I like to travel and spend time in environments that are not strictly my own, home-wise, and I always get a little bit of that feeling whenever I go into a quilting store. These stores have always seemed populated by older, more wholesome women, typically of the type that disapprove of me, either for my outlook or my attitude or my personality or some intangible reason I’ve never quite grasped. I don’t mean to suggest that women a decade or more older than me are universally stuffy — far from it. My partner’s mother, for example, who has a couple of decades on me, came to visit us this week and kindly reminded me to clear the bedroom of sex toys before she moved her luggage in. This is a sense of humor I appreciate, but it’s not one I typically find in quilting stores, for some reason.

This is where it starts.
This is where it starts. Before you know it you’re buying yardage. Then its whole bolts.

My most recent social failure in a quilting store was when I told one of the ladies that I thought that charm packs were the gateway drug of textiles. She recoiled a little in horror, as if I’d just suggested that we stage an orgy in the discount yardage section, or asked for instructions on how to make a fleece vibrator cover.  I really didn’t think my statement was that transgressive, so I’ve been a touch hypervigilant about what I say in fabric stores since then.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised today to have my flannel cut by an older woman spinning a lengthy yarn about the time she shared a hot tub with  the members of Def Leppard.  She used to live in Dublin, she said, and the band bought a house there after Pyromania was released to do some recording. One of her friends became close with a member of the band’s management team, thus leading to the hot tub gig. Another woman and I stood there, enraptured. She was a slight-looking grandmotherly type with a soft British accent. “I got some cracking pictures,” she concluded.

I bet. How big is that discount yardage section over there? Any fleece in it?

A friend of mine has a theory that all the flower children are now of a certain age, and that explains my encounter this afternoon. I’m not sure about that — there seems to be a noticeable lack of former hippies in the quilting sector, but I’ll take it where I can get it.

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