Common threads

Photo by Charity Banks.

By Kristen Banks

It is such a delight to gather together with like minded people who share a common passion or hobby with one another. I’ve always thought one of the best things about quilting is what the Dutch like to call gezellig, which is pronounced ‘heh-SELL-ick,’ and is a word that has no true English translation but embodies friendship and the cozy feelings of togetherness.

How wonderful it is to just be together in the same place, doing the same thing, and loving every minute of it. Whether we’re chatting away, laughing until our sides hurt, or working quietly side by side I can find no better example of gezellig than a room filled with quilters.

One of the greatest benefits of coming together is the encouragement we find. It’s not that we aren’t independent, and that we couldn’t make do on our own, but there is just something so reassuring about sharing ideas, thoughts, or even our problems with someone who totally ‘gets it.’ Whether it’s finding a solution to a challenging situation, gaining helpful insights on a new subject, or just sharing in the experience of being together practicing our common interest it’s comforting to know we are with people who truly understand us.

It’s the feeling that we aren’t alone in this world. This feeling gives us a sense of support and unity that bolsters our confidence, and encourages us to keep tyring and growing. And it also gives us a more positive outlook on life in general.

Another wonderful product of this togetherness is the amazing work that gets turned out. I’ve seen many beautiful and innovative quilts that started out as an idea from one quilter’s mind, and was quickly elevated into something truly fantastic by the combined talents and ideas of the group.

It’s always exciting when someone brings in a handful of fabric swatches or a pattern that they are contemplating making. There is almost an electric energy that fills the air as all of those combined creative juices start flowing. Someone will make a suggestion, then another idea is thrown out. Then one after another each person contributes a little bit of their strengths and creativity until before you know it we’ve built something truly fantastic. With a few materials, a little bit of creativity, and the combined skills and experience of many different artisans there’s little that can’t be done.

And that folks, is how a masterpiece is made. I know my own work and skill set has greatly increased over the years, as I benefitted from this type of gathering. And I always say many of my best quilts should be credited as much to others as they are to myself.

Now you’d think with so many different personalities assembled in one place that it would be almost impossible to find harmony in this type of setting. You’d probably expect to hear a lot of arguing, complaining, and back-biting. And while there is always that rare exception because everyone has a bad day now and then, for the most part, all of my group quilting experiences have been extremely positive. Which I really think speaks to the love, devotion and respect quilters have for one another and their craft.

Sitting here just now, and contemplating all of these things, I was thinking how wonderful it would be if this country was run by quilters. Maybe then we could all learn to get along, show some respect, and put more effort into helping others than furthering our own self. Or better still, we could all just do that anyway, because we all have many things in common.

We are all humans, living in the same space, with the same needs, wants and desires. We want to be loved, cared for, and not belittled or disrespected. We’ve all been hurt before, and we all know how scary it is to feel alone. And, instead of separating out all of the things that make us different, maybe we could bind each other together with the thread of friendship and love, just like we’d make a quilt out of patches and squares, rectangles and strips, that are all so different but can somehow come together to make something beautiful.

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  1. Sherry Boyd says:

    You totally hit the nail on the head Kristin. Love your column.