We had our first full day of Houston Quilt Festival yesterday. The show opened at 10am and we were there in our booth, ready to go.
This time, we’re selling not only the 5 quilting CDs, but my new book “The Singing Quilter Songbook”. In addition, we have patterns and are carrying new books for my friends Susan Purney Mark and Daphne Greig. The booth is getting much fuller than usual!
We’ve been seeing lots of friends, including Jan Krentz, Pam Holland (both of whom we first met in 2001 in Fargo ND), Susan Purney Mark, Ami Simms, Lisa Walton (Jewel Pearce Patterson winning quilt teacher from Australia, as was Pam several years ago), Caryl Bryer Fallert, Philippa Naylor (from England) and Jena Moreno who produced and directed the new documentary “Stitched”. It’s one of the best parts about Houston – a bit like folk festivals used to be for me BQ (before quilting).
I did a mini-concert yesterday afternoon at the “Meet the Teachers” area (clear across the conference centre, about a 1/2 mile walk!). On the way, I checked out the Miniature section of the Judged show and found my little quilt “Insanity”. It was thrilling to see it hanging there.
No ribbon (that’s for my next-door neighbour’s), but I don’t care. Very exciting to see it there.
After the concert, I spent a very enjoyable hour at the Alzheimers Art Quilt Initiative booth with Ami Simms. I plunked a cupcake tiara on my head and showed people the quilts. Any quilts purchased while I had the cupcake on my head got sent off with their new owners by a song, composed on the spot, and sung by me. I’ve done this several times before and always had fun. The special auction quilts made by famous quilters like Ricky Tims, Caryl Bryer Fallert and Hollis Chatelain are gorgeous this year.
After I did my concert, a woman approached me to talk. She had a husky breathy voice, like she had laryngitis, and she had a story to tell me about it. She blames her vocal condition on a quilting accident.
She seems to be very bad with sharp things, having sliced into fingers more than once with her rotary cutters. She dropped one on her foot a few years ago and it sliced through tendons in some of her toes (I hate these kind of stories). She had to have surgery on the foot. While under anaesthetic, the intubation damaged her voice. After it was over, she had no voice at all, and the doctors said she might never speak again. I think there were more surgeries, and now she can speak, but not clearly.
It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of anyone losing their voice from a quilting accident!
The second story is much more positive. One of the other vendors came by before the show opened to tell me about a friend’s experience. Her friend is at the show too, and she promised to send her over to tell me the story herself. She did that near the end of the day yesterday.
Christi is a member of a Mormon church that contributes a quilt every year for auction to raise funds for Northwest Assistance Ministries. Last year there was no-one available to make the year’s quilt, and she reluctantly offered. She had only made a few baby quilts before, and this would be a king sized quilt! Also, her husband had just been diagnosed with cancer, and she wasn’t sure she could devote the time to making the quilt, since he would need all her attention. But, because no-one else came forward, she agreed to do what she could. Quilters are like that.
She found a picture of a quilt in Quilters Newsletter Magazine – beautiful, but difficult. She contacted the maker for the pattern, but there was none – the maker of the quilt said it was a very challenging quilt to make. Christi had to work out the pattern through very careful study of the photograph. Throughout, her husband was very supportive. He said “I know you can do it. I will try to be as little trouble as possible so you can keep working on the quilt.”
She said she prayed a lot through this process. She also worked very hard on it. When it came time to do the applique, her husband had a lot of medical appointments and she brought the quilt along with her.
The quilt was completed and she showed it to her husband. Two weeks later, he died.
She almost kept the quilt, because it meant so much to her by then, and to her husband. But the whole point was to give it to the charity, and so she did. On the Saturday of the auction she buried her husband. Later, she received a phone call from a friend. Usually the auction quilts go for about 5,000 dollars. At the auction, the story of this quilt came along with the piece, and the bids came fast and furious. When it was over, the quilt fetched a price of $20,000!!!!
It was sold to a woman whose best friend had just died of cancer. The purchaser gave the quilt to the husband of her friend.
Christi feels there is a completed circle with this quilt, going to another family affected by cancer. She was kind enough to share her story with me, and now I’m sharing it with you.