Sunday, November 18, 2007

Deloa Jones

So where to start, lets break with tradition and start at the end. Tomorrow I will finish my longarm training for now and say bye for now to two ladies who have inspired me and encouraged me massively over the last few days. I can't believe how much I have got out of these lessons and I am so grateful to Jax for arranging it. I am really going to miss being around other longarmers and drawing up new (to me at least) designs. I will be looking forward to the next time we can do it.

OK so some background perhaps. Some time ago (really quite a long time) some woman sent out an email about getting some teacher over from America. I knew there was a lot I had to learn about longarming so I signed up for a couple of classes, it was pricey enough that I wasn't going to do them all but cheap enough to take a gamble. At that point I had no idea who either of them was (I really am terrible at names) but it sounded interesting enough to take a chance on. I choose two classes on borders and sashing as I find those especially uninspiring, and thought I might add the feathers class if it had spaces nearer the time.

Over the intervening months I got to talk to Jax a few times and started to put some details on what was happening. As I have one of the smaller frames I arranged to lend my machine for the classes to use. I got some idea of all the juggling required to pull off an event like this and I came to appreciate that Jax is a very organized and reliable kind of person, just as well given I had said I would lend my machine. I still had no real idea where it was happening or who this teacher was. I should add this is entirely down to me failing to take in the information, I know it was a t a longarmers studio, what more did I need to know, and if the teachers name hadn't leaped out at me the first time it wasn't likely to afterwards.

Monday this week I delivered my machine. That was scary, until I got there, it really has had a holiday. A custom built well heated studio with lots of space and a dog to guard it. If anything it is probably better off than here, I hope it will still work for me when I bring it home, we all know that post holiday feeling. The real surprise came on Friday when I went for my first class. Longarm quilters are amazingly friendly and welcoming. I was very nervous of quilting in a classroom setting, I am not keen on being watched, but somehow with these people it was OK. Everyone was learning and supporting everyone else, how much would children learn if we could have this environment for them?

Deloa is a wonderful teacher too. On Friday she really had her work cut out. There was a big group and we kept getting distracted or getting ahead of her. Each time she would gently pull us back into line and get us under control. She was amazingly patient when I had a complete blank on how to do one design. I was getting very frustrated, and I am quite sure I was not being a good pupil, but she persevered and eventually I got it again. Deloa is one of those teachers who will keep rephrasing something until she hits the right way for you. She is also a dancer so can speak the rhythm for you which I found very helpful. I also found that when I got a design right it felt much like getting dance steps right. It flows and has a wonderful feel to it. I could use this as a way to judge if I has got it right.

It was fascinating to watch all the different variations people came up with of the designs, be they intentional variations of not. By the end of the day you could start to see patterns in how people changed the design, thinking about it, they put their own rhythms onto the dance of quilting. Having finished one lesson I really regretted not taking the rest of them I didn't feel I needed more all over and block designs, but having seen how many border and sashing designs we learned I wish I had.

Friday night I stayed in Newbury (yup that is where Jax is, I knew I would figure it out eventually) and to make sure I didn't get lost I was escorted to my hotel and then taken to a bookshop with Deloa. What a treat, browsing books with two people with similar interests, what could be better. I have to admit that a trip to the bookshop is my favourite Friday night out anyway, but this one was special, and of course there were different books in this one as well. Jax really does go above and beyond the call of duty, she invited me back for dinner as I was on my own in an unfamiliar town. I am sure n her position I would have been desperate to get some time on my own after having so many guests for so many days, but not Jax. The best I could offer in return was some free graphics software and a quick lesson on scaling images. It was a fun and enlightening evening.

Saturday was part two of borders and sashings, and had lots of new people for me to meet. Equally charming and helpful. I think Saturdays class was better behaved but less keen to stick to the designs we were being shown. Each design was modified to by each of us to suit us, sometimes deliberately and sometimes just by being drawn by another hand. Sorry Deloa, but I think I learned almost as much from watching everyone else as from the teaching itself. Something I did notice on both days is that Deloa is the sort of teacher who answers questions even when the answer is in one of her other classes. I like that in any teacher but I think it is especially important when the teacher has come a long way and there is no way for the student to take the other class. Personally I find it a lot easier to spend money with people who are generous so things like this are very important to me.

So after two days very successful training I headed home for a break before Mondays course on Thread Play, where I found a shipment of books had arrived. I skimmed through them then noticed one was by a Deloa. Odd I would have thought that was quite an unusual name, but maybe not, then I turned it over, and who do you suppose was looking back at me from the cover? Yup it's the same Deloa Jones. How strange is that? I really had no idea this was one and the same person, but I will probably remember now. I guess I should take it with me tomorrow and see if I can persuade her to sign it for me.

I am really hoping that Jax and Deloa will team up again to bring more training to the UK. I would understand entirely why they might decide not to, it must be a lot of work, but It's been great and I would love to think it would happen again. They have done wonders for my confidence and understanding of quilting, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.


Feather on a Wire said...

Please, please, we want photos of what you did!

Diana Wilson said...

I couldn't agree with you more about Deloa. She is a peach! I have taken every class she has offered and have both of her books. She is a wonderful teacher. I'm so happy you had that experience! Best of luck to you and happy quilting!

Ferret said...

As soon as the machine comes home I will load up a test piece and get playing. Then I can photograph it and share it with you.

You're right you do want to see it :)

Jeanne Turner McBrayer said...

You made me laugh out loud with the line about your machine not wanting to work when it comes home-that "post-holiday feeling!"

I have always enjoyed my longarm classes and the inspiration from the instructors and other students. Glad you had a good experience!

Nellie's Needles said...

Thanks for sharing this successful classroom experience. I had thought your machine quilting was wonderfully accomplished already. I can't wait to see what you come up now.

Jeri said...

sounds like you've had a very rewarding experience. I took some longarm classes at Houston last year and it made all the difference in the world. Isn't it great when the idea and technique comes together for you?