Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a holiday that many people have patriotically proclaimed to be unique to America, totally ignoring the harvest festivals that have been celebrated by practically every civilization and nation since the invention of agriculture.  But it is a lovely holiday, one that supposedly focuses our thoughts on just how much we have to be thankful for.

This being a blog mostly about art, and specifically needle art, I'll confine my recitation of thanks to that area.  Today I'm thankful, among other things, for the sewing machine, and that the models available today are run by electricity, unlike the treadle machine that my grandmother used (until my grandfather added an electric motor to it).  I have hand-pieced and hand-quilted enough to know that I greatly prefer to do neither; without the machine I would not make quilts.

I'm thankful for batting that I can order in a huge roll that's delivered to my door every couple of years, so that I don't have to pick the seeds out of the cotton bolls before making a quilt.  I'm thankful for all the high-quality fabric now available -- such a contrast from when I started making quilts and you were lucky to find a few insipid pastelly calicos, not to mention from when our grandmothers had to make clothing and quilts from feed sacks.  I'm thankful that I can afford lots and lots of fabric, that I don't have to restrict myself to scraps as so many of the earlier quilters did.

I'm thankful for the thousands of weights and colors of thread on the market, perfectly designed for exactly the machine and technique I want to use today, and that I can afford to keep drawers full of different kinds at hand.  I'm thankful that needles, too, come in so many different shapes and sizes, and that I don't have to guard just one to last me all my life.  (Although I've kept my favorite needle around for years despite the subtle bend at its waist.)

I'm thankful for rotary cutters and cutting mats.  I could never have made my beloved improvisational quilts without them -- or perhaps it's more accurate to say I would never have made them.  The rotary cutter, with its ability to "draw a line," transformed the mindset of our generation of artists and we'll never be the same, fortunately.

I'm thankful that quilts moved from the bed to the wall about 30 years ago, at the hands of a few visionaries, and for the subsequent explosion of interest in this art form.  I'm thankful that we have the myriad of shows, books, workshops, magazines and blogs devoted to the quilt on the wall.  When I started making quilts, self-taught, I could never have imagined the wealth of resources that would grow up from nowhere to guide, influence and sustain me and others who share my love.

I'm thankful that the community we have built around this shared love is so supportive and inclusive.  Sure, we complain about cliques and prejudices and bemoan the authors, teachers, jurors and curators who like stuff that we consider beneath us. But on the whole, the world of quilts as art is a pretty comfortable place to reside.  I often hear artists in other mediums gasp in astonishment over all the opportunities open to us that do not exist for painters, sculptors or whatever.

One such opportunity that I am particularly thankful for today is the internet, which has enabled me to write this blog and stay in touch with so many friends and colleagues.  Many of you I have been fortunate to meet in person, many of you are cyberfriends of long tenure, and many of you are total strangers.  Yet from every one of you I value your support, love your comments, appreciate your reading.  Thank you for making my life so much richer.


  1. And thanks for all you do and put here..
    Don't underestimate the Treadle machine, though, my work is almost all made on one or another of my treadles.. No axe to grind, but a More Efficient Way for me..


  2. And thanks so much for making our lives richer with your writing.

  3. And I am thankful to you, Kathy, for your articulate and eloquent expression of what I am thinking and feeling every day. Long live the art of the needle!

  4. A loud AMEN to your expressions of thankfulness--what a wonderful time to be an art quilter with today's fabrics, thread, tools, machines, books, and contact with like-minded individuals who share so freely with us all.
    Martha Ginn

  5. What a wonderful post and I am very thankful for the same things! I remember quilting before rotary cutters........

  6. Yes, many thanks for the boom in the textile marketplace and the resources to be able to take advantage of it.

  7. And I am so thankful for you, your words and perspectives make me think, you help to clarify and simplify.