Thanks for sharing :)

Dianne said...

This post is wonderful Krista, sage advice for sure! So happy to be one of your Old Lady friends!

Dianne said...

My advice for those who feel they are not a "good enough" quilter to join a guild? Remember that everyone started at the beginning and progressed from there. If you are worried about reactions to your guilt at show and tell, tell the guild that you are new quilter are eager to learn and really appreciate their support and encouragement then show them your quilt. They will feel needed and supportive straight away.
Felicity & Krista are bang on with their comments about volunteering. It is THE best way to get to know people and to have an effect on the content of classes, speakers etc. Trust me, I'm and Old Lady (who was once a young woman) Who Knows Stuff! ;0)

Tamie said...

What a great post. Thank you for the reminder to all.

Ariane said...

I joined my local quilt guild 3 years ago. I didn't know anyone, but had been encouraged by a local blogger, Michelle aka Dresden Quilter. I had never met her before the first meeting. I didn't really meet anyone except for Michelle the first year. I'm pretty shy. The second year I got to meet more people. The ladies would come up to me congratulating me on my finished quilts that I brought for show and tell. Then, I was asked to be on the executive for my third year. I'm the webmaster. Pretty low key position.!!! I'm the youngest member of my guild. All the ladies have been so encouraging and welcoming. There is the odd cranky lady...but that's just the reality of the world. I just try to ignore them. Stick to the positive people!!! I worked at the quilt show and loved it!! It was hard work...but I met so many people and it was very rewarding. Being young...some expect a lot from me. But, I am very careful to only do what I can handle. I have learned to say no!! This was a great post Krista. I live my traditional quilt guild. They are very welcoming!!

Rebecca Jane said...

Hey Krista,
Proud to be an 'old' lady! For all those who are afraid to join a guild - my first meeting, people were 'saving' seats, and wouldn't let me sit with them. Like Felicity, I joined the executive team, and now I count Krista, Double N Dianne, and many more as my QFFs (Quilting Friends Forever), who have seen me through trials and tribulations and many quilts. As I move to a new city, I can only hope to find just a wonderful a gang. Not to mention, hang on to the fabulous quilting friends I have today.

traceyjay said...

so true! all of it!
thanks K!

Lynda said...

All this is so true. I'm an old lady and am happy to be so. I also belong to several groups and find the support (quilty and other)I get from them invaluable. I would say your statistics of 20 to 1 for cranky v lovely are out - 99 v 1 I would say! Power to old ladies!

Barb said...

Thanks Krista! What a great post...you are so right. I've always joined my local traditional guild and I'm usually the youngest by several years. But I always find everyone very welcoming, very helpful and just plain nice. And while they might not make quilts with the fabric I like, most of them are amazing quilters. I have so much to learn from them. Thanks again for reminding me.

M-R said...

So, so true, Krista! I love my traditional guild and I have learned so much for these 'old ladies who know stuff'. I was very excited to give back and share some of what I've learned from the online and modern quilt world with them earlier this month. Great post!

Ginette said...

Such a great post! I am the youngest member of our little quilt group of 6. We range in ages from 36 to 73. I have learned SO much from these friends of mine, quilt related and not! We have been quilting together for over 12 year now and we have a blast!
I also love going to my traditional guild. I even volunteered to take care of next year's challenge where I hope to share some of my ideas and inspiration with them. Thanks!

Michele Pacey said...

I think about joining the local guild. I realize they know stuff. Geez yeah. The problem is me not them. I'm super-shy and have issues being in crowds of people I don't know. Shoot, I have issues in crowds of people I DO know.

I like the thought. The problem is actually doing something about it.

Monika Kinner Whalen, Fibre / Embroidery Artist said...

: )




!

Terrific. Too right.

Monika

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

This is why I'm in 2 guilds and meet at the LQS for the Thursday sew-in's each week. At 49, I'm one of the younger ones there. We have fun teaching each other new techniques and bouncing ideas off each other.

Allison said...

I love this post, thanks for writing it! Quitling in public is a great way to attract attention & meet people - I've been known to take my hand stitching to church :)

CitricSugar said...

Great post! I think it might also apply to church ladies.. :-) Any encouragement for people to share with each other sounds like great advice to me!

Kwilty Pleasures said...

Wonderful post! What I have learned in 20 years of quilting - age doesn't matter when you put needle & thread to fabric. What matters is being able to be open minded so you can learn from each other-no matter the age. I belong to 3 guilds, 1 traditional, 1 a mixed bunch and 1 modern, 1 Saturday quilt group and do LOTS of volunteer quilting for community service. All ages, all styles, all great! KWILT ON!

Danielle said...

I've read your post a couple of times now - it's so well written. Grappling with these issues myself at the moment as I would really like to join a group but find the local guild not very welcoming so far. Early days though... Thanks for your words of wisdom!

Barbie Mills said...

Such a great post! I recently joined the Salt Lake MQG, and still need to get to know people in the group. I like your "smile and wander" idea. I need to do more of that.

Katie @SwimBikeQuilt said...

I think this is excellent. I hate living in an area that is an age ghetto, sometimes. (DC area--so many young professionals).

Sara said...

What a great post! I started quilting in my 20's and now in my 30's I can honestly say my monthly quilt group is the highlight of my week. You don't talk about work, you talk about fabric and tell funny stories - it's a great way to switch off! As for the age difference, I have told the other ladies that because of them I no longer fear the menapause - I know exactly what will happen!lol:)

Sue said...

Would it be possible to "borrow" part of your essay, giving you credit of course, for our traditional quilt guild newsletter in Flint Michigan? I'm the newsletter editor and avid quilter, a geologist too, and at 57, younger than most in the guild. I came into the guild about 5 years ago a new quilter, and though my style is more liberated and my points don't always match, I have been enthusiastically welcomed and have learned more from them than any amount of formal classes. I have always felt that, in general, old people knew stuff, but you have put it into words for all of us. Thanks,

Mary said...

When I was not an 'old' lady, I belonged to a guild and found the 'old' ladies to be very encouraging. There is so much to learn and learning isn't limited to those of a certain age or experience. A more seasoned quilter can learn from a new quilter as well.