In the quilting industry if you say the word “Houston” everyone knows what you’re talking about. It’s a marathon annual event at the end of October stretching until the first week of November at the George R Brown Convention Center (known as “The GRB” among some in the shipping industry) that covers both wholesale and retail shows. Quilt shop owners, magazine editors, bloggers, fabric and notions companies, sewing machine manufacturers and 62,000 quilters from around the world gather annually in Houston to see new products, new fabric and learn new techniques every year. Those of us who have been attending this event for over a decade instantly recognize the inside of the convention center when we see photos of it.
So it was with mixed emotions that I spotted this photo of Houstonians displaced by the flooding of Harvey seated, some wrapped in towels, inside the GRB. You may have sat in those chairs before yourself. But chances are that you sat in them while having fun in a class or because your legs were tired from walking the show. You may have sat in those chairs eating lunch or waiting to meet a friend. It all looks so different now seeing those people, and sadly many more who are likely to come later in the week looking for shelter, enduring such hardship in a place many of us associate with fun. The director of FEMA said this morning that it will take years to rebuild Houston after the damage wrought by the brutal storm with the sweet name.
Although it’s only Sunday, the meteorologists are already forecasting that Houston will likely be inundated with another two feet of rain by Friday. It’s hard for those of us who have spent so much time in this city to imagine how it will fare the coming week and how much suffering its people will endure in the coming years as a result of Harvey. I for one will be looking at those chairs differently from now on and I hope the quilting industry will figure out an initiative to donate to the Red Cross or other organizations that will be supporting those whose lives have been affected by this storm.
As I was looking as pictures of the flooding, one of my favorite lines from the Bible in Hebrews came to mind. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” I will uncharacteristically suggest that you not make quilts to donate because what these people really need is money for food and rebuilding their homes. Donating things instead of money can create problems in a crisis like this, so monetary donations are the most useful right now. If you feel really moved to make a quilt, perhaps make a raffle quilt to auction in your community and donate the proceeds to the Red Cross or local groups who will be serving those affected.
Prayers to you Houston. May the forecast improve, the relief be quick and monetary donations be generous.
[photo: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle]
February 8 marks the Hari Kuyo Buddhist and Shinto Festival in Japan that began 400 years ago. Hari Kuyo refers to the festival that celebrates broken needles and sewing. Typically women dress in kimono and take their broken pins and needles to their local temple where they place them in a block of tofu. Many believe that while sewing life’s sorrows can creep into the needles. Burying the old needles in tofu softens them and allows the sorrows to be transported to the gods and away from the sewist. Hari Kuyo is also an opportunity to pray for better sewing skills.
I love the idea of showing gratitude for our tools and for acknowledging that our tools develop an emotional patina through extended use. For those of us who aren’t able to attend the Hari Kuyo Festival, how about taking a moment to give thanks for the tools that help us create and make beautiful things? And while you’re at it, this is probably a good time to change your rotary cutter blade and get rid of those bent pins and broken needles that have served you well.
Like you, I have watched Sewing with Nancy over the years and admired Nancy Zieman’s skills and down-to-earth personality. We met Nancy several years ago and have found her to be a warm and generous person as well. I drove Bill crazy while reading Seams Unlikely, Nancy’s autobiography. I kept saying, “You’re never going to believe this!” followed by reading aloud the part of the book that surprised me. It is an extraordinarily inspiring read. Your heart will break for her at times and you’ll find yourself gasping, “Oh my goodness…” a lot. Mostly you will get a glimpse of how a woman in small-town Wisconsin started an iconic TV show and overcame hurdle after hurdle after hurdle all while giving birth, adopting a child and managing a growing business.
So when Nancy emailed last spring asking if we would be guests on Sewing with Nancy, we were thrilled and decided to publish Magic Inch Quilts in conjunction with our appearance on the show. Sewing with Nancy is a well-oiled machine staffed with highly competent people who have worked with Nancy for decades. We talked through the content of the episodes and planned out with Nancy the step-outs and sequence of the projects. She’s quick, decisive and very thorough because she knows exactly what the viewer needs to see to understand the concept without wasting a minute.
Sewing with Nancy airs at different times across North America. While some watched our episodes in December, others told me they just saw one just last weekend. If you missed them, head over to NancyZieman.com where you’ll be able to see both episodes and find a treasure trove of All Things Nancy. If you’d like to win a copy of the DVD of both episodes, leave a comment below telling us what you’ve learned from Nancy over the years. We’ll randomly draw a winner on Tuesday, February 7. [Note: given that the DVD is formatted for US DVD players, we will only ship the DVD to a US address. Thanks for your understanding.]