Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012: No way to explain it

How could I ever explain this masterpiece falling into my lap?
Last night I got back home from Maine, and discovered a Christmas card from a long lost friend. A year had passed since our last communication, and as I scrambled to reply with the news about the last year, I realized so many good things happened to me in 2012. There was no way to explain it. But I tried.

Of course, there were quilts- lots of them! As much as I hate to single out one piece, the unwitting discovery of an applique counterpane, c. 1820, by Achsah Goodwin Wilkins (1775-1853) in an auction at Skinner was the highlight of the year. When I was trying to describe its importance to my friend, who is not a quilt person, I called it an early relic of American abolitionist sentiment. It was a collaboration between an affluent, white woman from Baltimore, who created the designs, and African-American women who were likely to include freed slaves living in the Wilkins' home. These women worked together, and made some of the most beautiful and enduring objects of the time. That seems to suggest some type of bond within the circle- something more than an employer/employee relationship.

There were so many amazing quilts arriving on my doorstep in 2012, it would take at least five blogs to mention them all. Here are just a few of my favorites.

The Willow Tree Quilt, c. 1790, New England
Layered Fans, c. 1920, New York
Wholecloth wool quilt, c. 1790, New England
Mountain Mist New York Beauty, c. 1930
Cinco de Mayo, 2008, Buda Bee Quilters, Texas
"Great Cities²" 2010, by Christine Wrobel, WA
USA Map, c. 1975, Texas
"Cross Currents Study #3" 1995, by Andrea Balosky, OR
The year wasn't all about objects. It was about friends- longtime friends, new friends, and people I'd wanted to meet in person for a long, long time. I finally got to meet Julie Silber, after buying quilts from her for over ten years. I also got to meet Roderick Kiracofe, who visited me at my home, and Bob Shaw and Joe Cunningham, who were part of Quilt Adventure weekend with Julie at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham.

I met many more people in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the American Quilt Study Group Seminar, where I did a study center and luncheon roundtable about New York Beauty Quilts. I was happy to finally meet Stella Rubin, and my class roster seemed like a who's who in quilt history circles. During one of the breaks, I met with Barbara Brackman, Debby Cooney, Kay and Lori Triplett, and Merikay Waldvogel when we had a private viewing of the applique counterpane by Achsah Goodwin Wilkins.

While in Lincoln, I had dinner with Shelly Zegart and her husband, Kenny. Shelly and I have kept in touch, but hadn't seen each other in person since 2001. Later, in Williamsburg, I met many more people, and had more viewings of the counterpane with small groups of very distinguished individuals.

In between events, I made my first quilts and surprised Mom with two in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, including a quilt that won a blue ribbon for viewer's choice in the Small Wonders Challenge. Mom and I had a long, wonderful visit in July.

with Nyima Lhamo (Andrea Balosky) at Sisters
With Shelly Zegart in Lincoln, Nebraska 
Bob Shaw in Bellingham, at the Whatcom Museum

Being in Quilters Newsletter magazine was another highlight of 2012. Like a lot of other things, it just fell into my lap. There was a full-blown personality feature with pictures of quilts, all about me and my collection of New York Beauty quilts.

As a result of the article, I was invited to display quilts at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in 2013. It's a huge honor, and I can't wait!

Throughout 2012, the thing that impressed me most was the quality of the people who are involved with quilts and textiles. I met so many thoughtful, loving people, and it was particularly evident at the large gatherings. Everyone seemed to know me before I arrived, and I was warmy welcomed everywhere I went.

I wrapped up the reply to my long lost friend by saying, "I really have no way to explain all this good fortune, but I'm thankful for it."


  1. Some of us understand that all things operate like this: things happen from you, not at/to you. So, keep operating from an expansive heart because the secret is that you become the beneficiary. Itʻs an open secret.

  2. It's certainly been a good year for you filled with quilts and wonderful people with like minds.
    Amazing how a textile could get us all talking- if only the original makers could see how we are enjoying their endeavors .

  3. What a year! I look forward to seeing how 2013 will unfold!!

  4. I come to this quilt world as an amateur (mostly quilt making with a love of the history that goes with it) but I get all those same wonderful feelings with every interaction I make with those who love quilts. And the internet has expanded all these possibilities for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your progress through the year and derived pleasure in watching your growth and good fortune. Thanks for allowing me to learn along with you.