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Colleen Ankersmit is Mad About Quilting

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And thinks you should be, too!

Are you one of those people who can’t help being drawn by colorful hues, lured by luxurious texture, intoxicating prints? Or do you have to stop and fondle things that beg to be touched because they appear to be something other than “just fabric?” Do you collect fabric, but never use it? Buy quilting magazines and pour over the pages? Spend hours at quilt shows in awe of the beautiful patterns and fabric combinations, wishing you could do that? These are all symptoms of a serious Fiber Freak. But fear not! There is a cure—or rather, at least a treatment.

Quilt! Whether you haven’t sewn since middle-school home-ec class, or are an accomplished seamstress, quilting is a brand new age-old creative avenue for Fiber Freaks everywhere.

I bet you are one of those people who say, “Oh, I’m not ready for that yet.” Like quilting is something you don’t consider until you are “old.” Harrumph! Or—you don’t have time. Excuse me? Have a peak at my little day-timer and try that again. Oh—and I really love this one—I work too much and can’t make it to a class one evening a week! How about I don’t have the room—again, excuse me? I live in a very small space! Or, I’m waiting for the kids to be older, waiting for my career to settle down, for my parent’s health to improve, my house to be finished, my puppy to be trained. I have heard some hum-dinger excuses for not allowing yourself to crack open that hidden passion, to embrace the struggling Fiber Freak inside yourself and just do it! As my Mom always used to tell me, “You can’t learn any younger!”

Taking a class for any hobby is always a little intimidating at first. Especially if it is something you have always really enjoyed from the outside, because you have already convinced yourself you “can’t.” Well, let’s just put that aside for a minute, K? Of course you can! And you will either love it and be hooked, or hate me with your renewed passion for convincing you that this will be fun! LOL! I do have one former student (that I know of) who has not truly appreciated my tutelage and says she would rather “eat a bug” than quilt. But one out of how many students over five or six years isn’t too bad. And I don’t think she really counts as she was coerced into the class by her “friend.” But I digress…

There are so many different things to learn about quilting, that you can’t possibly learn it all in a lifetime - never mind a class—but a class is your best first choice. There are classes for beginners all through advanced and super-experienced quilting. There are project classes—which is usually a one-day fun and fast class that is designed so you actually leave THAT DAY with a finished item! (Those are pretty popular with us instant gratification kind of girls!) There are technique classes—so if you have already taken a beginner class, or have been quilting for years, there may be a certain technique you would like to learn—like Paper Piecing or Appliqué.

Something to keep in mind is that all teachers are different, and there isn’t a mandated text book on what to teach. As a result, you will learn different things from different teachers, and all of it is useful information. So don’t think that because you took a beginner’s class a few years ago that you don’t need or won’t benefit from another one now. (Personally, I think my class “Introduction to Quilting” is pretty thorough, and includes the book I wrote to go with it so you have all the notes and “how-to’s” for future reference.)

Another super side-benefit about taking a quilting class is that you get to meet new friends, who are all pretty much at the same level you are. So right from the beginning, you have others who know what you are going through and will make the same mistakes you will make—or make them first so you might avoid that one! In the end, you may have a new buddy to get together with to quilt. (I lovingly refer to this process as a “stitch-and-bitch” and it’s almost as therapeutic as the quilting, if less productive… I recommend serving it with wine!)

Almost all quilt shops and fabric stores offer quilting classes. And they are all very excited about spreading the habit —I mean hobby! If you are thinking that you might like to learn to quilt, some day, maybe, check out my website (www.packriverquilts.com) for upcoming classes I will be teaching. Take a look and let me know your excuse!

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