How writer Richard Russo's blue collar roots inform his writing.
Quilting Community Thrives In The Valley
In the 3 Dudes Quilt Shop in Ahwatukee, a group of about 15 quilters, all women, have gathered for their weekly “open sew.” Dude, Raymond Steeves, starts the morning off with a warm welcome.
Everyone’s working on their own project today. Some women are cutting fabric, others are planning out their quilt structure and some, like Sherry Mayesfski, are actually doing some sewing.
"I’m working on a 'triangles on a roll quilt' and it’s going to be in light and dark greens," she said.
These women are here today because they all love to quilt, but really it’s more than that. What keeps Mayesfski and others like Nedra Sorensen coming back each week is the people.
"You just make the best friends at these kinds of things," Sorensen said. "Quilters are the nicest people. And so it’s very rare to find a crabby quilter. You just make girlfriends fast."
Which is something Michaelann Stevens said she doesn’t take for granted. Stevens joined the group a few months ago after moving to the Valley from Washington state.
"I came in and they heard that I was brand brand new to the area, and Nedra says 'oh, girlfriend you just need to hang out with us' and I was like 'ok, I found my peeps,'" Stevens said.
Stevens is a self-described “quilting newbie,” but she said so far everyone has been supportive in showing her the ropes, both in navigating the city and her sewing machine.
"They’re really kind about how they tell me, 'um, maybe, try it this way,'" Stevens said.
She adds that the way you know you’ve really got it down is when you can speak the language.
"Like a fat quarter is not a fat half or a fat square," she explained.
A fat quarter is basically a quarter of a yard piece of fabric. But it doesn’t stop there, if you hang around quilters long enough, chances are you’ll also hear terms like "fussy cutting," "stitching in the ditch" and "applique."
But it’s more than just fun. The connections here really do run deep. These women tell each other about their families and what’s going on in their lives. They’re here for each other.
"It’s like, I call it my therapy," Sorensen said. "I tell my husband I could spend thousands of dollars on psychiatric bills or you could send me to 3 Dudes. He says 'I’ll just send you to 3 Dudes. Just keep quilting.'"
Just keep quilting — Directions Sorensen and the handful of other women at the open sew say they’ll gladly heed.