In spite of my initial attraction and adventures in quilting, I doubt I would have taken it up seriously had it not been for Jared.
Some of you “know” him. Jared not only is my second child, but also my business partner and your tech support. 🙂 (Like me, he’s camera shy… so let’s hope he doesn’t notice I’m posting his picture. It would be just like him to come in and take it down!)
By the early nineties, access to Internet technology had started to become more readily available here in Ecuador. In those early years, it was all about e-mail, which I used extensively for my work as a translator. It would take time (and some prodding), however, for me to join in on the adventure of what then was known as the World Wide Web. Naturally, being of a younger generation who grew up with computers, even as a kid Jared was always much more knowledgeable about the technology than I ever was. He kept telling me I really needed to learn to “navigate the Web,” but the concept was just too foreign for me initially.
One day in 1996, Jared decided enough was enough and set out to convince me I needed to broaden my horizons. He knew how my mind worked… I love to “research” things and look up information just because. He kept telling me I had an enormous encyclopedia at my fingertips that I wasn’t taking advantage of. To prove it, he asked me to think of any subject I might be interested in, and he would show me how to look up information related to it. Curiously, while we were talking, I happened to look up at a poster I had hanging on my office wall, of a quilt auction of the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association (it had been a gift from my sister-in-law). More to get Jared off my back than anything, I said to him: “Ok, show me something related to quilts.”
As the saying goes… the rest is history.
Quilting and learning to use Internet technology became two inseparable learning experiences for me. And the impact was profound. So much so, I can still remember the very first quilting website I ever visited: Betty Reynolds Quilting Page. I was fascinated with all the images of her quilts. And her list of bookmarks became the starting point for my browsing adventures on the World Wide Web. Quite unfortunately, this website has not been updated for years, and most of the links no longer work.
Another website that became my quilting Bible in those early quilting days was the World Wide Quilting Page. As I understand it, this probably was the very first quilting website ever, started in 1994. This website is no longer active, either, but quite fortunately the contents are still there. I still think this is a great starting point for beginner quilters. And today I discovered the bulletin board is still going, although now in the form of a blog.
The World Wide Web truly became my quilting teacher. Jared was right: I had the biggest quilting encyclopedia right at my fingertips. And I learned… and continue to learn. At that time I still didn’t have access to cutting mats, special rulers or cutting mats, but there was a lot of information available for hand stitchers like me. And I have to tell you, I was pretty proud the day I finished my first sampler quilt… “by the book.” 🙂
This little quilt quite certainly came about from discovering the wealth of patterns shared by so many generous quilters out there! And I am truly sorry to discover so many of them have discontinued their websites, but will always be grateful for their generosity in sharing their knowledge.
I am also very grateful for my unconventional learning experience. Under other circumstances, I possibly wouldn’t have dared attempt some of the challenging patterns I cut my teeth on. Although often a lonely quilter, I had the advantage of not having anyone sitting on my shoulder telling me I wasn’t quite ready for a given technique, or that I was doing it wrong. I had to wing it a lot… and that is a very freeing experience. Now that I design and teach myself, I find that if there is anything I would like to leave as a legacy, it is precisely that: “Be free and fly!!!!”