Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quilting and Teaching Don't Mix in Equal Parts, but....

When we moved from Washington, DC, to Missouri, I created a sewing area (for the first time)in the basement and was fortunate enough to have my handy husband around to create a large cutting surface for all of my projects. Even so, I had only small windows of time that were not dedicated to teaching or my return to finishing my masters. Missouri is where I made my first t-shirt classes with the help of my school district's after-school (non-professional development- stress relieving )workshops. That brief encounter with sharing quilting experiences was the beginning of looking for others to share my budding interest. BUT, I had so many other things get in the way: finishing my masters in Middle Level Math Education at the University of Northern Iowa(with one semester's worth of Monday night drives from St. Louis to Keokuk, IA), 911, and making another move to New Orleans.

Quite honestly, the only quilt store I visited during these two moves was when I was in Iowa trying to avoid working on assignments for class during my summer school stay. I also spent quite a bit of time that probably could have been used for studying to research the history of quilting. Because of my growing interest in quilting, I did use my increasing knowledge of quilting and geometry to do a major presentation for one of my graduate math classes. Everyone enjoyed the challenge of fitting the block pieces together. Much to the delight of his wife, my professor gave in and went out to buy a quilt that his wife had been eyeing for several years. He said he finally understood why handcrafted quilts are worth the big bucks.

Once my degree was accomplished, I really did start using quilting as a stress reliever. At one point I was so frustrated with a situation at school that I actually took a mental health weekend to make a "crazy" quilt. I am not talking a work of art with all the beautiful stitching, etc, but rather the cutting up of many bits and pieces to create something new. I found that working in a quiet space where I deconstructed and then reformed the fabric into a quilt seemed to help me gain perspective on so many things. Afterwards, I was back at school and fully engaged again. My heart and head had come to the understanding that life is like a quilt - You need different pieces, people, and opinions to make the whole thing work. As I said the quilt was not a thing of beauty and should probably not even be shared, but I want everyone to understand that this so called hobby was much cheaper to do than to go out and find a new job. I love working with kids and teaching math, but quilting brings out a different side of me. (The seeds of a new adventure were beginning to form.)

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