Quilting can be a grounding exercise in the Zoom age

Small Towns


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When you say yes to something new, you don’t always know what you’re getting into. And, a new adventure can often be the best medicine.

When Krista Dittman, my good friend and Center for Rural Affairs board president, and I said yes to a joint quilt project in 2019, we learned so much about ourselves and each other. We learned about resiliency, about getting in over our heads, and digging out. We picked up many new skills, and embraced techniques and challenges we may have resisted on our own. We shared time, space, minor disasters, and about a hundred pictures and tutorials. And, as we successfully broke through, and completed our big project right before the deadline (i.e. our friends’ wedding day), we knew we were just getting started.

Fast forward 18 months, to when the pandemic started closing down the country. We were part of the majority of people stuck at home with only ourselves and our anxiety to keep us company, and we both eagerly joined an online community quilting bee alongside a few dozen others from Nebraska and beyond.

This quilting bee was introduced in a blog last month, which can be found here.

In our second audio installment, you can hear more about our individual experiences with our duo quilting project, which took place in person, as well as the larger group effort, which takes place both online and (alone) in person. We discuss how quilts can be a metaphor for life, how this “COVID quilt” is being put together as events happen around us, and is guided by many hands and minds, without its full course mapped out from the beginning.

That’s how life goes. You can plan every detail in advance, but there will be times you’ll find yourself needing to get pretty scrappy. And, embracing spontaneity and trying new things is good for you. My mental health has much appreciated a new endeavor and a shove out of stagnation.

The quilting club has given all of us something to look forward to, has helped us pivot, brought new people and sources of creativity and motivation into our lives, and straight up pushed us to use our hands to make something tangible. Let’s face it, the Zoom age can take its toll, and the quilting club has been a great blend of using an online interface and actively getting down to the craft table and the post office.

You don’t always know where you’ll end up, or what you’ll make. But, you can make the most of it by saying yes to something new, something creative, and something that brings us together even when we’re physically apart. And, if things go okay, you may even end up with a cuddly quilt full of memories.

Feature photos: Erin and Krista working on their joint quilt project in pre-COVID times.