Making the transition to fall with a wedding and a quilt show.
When did you feel the shift into fall this year?
Was it the first 65 degree morning, when you had to dig around the closet for a sweater? Or when you realized it was dark at 8 p.m.? Or when the okra plants started to look droopy and it wasn’t because they were parched?
Fall has been creeping up on me this year. Avery’s birthday is in early September, and it never feels like fall when we’re celebrating his solar return, but by the end of September, I’ve undeniably started switching gears.
One hallmark of this transition — even though it’s still searingly hot in the afternoons right now and there’s (still) no rain in start — is that I start to think about quilting again.
The last weekend in September was the Austin Area Quilt Guild’s QuiltFest, which takes place every other year. I met up with my friend, Denise Gamino, another former Statesman writer whose byline you might remember
reading looking forward to all those years ago.
Denise and I worked in the features section together from 2008 to 2014, when she retired. She’s a freelancer now, too, so I ran into her at a recent editorial meeting for the Bluebonnet Electric Co-op magazine. We decided we had to get together and that the quilt show would be a perfect excuse.
Denise writes about her quilting adventures, sometimes, including that time a few years ago when she came upon a quilt that she’d finished (and had given away) for sale at a vintage shop in Smithville.
“As I looked closer, my own uneven hand stitching winked back,” she wrote about that moment of discovery back in 2016.
We met up on Friday at the Palmer Events Center to look for those winking, blinking, sinking, life-giving stitches.
We saw so many beautiful quilts, including this stunning hand-batik work called "Plenty to Go Around/Scarcity" from Kathy York, who is easily Austin’s most esteemed quilter. (Is this arguable? Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers in Bastrop is the only other person whose renown comes close to Kathy’s, I’m guessing.)
York writes of this two-sided piece: "A symbol of our own border, the work hints at a metaphor for success built from a racist system that rewards the lighter skinned fawns. The story is not complete without both sides.”
We also came upon an exhibit focused on influential figures in the African American community that was curated and created by quilters from San Antonio’s African American Quilt Circle.
It’s easy to feel alone when you’re quilting on your own, and I’m reminded of that every time I walk into a quilt show.
Quilt guilds started so many years ago to give people a sense of community around this hobby that, for the people who make these events happen, become a lifestyle.
I don’t have the kind of quilting ambition to make pieces like this Batman quilt, but I do enjoy the catharsis that comes from piecing together small little scraps to create something more than the sum of their parts.
These quilters know that, together, they can create something that is more than the sum of their parts.
Fall is quilting season for me, and going to quilt show felt like a way to warm up to — and perhaps cope with — the transition away from the long days of summer. Some questions to get you thinking about your own seasonal transition: How do you support yourself during these liminal times? What fall activities give you a sense of solace while the environment around you is changing so quickly?
Happy October! I’m finishing up this newsletter from the airport in St. Louis, where I’m heading back to Texas after a wedding in Kirksville, where my longest friend Bobby celebrated his marriage to his bride, Tiffany, and their toddler, whom I wrote about in the very early days of the Substack version of The Feminist Kitchen.
It was good to be with my Missouri family this weekend, but in some ways, it made me miss my ever-changing Austin family even more.
A week ago, I hosted a booth at the North Austin Good Neighbor Festival, where I represented our local Buy Nothing group.
Meeting all the people who live in and around the neighborhood was something I’d never done in this capacity. As a reporter, I would often attend these events to write about them. As a parent, I might bring my kids to participate. But it’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to engage as an ambassador of something.
To have a spiel. To swap business cards and think about creative ways to build a sense of community with strangers. To lean into change rather than coast through it.
I’m also proud of myself for taking advantage of being out in far West Austin a couple of days after the festival to stop by Commons Ford for a little rest and relaxation by Lake Austin. I hadn’t been to this city park for probably a decade, and I met some other self-employed folks who, I later found out, live about two blocks from me in North Austin.
It was one of those small moments of connection that I try to make sure I take time to appreciate. As Adrienne Maree Brown (and Octavia Butler and so many others) always says: What we pay attention to grows.
This is going to be a fast season with lots of moving parts — I have two media trips coming up, so look for stories from Lubbock and Hot Springs over the next few weeks — not to mention herb school for me and regular school for the boys and Frank.
Oh, and Day of the Dead.
Just when I need a little nudge to return to grief work, the world gives me one.
And lastly, my gratitude: I couldn’t do The Feminist Kitchen without you, dear friends, so thank you for your time and, if you’re a paid subscriber, your contribution to help cover the cost of my time to write. It’s an honor to publish a column each week about something that’s moving my heart. Your support makes that possible.
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