Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Cathy Parker, as she shares with us her journey as a quilter, quilt shop owner, and finally a designer of super cute Redwork patterns. Cathy’s offering a special promotion to all Quilting Gallery friends on her web site too.
How exciting to be asked to write my story! My name is Cathy Parker and I am a Quilter. If that sounds like a confession, and it is, I do not intend to excuse it. I am a very proud Quilter!!! My life has been full, happy and very blessed, ever since I learned to Quilt. My Grandmother was a Quilter, my mother was not. A familiar story to a lot of Quilters.
After my four boys were grown, I worked at a fabric store that gave Quilting lessons. Marge Puckett & Gail Giberson, authors of one of the first basic Quilting books, “Primarily Patchwork”, were my first teachers. “Quilting Newsletter” was new and the only Quilt magazine at the time, and it was black & white. There wasn’t a very large selection of cotton fabric available for Quilting, so a lot of my early quilts were cotton/poly. Awful! But I was hooked. I had caught the “Incurable Disease”.
When my husband retired (the first time), we moved to a small town and I opened my own Quilt shop. My shop was called the “Hemet Valley Quilting Bee”. We had many well known teachers, like Blanche Young, and my employees were so talented and so enthusiastic, they taught many of the classes, too. Besides fabric, patterns, and all the Quilt-related items needed in a Quilt shop, we also sold new and antique Quilts.
We started the first Quilt Guild in our classroom. This Guild, “Valley Quilters”, is now in its 30th year, with over 130 members to date. There is a second guild in town, now, “Maze Stone Quilters”, with almost that many members. I started the “Valley Quilt Show” in San Jacinto, California, which is now well know all over Southern California, before the Guild was really off the ground. After two years of mostly doing it with just my employees and myself, I handed the Quilt Show over to the Guild to run. I have spoken about Quilting to other Quilt Guilds, at community organizations, and I have had booths at many other guild shows, national and local.
It was during the years at the shop that I decided to make a friendship quilt of my employees. I took my inspiration from one of my Grandmother’s quilts. But instead of children, I designed each to be one of my employees. Barbara is Quilting, Janet is making the doll she taught, Carrie is doing candlewicking, etc. Each salesgirl and teacher had a block of her own. I traced them and gave them to them to embroider. When they returned them, I finished the quilt and I named it “The Quilters”. This quilt was so popular at the shop, that I designed two more, “Little Girls” & “Little Boys”.
After ten years I reluctantly closed the shop. It was very hard. I had loved every minute of it. My husband got a new job and I worked in the office with him. When he retired from that job, after 8 years, we bought a fifth wheel and traveled all over the country for 10 years. While traveling and going to Quilt shops along the way, I remembered the embroidery patterns I had made at the shop. Redwork was just becoming popular, so I did them again in Redwork. One of my sons was a printer. He printed the patterns and I sold them to shops as we traveled. I designed more as we went, until I had 20 to 30 patterns. I got booths at Quilt shows like Paducah and Houston, and expanded my line. I started a web site and a blog.
We stopped traveling and settled down again. My Redwork business, Quilting Bee Designs, has done well, and expanded, until now I have 44 Redwork patterns. I still teach. I still make Quilts. Grandma would be proud.
I have four sons, all married, six grandchildren, three are married, and three beautiful great-grandchildren. Not one Quilter in the bunch! Maybe …someday….
For Quilting Gallery friends only, if you put in the comment section of the order form on my site, that you read this letter on the Quilting Gallery Blog, I will send you one free pattern when you order two patterns.
Have a wonderful day !