Shoot for the Moon #3 (Please leave comments)

Expansion?

After my small success teaching at The Quilt Block and making a few patterns I decided to venture to another quilt shop.  That had limited or as I can recall no success. There a ton of aspiring quilters who self publish a pattern or two and hope to become the next Alex Anderson or Elenore Burns. It did put a damper on my fleeting thoughts of making a home based business. Meanwhile at home I am spending most of my time keeping up our home and raising three boys. I was quite involved in their early education by being Room Mom for as many of their Elementary Classrooms as I could volunteer for. Why stop there? I was heavily involved in their swim teams and any other sport they ventured into. I would always volunteer any graphic services that were needed. I would and still do make all tee shirt art, program art, do bulletin boards etc. for all their activities. I also LOVE to bake. I would often drop by gourmet deserts to the teachers and the school office.  Yes – I was still making small baby quilts and then I headed up several Painted Pottery projects for Silent Auctions that raised money for the PTA. I slowed down on the class teaching as I was quite discouraged when I was basically blown off by a few other quilt shops.Obviously my skin was not very thick when it came to doing business in the real world.

Quilt Guilds

During my continuing self imposed  education I got introduced to the concept of “quilt guilds”.  Oh my! A full club of mostly women who were passionate about fabric art and quilting. I joined Faithful Circle Quilters in Columbia MD and made time to go to the weekly meetings at a local church hall every Thursday. I started getting exposed to all types of quilting styles and got a background on what quilters want and like. I showed a few ladies my stocking pattern and they were extremely supportive and encouraging. Hmmm – maybe I would venture back to that place in my mind about thinking of making my passion my business.

So I figured if one guild was good a few more would be great. I joined Friendship Star of Gaithersburgh. They have monthly speakers that came from all parts of the United States and some from abroad. Oh – the wheels started rolling seeing how these people sold patterns and books and just about anything else they could acquire that related to their particular techniques and style. I was starting to learn that guilds have personalities. This guild was more focused on presenting and supporting quilting on a National basis. That was great. I learned so much from seeing so many different speakers and taking classes with National teachers.This guild introduced me to the concept of “Challenges” – Hmmm. . . very interesting. I started entering the challenges and I started winning. That was the beginning of my intense interest in making quilts and entering them into competitions.

The third guild I joined was another Columbia Based guild, Milltown Quilters. My wonderful quilt teacher, Pat Brousil, was a member of this guild. Again, another guild profile. This guild had a limit of 100 members and was a bit more formal in overall structure than the other two guilds. This guild impressed me with the level of craftsmanship of the overall group. These ladies generally were very good technicians, not to say there were not good craftsmen in the other group – it just seemed that this group as a whole were very advanced. Every guild can offer different experiences and focuses.

All three guilds focused on traditional quilting. That was fine as I was still in my “Moda”, “Thimbleberries” mode. I was exposed to a few quilters that were working outside the box.

Flowers

I noticed a recurrent theme of flowers. Quilters loved flowers. I decided to draw a few flowers and make  small wall hangings to keep the project fast but interesting. I designed a coreopsis, a sweet pea and I wanted to design a rose. I settled on a dog rose that had many fewer petals. I made these for gifts for my family and friends. I would bring them to guild and got a favorable response and again that question came up…Do you have a pattern for these? Hmm.. should I take another risk and ad a few flowers to my meager pattern line? OK – I gave it a shot. I designed twelve flowers. I know twelve is alot! But I did not want to look like one of those “One Pattern Wonder” quilt designers. I figured if I had 12 that would be a “line” of flowers. I had a blast making them. I learned a lot about what translates well to fabric. Poppies with broad petals worked well, where as lilacs and hydrangeas have too many little flowers to recreate accurately without having quilters wanting to take a contract out on my life if I patterned hundreds of tiny buds! As I completed one flower after another the guild members got more and more excited. Soon a few local quilt shops heard about my flowers and started approaching me! Another glimpse of hope!

The Death-mobile

The death-mobile is my code name for my husbands Harley Davidson. It earned this name when on Memorial Day in 2003 he went on a cross country adventure with a few of his white collar hog fans. They were doing the male bonding thing on their way to a big Harley Event in New Mexico. Apparently when the executive white collar bikers arrived at the gathering it was a bit rougher than they had anticipated! LOL – They had no tattoos, they were the only sober ones and did not have a biker babe hanging off the back of their hogs. All was well until Monday morning I got a call from Gary’s co-worker in Tulsa OK.  “Debra, Gary has had a little accident” was the first words I heard Monday, Memorial Day in 2003.

Gary had been traveling all day in the heat from NM to Tulsa in one clip. He was exiting a highway and hit a patch of gravel which slammed his 700 pound bike onto the pavement. The full  impact was on his shoulder. He was received at the ER as “Oh another stupid Motorcycle rider – aka organ donor”. They really wanted him to go home. He insisted on an x-ray. With a punctured lung, a broken clavicle, and twelve compound fractures of his ribs and too many hairline fractures to count, they decided maybe he should spend the night after all! I called my parents to stay with the boys and I flew to Tulsa. He was in very bad shape. He was terribly uncomfortable and the focus was on getting the lung re-inflated and drained of blood and fluid. 8 days in the hospital was trying at best. He could not fly in an airplane because of the pressure created in the airplane cabin at flying altitude. So we had to rent a car and drive. I drove from OK to MD – it took three days because we had to make frequent stops to rest as well as I started having a few problems of my own. I had been having fevers all week while being bedside to Gary in the hospital. I did not say anything as I was certainly not the focus during that situation. All week and all the drive home I was inhaling Tylenol and Motrin in an effort to keep the fevers manageable.  We got home and it was a long 6 months until Gary’s ribs really healed entirely.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water…..

We got home and we rearranged our life to acom0date Gary’s injuries and slowly life returned to normal.

Back to my flowers and quilting.  I had positive feedback from guild members and from a few shop owners prior to the accident. I entertained the idea once again to try to make a few bucks to support my hobby. It seemed safe to give the teaching and pattern making a second look. I returned to being a mom, wife, quilter and designer.

It was late one summer evening when I was cleaning the backyard from a Birthday party that I had given for my oldest son. All my boys were born in winter so we would postpone their parties until summer when they could take advantage of our pool as the main focus of the party. The boys had gone upstairs with all the gifts and left over cupcakes.  I was picking up the last traces of Pinata tissue paper from the yard when I collapsed on the lawn. This was in July of 2003.

What is going on?

More to come…

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