Okay, I would never say that I am a quilter. To me, that implies a certain level of expertise currently not found in my brain or fingers. I would, and do, say that I like learning how to quilt. I started learning years ago. My very first memory of actually quilting is sitting next to my mother with some other ladies in our stake who were working on a quilt to celebrate to opening of the Chicago, Illinois temple. My mom was a great and avid quilter and had taken us to the "bee" where she was to contribute to this special quilt. I remember picking up the needle and doing a couple of stitches. I really had no idea what I was doing; I was only nine years old. I seriously only put in a couple of stitches--two or three--and then stopped. It was harder than it looked! I still recall the horrible, private humiliation I suffered when a woman returned to the quilt after a short break and said, "Some of these stitches are just awful. I mean, look at these!" And she proceeded to rip out the sad stitches I had just put in. My feelings were hurt, but it's okay; I lived to quilt again!
About six years ago, my dear, dear friend Jill reintroduced me to quilting. She is a very patient woman with a mantra any student loves to hear: it's good enough. At first, I only made baby quilts and only with her assistance, but now I am comfortable enough to go solo if I so choose. Luckily, I really don't have to choose that because she has opened up her house twice a month for a "Quilt Night." We quilters-of- various-levels-of-expertise can lug our fabrics, sewing machines, rotary cutters, rulers, and mats to her house for hours of fun (sometimes too many hours). We help each other (although to be perfectly honest, Jill does 99% of the helping), learn together, cheer each other on, "ooh" and "ah" at each other's fabric choices and laugh. It's really wonderful. We all work on the same pattern at the same time, but make quilts of different sizes using fabrics of our own choosing.
This is my first "Quilt Night" quilt and it is unlike any other quilt I've made for two reasons; first, I kept this one for myself and second, I hand-quilted it. I was really reluctant to give hand-quilting a try since I already knew how speedy machine quilting can be. Jill had told me, "Trust me, Mendy. You'll love it," and she was right. It was so relaxing to sit and hand-quilt the layers together while I listened to a book on tape (multi-tasking at its finest). And my kids love it. The whole time I was working on it they couldn't wait for it to be completed. Now, they like to snuggle under it in our cool basement. They all want it to be theirs individually, but I say it belongs to the family.
I think my favorite thing about quilting in general is how you look at a pattern and say, "I like that one. I'm going to make that quilt." and then you go and choose fabrics that are more "you" than the ones in the picture. And you cut those big pieces of fabric down and then sew them next to other little pieces you've cut. And soon you have a new big piece of fabric that is more beautiful than all the other pieces were alone. It's a whole deconstruction/reconstruction thing where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And your quilt may or may not resemble the one in the picture that you originally liked, but that's okay; it's a great quilt. I just love that.