It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been on the needle for 33 years! Of course my needle only works when there’s thread and fabric with it, but still, my addiction is just as strong as it is for those illegal substances. And really, that’s what our quilting lives are all about–our addiction to our fabrics, threads and needles.
I started right after I married my hubby, Stephen. I traded in my credit cards for a new sewing machine, which he was convinced would turn into a footstool within a month. Instead, he had to replace the cheapo model he got for me when I wore it out within six months. I started by teaching myself how to make clothing–no classes, no mentors. And boy did it show! And then, quite by accident, I found a quilt pattern in a magazine and thought I could do that. And I did. Sorta. Mostly. (No classes, no mentors again.) The Beast still lives and travels with me to guild lectures where I release him from his cage so he can proudly share all of my quilting shortcomings.
But it was true love between me and quilting and I haven’t stopped since. Of course, as a self-taught quilter and sewists, learned the very hard way too many times to count. But I figure that makes me a much better teacher, because anything a student can mess up, I’ve already done myself, so I’m empathetic and nurturing about it. My classes are where we get to safely make mistakes because if we’re not making mistakes, we’re probably not being very creative, and what fun is that?
Somewhere along this journey of yardage I made a baby, quit my day job as a newspaper reporter, started working as a freelance writer and editor, changed diapers, kept sewing and then got the bright idea to write a book. And then another. And then three more after that. From there I started writing magazine articles and submitting quilt designs. And got published! (And yes, that’s as thrilling as you might imagine it to be!) I even won an award or two along the way (also as thrilling as you might imagine–maybe more so!).
Teaching and lecturing began working its way into my schedule and before I knew it I was actually making a living from what my husband believed would become a footstool. How about that!
In 2011, I was in the throes of being laid off from the magazine we worked for when my partner, Melissa Thompson Maher, and I launched our own magazine. Generation Q Magazine was a lifestyle magazine for today’s quilter and sewist, and over five wonderful years we produced 24 issues with our small team of equally addicted Q-bies.
Producing that magazine, being in the thick of All Things Quilt, working with my closest friends–it was all as amazing as it sounds. Still, we struggled with a changing industry, day jobs, family obligations, business issues, and many other challenges that chipped away at our morale, resources and serenity.
Then, in 2016, I discovered I was mortal. I was diagnosed with Stage 2b breast cancer. For the next two years, my loved ones and I survived and thrived our way through my six months of aggressive chemo, 10 surgeries (including a double mastectomy), followed by five years of hormone therapy. As I write this in July 2022, I am six years out from my original diagnosis, cancer-free and done with hormone blockers. I am happy, healthy and I and ever vigilant with my health.
So I survived my cancer. Generation Q Magazine did not. As the publisher, it was my responsibility to handle distribution and all business operations. Because we were a lean magazine, my partner and our staff all worked from our respective homes, all in different states. I had a day job (thank the gods as I had good insurance through it) and there were too many weeks when I couldn’t get out of bed, or when I landed in the hospital. There was no way I could continue with our beloved GenQ.
So we shuttered in 2017. And my heart is still broken for it. This is probably the first time I’ve even mentioned GenQ publicly since its closure.
The good news is that I’m still here.
Oh, and that baby I stayed home for? That’s Samantha and she’s now 21 and is engaged to be married to a wonderful man, Nic. She has her own machine, which is not a footstool either. When someone asks her what her mother does for living, she says, “Mama makes quilts.”