Tonight one of our local guilds had Harriet Hargrave as a speaker, so of course I attended along with a couple of my friends. Have you heard her give a presentation or attended a class? I tried to take a couple photos, but I was so far back in the audience that my shots turned out pretty blurry.
I think we all get different things out of quilting, and our approach to this wonderful hobby varies. Harriet is the kind of person who wants to do well whatever she takes on. Obviously she strives toward perfection and encourages all of us to do the same. I buy that--I think my view on quilting is somewhat similar, although I don't think I am quite as serious a quilter as she is. Still, I take pride in my work, and "good enough" often isn't--but that's me.
I have friends and acquaintances who are happy just making something fast and pretty for their kitchen table or to put on their couch. The fact that they made something by hand is satisfaction enough. Just the act of putting hands to fabric is therapy--whether the finished product is precise and the points aren't cut off doesn't really matter. That's not the goal they strive toward. And that's okay, I think; I'm not sure Harriet would agree, but that's okay too. We need people like Harriet who excel at what they do to lead the rest of us who want to be better.
I would love to live near her shop in Colorado and take a machine quilting class from her. At least I think I would. It sounds like hard work, but in the end, my quilting skills would be so much better!
Harriet believes that what we do when we piece and quilt--or even when we just think about quilting--is all practice that helps us improve. I completely agree. Over the years, the precision of my cutting and stitching has gotten better and better. I "practice" every day. I need to actually QUILT more though--in the last year, my quilt tops have piled up but I haven't finished as many; I need to change that. And I need to do more "serious quilting"--by that, I mean I need to actually plan out my quilting and mark my quilt ahead of time and not just wing it as I go. I guess I'm saying I need to put a little more thought into it and be more mindful--a term Harriet mentioned--of what I'm doing.
Tonight Harriet talked about the series of six Quilter's Academy books she's writing with her daughter. They are designed to offer tutorials/lessons similar to the progression of a course of college study, from freshman to Ph.D. The first four books, from freshman to senior year, are available through Amazon and the fifth will be out soon. I'm thinking about getting them for my Kindle; since they are "study books" rather than pattern books, I think they might be fine on the Kindle.
I already own two of Harriet's earlier books: From Fiber to Fabric: The Essential Guide to Quiltmaking Textiles, and Heirloom Machine Quilting. I bought the first one when she appeared at our guild about ten years ago, I think; and Amazon tells me I purchased the Heirloom Machine Quilting book on February 3, 2006--funny how it remembers much better than I do. I brought that book with me tonight and Harriet autographed it for me. Both books belong in any quilter's reference library, if the quilter wants to learn more about the details of quilting and textiles.
I really enjoyed the evening quite a bit. If you haven't had a chance to attend a Harriet Hargrave lecture yet, keep a watch for the next time she appears in your area. And check out her books--they are full of valuable information. Click HERE for a link to her Amazon page.