When words become inadequate, actions take front and center.
Quilters have a great capacity for being community for one another. We are stitched together with fabric, needle, and thread. Quilt shops are our classrooms, our places for learning, gathering, and growing as quilters, and as friends. As we wander about a quilt shop we often strike up a conversation with the shop staff or other customers about how to choose fabrics, thread, quilting patterns, batting and patterns. Our early ventures into the quilt shops or quilt guilds we feel like strangers and outsiders until we get to know the lingo, the people, and the different styles of quilting.
Over time, we learn the lingo, we earn our PhD (Projects half done) and graduate to purchasing 4 – 9 yards depending on how much we love a fabric and see the potential. We take classes and get to know people, we find similar styles, interests, or different styles but really cool people anyway. Seeing their differences allows us to appreciate our own style. We get to know the gal in the shop who loves thread, who will wax poetic about needles.
The shop or guild hosts charity events, let’s the guilds meet there, if they can they’ll donate batting, thread, or classroom time. When tragedy strikes, tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, floods, national tragedies…quilters head to their stashes and then the shops to mae quilts for oh so many causes. The outpouring of love knows no boundaries. Quilters respond with the one thing they do best, the offer through their time and talent, a little bit of comfort to those who are deeply hurting. When quilters are in need they respond by donating part of their stashes, notions and hard earned cash to help meet the needs of the other members of the community, whether they know them or not.
And there it is, whether they know them or not.
When a quilt shop closes or a guild shutters, and there are a variety of reasons that they do, the community hurts deeply. Oh does it ever hurt. When my favorite local shop closed I said the most unhelpful, least comforting thing ever, “if I’d know this, I would have done that for you”. Well ya know what, I could have volunteered some time before that.
As you know the shop I currently work in is closing. This has been public for quite some time. Every day quilters express their grief, and heartache. The loss to the greater quilting community is going to be tough. Yes, we’re New Yorkers we’ll be fine. Not the point. These are people who seek refuge with just inside our doors. Inside there is inspiration, creativity, support, help, comfort, and friendship. Even when the sales staff is having a difficult moment (because we know that they are human and are doing their best!), somehow the quilters know deep down that they are loved.
I will tell you with deep honesty these have been nearly the most difficult 8 weeks of the last few years. The grief is overwhelming.
Sometimes I have to get off the floor for just a moment to regroup and refocus. Working in a store that is closing is challenging for the staff. At the end of this not only will we have done our best to comfort and console, remind people this is a good thing (the owners are retiring) and be there for the quilters we’ve learned to love and adore, who have become part of our extended family – we will be looking for new jobs.
And I’m adding here if I had the money I’d probably open a shop in lower Westchester. Oh do I have some ideas swirling inside my head. People have asked why I didn’t purchase the shop I’m working in. Please refer to the first part of this paragraph – if I had the money. I really wouldn’t purchase a shop owned by someone else as it has it’s own personality, it’s own shape, and way of being. It’s not that I want to start something new…oh wait, yes I do. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I simply have ideas.
Quilting is a community. There is no getting around it. Overall the quilting community is struggling a little bit right now. It’s hard. I love this community. It makes my heart ache from the inside and out to experience this. I love this community. I love watching it grow. I love seeing when the community responds in generosity, love and compassion.
Quilting is a community of people. There’s no getting around that either. We’re all good. Like our quilts we’re not all perfect.
I’d like to say go tell your shop owner how much you appreciate them and all the hard work they do. I’d like to say tell the staff too. They work hard. You might not know what you’re going to do without the shop; the owners and staff don’t know either.
Quilt Shop Owner Appreciation Day – Tuesday October 25th