Best Quilt Friends

This past Sunday I headed once again for northwest Arkansas. I was so excited to be going to see one of my dearest friends, Teddy Pruett, and her wonderful husband, Bill. They are on a big journey cross-country to visit the Rockies (one of Teddy’s favorite places on the whole Earth), and just happened to be coming through my area. Teddy wanted to see the “American Made” exhibit at Crystal Bridges, so I thought that was a great place for us to meet. Yes, I had seen the exhibit before, but I was so tickled to be able to see it with Teddy!

For those of you who don’t know, one of the best things about being in the quilt world is the friends you make. Teddy and I have been friends for a long, long time. When I was living in Massachusetts, way back when, I was very active on something called the Quilt History List. I had decided that I wanted to know more about antique quilts, and even had a good inkling that I wanted to become an appraiser, and at that time, QHL was the place to be. I think QHL still exists, but it is not the thriving community it was then. So many of my quilt friends today came out of that list.

When I learned that we were moving back to Florida at the end of 2001, I chatted with Teddy about her being my mentor in the appraiser certification process (AQS). She was so unbelievably gracious about it, allowing me to tag along to gazillions of shows for the next couple of years. I can’t imagine that anyone could have been more generous with their time and knowledge. She taught me not only the mechanics of being an appraiser, but the real ins and outs of it too, like how to manage things when there was a crowd around the table, how to deal with people in awkward situations, and how to work hard at it.

Best Quilt Friends
The quilt Teddy worked on shortly after I met her. This is “Cook is a Four Letter Word.” Read more about it here

In no time at all, we were fast friends. Not only did I value all that she knew, but I absolutely treasured her artistic nature, her wit (ohmygosh, that wit!), and her genuine kindness. We worked well together and, yes, we worked hard, but we had fun. We became not just quilt buddies but friends. The fact that quilts were included made it even better. We travelled a lot of miles over Florida roads from then on, working this show and that, visiting each other, and going to whatever events we could.

Fast forward to today. I am living in Missouri, Teddy is still in Florida. I am still appraising every chance I get, and she has, after twenty-odd years of schlepping from show to show and working her tail off, retired from it. Our opportunities to see each other now are rare. We were together last September at the AQSG seminar in Indianapolis, but neither of us were going this year, and that is always such a tough place to really connect with people. It is a busy, busy weekend!

Best Quilt Friends
At the AQSG icebreaker tea, Indianapolis, September 2015

So, yeah, I definitely wanted to see her. And see her (and Bill) I did. It was a wonderful day. It was fun to see the quilts again, and talk about how many times we had both seen those same things in print. It is completely different to see them up close. As Teddy said, it is the difference between looking at a postcard of the Grand Canyon, and standing on its ledge.

Best Quilt Friends
Teddy (a little squinty-eyed)  in front of the quilt made by Faith Ringgold, commissioned by Oprah Winfrey for Maya Angelou

I am afraid we probably bored Bill to death, but he was so gracious about it. He was willing to just hang out while we chattered on about anything and everything. I think he was secretly just enjoying watching people, but what a good sport. He is definitely an unsung hero!

When we finished seeing the museum, Teddy and Bill took me to dinner. We went to Bentonville’s town square (which is a busy place!), and we got to sit outside at Tusk and Trotter. It was a gloriously beautiful evening and the food was terrific.

Best Quilt Friends
Bill and Teddy sitting outside Tusk and Trotter

After dinner, I hated to see them go, but it was time. They hit the trail and are, at last check, on their way from Oklahoma toward Colorado. I have no doubt that their journey will be full of grand adventures!

If you’ve not made it to Crystal Bridges yet, go. Soon. The exhibit closes 19 September. And if you can go with one of your best quilt friends, I have a good idea you will have a grand day.

I’ll be back soon to show you what I saw before Teddy and Bill got there!

  • Would you just look at y’all all dolled up in those hats! Lord, how I do love hats. Y’all are beautiful, these quilts are beautiful, and this story of friendship is beautiful.

    • Lori East

      Oh, thank you, Jeanne! We had such a fun time. For the icebreaker, the host organization actually rented hats for us to borrow so we didn’t have to pack (and smoosh) our headwear. And yes, the friendship is a true treasure to me.