As a new, rather young, quilter stepping into the quilting world, I did not set out to “sell patterns” or “teach classes.” I set out to create and feel sane in this hectic and often negative world. I set out to fill a void in my life after loosing pottery, running and lifting. I felt happy with my own work and progress, and that was as far as I let my brain and my heart go…until I met this lady named Joyce. I am trying to remember where I first met her, but I am pretty certain it was a traditional guild meeting. When I got my long arm, she invited me to a long arm group, which I thought was pretty cool to be invited to. She introduced me to the term, “quilting on rails.” I still get a kick out of that.

Even though I don’t remember exact timelines, there are things about Joyce that remain with me in my quilting DNA, but first let me tell you a little about her. She has been quilting for ‘forever’ and she owns a long arm quilting business. She does amazing work. She is a trained quilt judge. She belongs to a LOT of guilds. She organizes the long arm group in SC. She knows a LOT of stuff about quilting and a lot of quilters. And she decided for some reason to “pay attention” to me.

So what I remember about her and how it connects to my quilting DNA?

I purchased my long arm reluctantly. I liked being the paper instead of the pencil, but my Tarlov Cysts prefer the pencil position. Hearing the term, “quilting on rails,” was a funny little glimpse of joy to that process.

I told her I was working on a huge queen size quilt for a local craft/art show competition and that I was nervous about it being my FIRST quilt on the long arm. She replied, “Practice with purpose.” And I knew from her that she meant it with every ounce of her being. If I put something important on those “rails” I would quilt it like it was important. I did. And I won first place.

I once wrote a blog post about being a quilt show virgin. She shared it and it “went viral for my standards”…BUT more importantly, I will never forget that in her share she wrote, “And y’all, she’s good!” WAIT!?!?! WHAT!?!?! I reread that statement a couple times to make sure I had it right in my head. That was a huge complement coming from someone with her experience and talent.

All along the way, she continues to share my work, encourage me to enter quilts in shows and answer my questions about quilting. She is always real and upfront with me, which is how I role, so I appreciate it.

Somewhere along the way, she became my quilting mentor…and advocate…and friend.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough…she went even farther. She emailed me out of the blue one night and told me to submit my Painted Cow as a class for the Quilters of SC Retreat. So yes, if you read my blog, then I mentioned her in my last post, The Painted Cow Class #1 – Quilters of SC Pieceable Retreat. I did submit, and it was accepted. I thought she was crazy, but I missed teaching pottery so much, I honestly jumped at the chance to teach again. As I understand it now, it wasn’t something the retreat was used to…it was a new thing…so she and they took a chance on this whimsical newbie.

You can read about the class in that last post, but outside of class, she was still mentoring and advocating. She was a BYOP (Bring your own project) participant, so she was hold up in a classroom downstairs sewing her heart out with her sister. One night during the retreat, I went down to look through the other rooms to see what folks where sewing. She and a couple others sewing together processed the retreat with me. What to keep. What to update for “next time.” Overwhelming. Then she marched me over to some ladies across the room to introduce me. She wanted to tell them about my bag making and other work I do. Always promoting me…

I in no way deserve it, or asked for it, or expect it…so what gives?

What gives is making new quilters.

While quilt shops are closing and the crafting landscape is changing, someone took the time and spent the energy to encourage me. To make me feel “smart” and “talented.” Someone took the time to teach me. Share with me.

She took INTEREST in me!

She has had a significant impact on my confidence and “quilting career.” She helped make me a new quilter. And she doesn’t just do it for me. And she is not the only one.

She also understands that “my” type of quilting is not the same as “her type of quilting.” Her work and my work, they are different. They have different styles and techniques. But that didn’t matter to her.

What mattered is helping to foster my gifts.

What mattered was encouraging me, and for that I am forever grateful. And I fully intend to pay it forward!

Making a life that soars, means encouraging others, teaching others and fostering joy in what they create. It means recognizing growth instead of perfection. I certainly don’t get it right all the time. I miss opportunities. I say the wrong things, but I am going to vow to try. Vow to encourage and teach and foster quilting joy in others.

My thanks to her…and all the other quilting mentors out there…

Who mentors you? Who do you mentor? Share this post with those folks.

Tell us about them in the comments below.


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