Getting Crafty

It’s October and the temps are in the 80’s. So why, oh why would so many people have their attention turned to large, heavy quilts?  This week the American Quilt Society has its show in Des Moines at the Iowa Events Center. As far as volume goes, the AQS folks say this show has more quilts than any other. I couldn’t resist the spectacle.

There are thousands of gorgeous artwork quilts hanging on display. You can see lots of traditional styles, but so many modern patterns too. If bling is your thing, there is a series of quilts with gems and beads sewn into them. And a handful of the quilts more closely resemble landscapes than you’d ever guess. I was partial to one quilt honoring my favorite state (wink!).

AQS Show (18)AQS Show (20)AQS Show (22)

Despite the temps outside, while inside the show I so wanted to touch them and just snuggle under each one. But that was a big no-no. I did get to sit underneath one quilt destined for Cairo Egypt. My new friend Hosam is one of the Tentmakers of Cairo.  Hundreds of years ago the nomads that roamed the desert lived in tents. To spruce up their foldable homes, tentmakers started quilting their tent sides.  The tradition lives on today and the Quilt Show is featuring Hosam’s family’s work.

AQS Show (14)AQS Show (15)

Hosam’s hands moved so fast I couldn’t get a non-fuzzy shot of him sewing.  I on the other hand could only get 3 stitches completed in about 3 minutes.  And they were bad.

I don’t think I’ll be taking up quilting any time soon (not enough patience).  But I will pull out the family quilt my great, great grandmother made long before I was a twinkle in someone’s eye. It’s beautiful and passing my hand over the imperfect little stitches makes me feel connected to my family history here in Iowa. And Hosam helped me realize that just owning a quilt connects me to an ever greater, global tradition.

Go see the AQS Quilt show. Say Hi to Hosam, attend a class or demonstration and meet some great Iowa quilt shop owners.  If you can’t hit this show, there are tons of craft shows going on across the state this month.  Check em’ out!

-Jessica Lown

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