This is Ed. He is the new sock monkey I purchased at a serendipitous stop at a church rummage sale.
On Saturday I drove up to Lowell, Massachusetts, to visit my career alma mater the The New England Quilt Museum. It was with mixed emotions – I miss the place terribly but the looong commute, the price of gas and the combined toll it took on my body and pocketbook made the decision for me. As I pulled off I-93 and began the storybook-beautiful drive down Rte. 133 I remembered Saturday mornings were prime-time for yard sales all along the route but I could never stop and poke around (as I would be late for work) so for five long years I resisted the temptation.
That was all behind me as I cruised along and spied a lovely church lawn cluttered with tables and merchandise and people swarming about. The first table I walked up to was managed by a quilter who was selling off her book collection and had some fantastic books all selling for a mere $5 a pop. I love it when karma happens. I managed to restrict myself to an armful and wandered to the next table where I found ED. Ed had to come home with me. I’ve wanted a sock monkey doll fah-evah (local Gloucester dialect) and he was adorable. I didn’t name him, he just told me his name when I tucked him in to the passenger seat among my new/old books. It happens that way with me, I swear.
Ed and I continued on to the museum for a wonderful reunion with co-workers and quilts. I was completely blown away by the Fenway Park Centennial show – Rosemary Baun is a tremendously talented quilter. Even if you’re not a die-hard Red Sox fan (and I’m not) it was well worth a visit. The imagination and creativity were rockin’! The quilts up in the permanent collection room(s) were breathtaking. It was all good. What made it better was the special program presented by Shelly Zegart who created and produced the DVD documentary Why Quilts Matter – History, Art and Politics . I’ve been a big fan and supporter of this important and alternately hysterically funny and sobering work for ages and it pleased me no end to see a room full of people become enlightened and engaged too. Bonus – I finally got to meet Shelly and she is a peach, as was her husband, sister and brother-in-law. (Apparently they have a family requirement to be bright, intelligent and maintain a rippin’ sense of humor.) I’m sure their website was inundated with people wanting to watch segments online and learn more about the program. Guild reps in attendance perked right up when, after seeing segment samples, they realized the programing value inherent in the production. A win-win and bang for the buck. What’s not to love?
On the drive home Ed and I talked about the responsibility quilters have to support each other in their work. It applies to supporting any of the arts – it doesn’t just fall out of the sky, people. The expression, “Money is like manure - if you leave it in a pile it rots, you have to spread it around to do any good” has been attributed to many people but it doesn’t lessen the truth or importance of the statement. We all want the quilting culture and industry to thrive. Ed says that while few of us have Medici money to be patrons we can buy a ticket or a book, throw a few bucks into a membership (even if it is far away and we can’t visit often), support research and programing and – GET A LOAD OF THIS – benefit ourselves from what we have fertilized. Sometimes this means paying a few dollars more for a book or a pattern than we would if we could find it for on, say, Amazon. To be truthful, Amazon doesn’t need my money and doesn’t support my community. Besides, after they tack on inflated shipping and “handling” fees the difference really. isn’t. that. much. I’d rather buy it directly from the quilter, the author, the designer – you get my drift. The quilting industry is a THREE AND A HALF BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR BUSINESS. That is not a typo. Ladies and gentlemen of quilt nation that is a LOT of manure. Look at where you spread it very carefully. Pay attention to where leave it. Spread it in worthy places but most important of all: SPREAD IT. I guarantee by doing so not only the scholarship, books, patterns, fabric and RESPECT for your most beloved art will bloom and grow and thrive, but YOU will bloom and grow and thrive as a quilter, quilt artist, historian, academic…..