Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The New Guard

On Sunday I managed a few precious moment whilst the boys were playing to watch some of the Quilt Con talks on Craftsy.

I watched Mary Fons talking about the legacy of quilting and the gaps between the old school and the modern movement that is sweeping through the quilting community. She was a very dynamic speaker with oodles of energy!

She raised so many interesting points. There is a divide between the 2 communities, that comes partly from the age differences involved. When I started quilting 17 years ago I would attend fairs and shows only to be looked on as an oddity. I was repeatedly told that if I worked hard enough I would have a stash/get my point perfect/be as good as them. They were all comments from well meaning members of the 'old guard' of quilting (Marys words).

But those well meaning comments were made without ASKING me what I had actually achieved to date. Without even stopping and thinking that maybe I have a stash or that despite my age I may be able get perfect points.... It was a ageism in reverse! At 20 I was too young to possibly know what I was doing...

I was at the start of my journey, but I had been patchworking for 2 years by then and had taught myself through books as the classes were full of the 'old guard' who were nice, but overwhelming with patronising comments.

When I started there were rumblings of the hobby dying a death due to the 'old guard' getting older and no-one coming into the hobby who was young. It was a very real fear, but I always despaired that the very people concerned with young not coming into quilting, were the ones who put us off!

I was a rare young quilter, a complete oddity among family and friends - until they wanted a quilt. I knew no other quilters as young as me. I felt isolated and on a limb in a world before blogs and reliable internet (I know, there was such a time!).

Now I am part of an online community that embraces quilters young and old. The 'new guard' is full of possibilities and there are no anxieties about perfect points - we are making quilts for the joy of making quilts! We are making them for love, comfort and joy. There are numerous designs and scope for exploration without the constraints of perfection - but we mustn't throw out the old...

From the long tradition of quilting - which is hundreds of years old - there is a history of technique and knowledge that must be acknowledged and preserved. We will lose so much if we don't keep one foot in the history of community's heritage, I just hope that as the 'new guard' we are able to accept new ideas and new quilters with open arms and oodles of enthusiasm!

After all, as Mary Fon's said, one day the 'new guard' will become the 'old guard'. I hope we continue to have a wonderful community to be the 'old guard' to!

Mary shared her photo of her modern quilters work space... here is mine, complete with sewing machine, computer, iPad and fabric!

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