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 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.