Joan Abshire




Joan Abshire


Joan Abshire quilts as a hobby in Massachusetts. For this interview, she brought a quilt entitled "My Canadian Home," which she found the pattern for in a quilting magazine. Abshire was a quilter 20 years prior, but took several years off to pursue other hobbies, including genealogy which led her back to quilting. She shares her quilts with her son for his feedback, and her sisters in Framingham, Massachusetts also quilt.




Melanie Grear


Joan Abshire


Julie Henderson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Iris Karp


Marlborough, Massachusetts


Julie Henderson


**This transcript was created by QSOS volunteers and was reviewed and, in some cases, edited by the interviewee. It may not exactly match the audio recording. For citations and interview quotations, please refer to the audio-recorded interview.** Julie Henderson (JH): Hi, this is Julie Henderson interviewing Joan Abshire on January 12, 2002. We're at a Quilter's Garden in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Welcome, Joan.

Joan Abshire (JA): Thank you.

JH: You've brought a quilt here. Does it have a name?

JA: Yes, this is called My Canadian Home. I think it's supposed to represent Canada. There's a log cabin of sorts in the middle. There's flying geese going around the perimeter of the center medallion. These are log cabin squares and maple leaf squares.

JH: That's great.

JA: Of course, the maple leaf is the symbol of Canada. It was intriguing to me because I did my genealogy a few years ago and my mother was French Canadian. I think anybody walking around that's French Canadian is related to me in some way or another. [laughter. A bystander says, 'Oh we're related, Joan. I bet we are.'] I guarantee it. [laughter.] So this meant something to me simply because it had a Canadian background. It was fun to do.

JH: Was that recent research that you did?

JA: No, that was 1993. I think is when I did most of the research on my family history. That was before I got into--well, in between quilts. I had two sessions with quilts--one about twenty years ago, and one that I've been doing for the last two and a half years. In between I've done other things and researching my family history was one of them. That consumed me for one year. It was a lot of fun. Actually, I think it was more consuming than the quilting is, even. I do this practically twenty-four hours a day, so you know. That will give you some idea. [laughter.] Genealogy research is totally, totally fascinating. I just love it. But after a while, after doing mine, then I did a couple of my cousins and then a friend. After a while the interest in it just petered out and I went on to other things. But the interest in it is not dead, because every now and then something will come up and I feel this little tug to go researching again. But then I think of all the work and the time that's involved and I just let it slide. I'll stick to my quilting now.

JH: Were there other quilts that came out of, that were inspired by that at all?

JA: No, no. I saw this in a magazine and I loved it and the name of it intrigued me, My Canadian Home. It's like one of my ancestors lived here.

JH: So, you saw this pattern in a magazine.

JA: Yes, in a quilting magazine.

JH: Did you change it at all, for yourself?

JA: I added a few things to it. This up here--there was smoke coming out of the chimney, but it was like strands going around. I didn't care for that. I put in the butterfly, the eagle, the bear, the flowers. This here was an extra piece that I put in. It was supposed to look like flagstone but it ended up looking like a stone wall. See the grass growing in between? That was supposed to be like a flagstone walk but of course you'd have to be looking down on it. You're looking at it from another perspective so that makes it look like a stone wall--but that's okay, because it looked okay there. I put a detail on the door, and these little flowers here I added in. And the bushes, the bushes were mine. So it was fairly plain, and in the original the colors were much different. They used all autumn colors through all of this part up to here, and in here they had shades of beige, which matched the sky. The sky was almost a solid beige. So this one is really more involved, more elaborate you might say, than the original was. But I had this piece of sky material that I loved and I wanted to use the blue. And then I had these fabrics here with the green grass and the green trees that I wanted to use. That kind of sent me off with the blue and green to start with. These fabrics here were ones that were left over from an owl quilt I had done for my son and these were fabrics that I had used for the feathers on the owls. But I thought, well I'll use some of those fabrics that are left over for the flying geese, because it's another bird, right? So that's what I used around here. Then I wanted to tie the colors together more so I ended up with the blue up here and then I went back to the green. But of course on the maple leafs, I wanted the maple leaf colors, I didn't want to stick with green. I got my son's help on this, all the way along. Every time I reached a certain point I'd call him and you know, say, 'What do you think?' He kept giving me ideas, and 'I don't like this,' or 'I don't like that.' I think what I was doing was looking for confirmation that what I was doing was correct, because every time he told me something it was something I had thought of already and thought, 'well this is okay'--but it really wasn't. So every time I'd change anything, it was just an improvement. This was really his thoughts and my work. So that's makes it more important to me than just something that I did on my own.

JH: Does he help you a lot with your quilts?

JA: No, but I always go to him and get his opinion because he's the one person I can count on to tell me exactly what he thinks. He'll say, 'You ask me what I think, and that's what I'm going to tell you.' I say, that's fine I want an honest answer. He's very good about that; he'll give me an honest answer every time. If he doesn't like it he'll says so right out. That's what I want. If I'm asking your opinion, I want to know what you really think, don't try to make me feel good--if you don't like something say so. That's what he did. He pointed out everything and I followed his suggestions and it came out fine.

JH: Now, how did you do the bear and the butterfly? They look like threads.

JA: These here are appliqués that are already made. I found these in Framingham [Massachusetts.]. I found the bear first. I saw the bear and I thought he was about the right size for the quilt--I was looking for something else. I said, 'Oh, that bear would look neat on that quilt – they live in Canada, right?' Then I found the eagle, and he was the right size. The butterfly is a little large, but it's over here, isolated, and it doesn't really look that much out of proportion to the rest of the stuff. I just thought they added a lot to it. This was so much fun doing this.

JH: Oh, I'll bet.

JA: Oh, it was--it was a ball. [laughter.] I kept trying to think of other things to put into it to make it look better.

[tape stops for a moment and is turned back on.]

JH: So, you said you had been quilting and then you followed genealogy.

JA: About twenty or so years ago I did quilting. I made maybe a dozen or so over a period of a few years. I've always liked quilts, always loved quilts. But there was so much work involved, especially with all the hand quilting. At that point in time I didn't know about even-feed feet, that you had to use one to do quilting by the machine. It took forever and because the hand quilting took so long I dropped it after a while. I got tired of all that hand quilting. It was just too long a process. I wanted something that I do faster. So I moved on to other things. Then two and a half years ago my nephew was getting married. I asked my sister what I could bring for a wedding present. I wanted to do an afghan--I hand knit afghans also. My sister said 'no,' she was going to make an afghan, why didn't I do a quilt? I said, 'okay.' But I hadn't done any for a while. So I took a class over at Assabet [Vocational High School in Marlborough, Massachetts that offers evening adult classes.] and I found out about rotary cutting and strip piecing and chain stitching and machine quilting with an even-feed foot. After I made the first one I said, 'Oh, my goodness, this is so much faster and so much better.' My sister in Oregon, who I had gone to visit, was interested in quilts at the same time. She was just beginning also. We kind of fed each other's interest. She went on to other things, but I've stuck with the quilts. That's all I've done for the last two and a half years. Every spare minute that I have, I'm in there sewing or thinking about it or working on another pattern or something. It's just totally satisfying to me. It really is. I just love it.

JH: Do you think you're going to keep doing it?

JA: I would say that except my history says no. I've been through so many craft projects from macramé to stained class to calligraphy to the genealogy. I do something; I get really enthused about it. I do it for three or four years, maybe only a couple of years and then I get tired of it and move on to something else. Except that I've always gone back to crocheting and knitting. That's something that's always been there in the background in between other things. The sewing comes naturally to me. My mother was a dressmaker and she started me sewing when I was twelve. So the quilt thing--I mean quilting is just sewing, basically, right? It was very easy for me to get into this. It was just the hand quilting that threw me off the first time, because it took so long. It was awkward for me. It wasn't fun, that part. I do these0--my hobbies for fun. When they're not fun anymore, you either move on or find something else. But this is still fun. How long it will last is anybody's guess.

JH: Did your mother make quilts at all?

JA: No. She did make one, at the same period when I was making them twenty years ago. I think I kind of got her interested a little bit so she sent away for a quilt kit and she put that together. She gave that to my sister up in Maine. She had one that I had made. I gave her the first one that I had done. She had that until the day she died. She had that on her bed. When I think back, it wasn't really that great a quilt. It was just that I had made it and given it to her. Of course, that gave it meaning rather than the actual job that I had done. I look at some of the quilts that I made twenty years ago - my nephew has one and I looked at it, oh my goodness that's terrible. Not that the work was terrible, but the combination of colors, the fabrics. I look at it now and I just shudder. But your tastes change over the years, too.

JH: Yeah--do you see--

JA: You see things differently.

JH: Yeah--things you picked up during your break from quilting, even if it wasn't related to quilting, do you see it coming through in your quilts now? There's things in general that you learned?

JA: Not really. I've changed more since I started quilting again. I'm looking around more. I was very conservative when I first started; everything was like calico and flowered patterns. I didn't branch out very much. Especially since I've been coming to Mary's shop and I see all the different types of things she has here, I'm trying to open my mind a little more to different types and styles of quilts that I wouldn't have even thought of a few years ago. That makes it more interesting for me too, because now I look back at some of the other ones that I've done and they look kind of plain in comparison to the ones that I'm doing now. Although there are a few back in the early days that I did that I still like.

JH: Did this one take a long time? It's really big.

JA: It took quite a while--but I didn't care how long it took me, because I was really having fun. It got kind of tiresome when I got over here [points to area of quilt.] because this was repetitive--especially when I got to do the quilting, and it was just going around and around over and over again. But at that point, you're so far along that you have enough momentum left to carry you through. I don't have unfinished quilts stacked in a closet. Well, I do have one, but normally when I start something I keep going until it's done.

JH: So, when you got started again after your break you said you took a class over at Assabet--

JA: I took a class at Assabet and that got me going a little bit, and then I went to visit my sister in Oregon and we hit all the quilt shops out there. She was just starting to get interested in quilting also. Like I said, she did a couple and then she found a job she really liked and she puts everything into that, the way that I put everything into the quilting. It's a job that she can do at home so that's good for her. If she had to go out to work maybe she would have kept on with the quilting too. She will get back to the quilting at some point. She's still very interested. I send her pictures of the ones I do and she's always interested in what I'm doing. But for the time being she's involved with this other work, so she's not doing the quilting. My sister up in Maine now is starting to do quilts. She's never done very much machine sewing. She has done only a little. She's starting to get the bug now and do more quilting.

JH: Were you inspired when you saw this pattern in the magazine?

JA: Oh yeah--but I had the pattern for almost a year before I put it together, thinking this was going to be a lot of work. I have to have an impetus to get started on something, and the time just wasn't right for me to do it yet. Then I came across the pattern and I said 'I should try this, I think I can do this now'. I hadn't done flying geese before. Mostly what I had done was squares. I hadn't done that much with triangles and I thought the flying geese were going to be really hard. Well, they're not. [laughter.] A lot of things look hard and then when you get right into it, it turns out that they're really not difficult. I knew I wanted this to be special and I wasn't sure how I was going to do the colors. It took me a while to collect the materials that would look natural. It had to be about a year that I had the pattern before I finally got around to doing it. That was last fall, or I guess it was December when I finished it. I really enjoyed working on this center part especially. This is one that my son says, 'You're not going to sell this or give it away, are you?' Well I guess I'm not, so this is on my couch.

JH: Do you sell quilts?

JA: Yes I do. I've made quite a few. That one in the bag over there is number fifty-one.

JH: Wow, that's a lot.

JA: That's when I was working full time. But I've recently retired, at the end of last year. I found that I'm really not doing more quilting now than I was before, actually. Before, every spare minute that I had - it seemed like there was pressure on to do as much quilting as I could because I knew the next morning I was going to have to go back to work again and spend another eight hours at work. But now the pressure isn't there. I find that I thought I was going to be doing a lot more quilting but I'm really not, as long as I get my quota in, I'm happy. [laughter.] I forget where I was going with this.

JH: I had asked before it you sold a lot of quilts.

JA: Oh, yes. I have a cousin that wanted one for each of her daughters and granddaughters, so that was about thirteen quilts there that I sold her. I have sold a few other than that at work. I sing in a choir at church and a couple people there have bought them. They're starting to stack up now. I've taken care of my cousin. She doesn't have any more daughters or granddaughters to give them to. [laughter.] I would like to find some place to sell a few. I've got about seven or eight now that don't have a home. But it's nice to have a great collection because if a wedding or a graduation or anniversary or something like that comes up you just pick one out of the pile and you have a nice gift. And it makes a nice gift--people appreciate that. I've two more nieces or nephews coming up in April so that will keep me busy for a little bit.

JH: Can you tell what your source of inspiration is usually with quilts?

JA: What makes me want to do a particular quilt?

JH: Yes.

JA: Just something that appeals to me, something that speaks to me in that quilt - either the color, or maybe a certain material. I'll find a material that I like and buy it and I'll look around for a quilt pattern that I can use that material in. That doesn't always work. There was one I did last summer. I had this material that I thought was just gorgeous. I found other materials that match it that were really good. I found a pattern that I liked and I put it together and it just didn't do a thing for me. That's one of the ones I sold at work. This girl at work bought it and she loved it. She said, 'Oh this is the perfect colors for my room.' So she bought it and she put it in her bedroom and she keeps telling me how much she likes it, and how nice it looks and I say wonderful. But I was just glad to get rid of it, because I didn't want it around because I was unhappy with the results that I had. There wasn't anything wrong with it; it just didn't come out the way I had expected. You never know. Almost always I make a quilt, when I get through I look at it--'Maybe I should have used a different pattern, a different color, maybe like on the border if I used this fabric here instead of there it would look better.' There's only a few that I could look at and say that I wouldn't change anything. This is one of them. The one in the bag is one of them. There's been a couple others that I've looked at and said, 'This is good. I wouldn't change anything here.' But most of them, when I look at them I think that if I had the chance to do them over I might be able to do a better arrangement with the colors and the patterns. It keeps you trying.

JH: Learning.

JA: Right. But they surprise you sometimes. You think everything is going to come out perfect and you get it all done and you look at it and it's not perfect. [laughter.] There was one I had done and it was yellows and greens. It was an Irish chain. I was experimenting with my own pattern. I had done this before. The colors worked very nice together and I got it all together and a couple of people told me how much they loved it and I hated it totally. My sister has it now. I tell her, 'When I come and visit, I want you to hide this because I don't want to look at it.' She loves it; she has it on her couch. Everybody's taste is different. What one person thinks is beautiful somebody else thinks is ugly.

JH: What was your job that you retired from?

JA: I did graphics on the computer with AutoCAD. I worked for a company that makes fire alarm annunciators. I don't know if you know what they are. They're usually at the entrance to a building. The ones that I worked on were graphic ones. Sometimes they're tabular units and it's just text. But the ones I did were mostly graphic ones and it would show like a layout of the building. They had lights behind it in areas. If there's a problem, the light comes on where the problem is. Well, I did the layouts for the building. So, everything that I did was different, because of course every building is different. It was a neat job. There were times that I got frustrated if the material that I had to work with wasn't good. Although in recent years that had improved a lot. A lot of the drawings are emailed to us and I was able to work right over that. I didn't have some wrinkled up drawing someone had scribbled all over; trying to trace that and make it look good. I did that for twenty-two years.

JH: Do you see any connection between mapping out that sort of thing visually and then mapping out a quilt?

JA: No, I don't think so. But what I have done--now, I have a perfectly good quilt program at home, which I've never been able to make myself sit down and learn. That's one of my projects for retirement is to learn this quilt program. What I usually end up doing is going into AutoCAD, which is what I used for so long at work, and drawing out my quilt patterns there, because I know what I'm doing there and it's very easy for me. Although I'm sure if I learned the quilt program that would be even easier because that gives you all the measurements, it will print out the pattern for you, estimate the yardage that you need, and so forth which would be very handy instead of having to do all that in my head, or with pencil and paper. I don't think that other than being able to use AutoCAD what I did at work didn't really help with doing the quilts.

JH: So, you have quilters in your family also?

JA: Yeah, my two sisters. The one in Oregon has always done a lot of sewing; she's done a lot of that for her children when they were growing up. She's done a lot of machine sewing and she is very, very good. She has made a few quilts. I know that when this job is done, that she'll get back to the quilts. The one in Maine, like I said, she's just starting to do quilts. She did one last year; it came out very, very nice. She does a pretty good job too. We don't always agree on what color would look good but pretty much we do. She starting to get the bug now and I think she'll really start taking off, especially now--she's using the machine more. She never even wanted a sewing machine before. Anything she had to do, she would do it by hand.

JH: How about your mother or grandmother?

JA: No, there were no quilts in my family that I'm aware of. My mother did a lot of sewing. When she was fourteen, she was working in the shoe shop and when they needed clothes her father would go out and buy material and buy patterns and bring it home and say, 'Here, go to it.' And they were on their own, no teacher or anything, they just had to figure out on their own how to do it. I remember she worked for a tailor for a while. That's when I was in grammar school. After my father died she started full time doing dressmaking. She did that up until she was in her eighties. She was still doing dressmaking--and a very, very good dressmaker. She could fit anything. She was wonderful at knowing just where to take a tuck or whatever to make something look nice on somebody. She was very good at it and she taught me. Any skill that I have is due to her. My grandmother, her mother had died when she was just a child so I never knew my mother's mother. But my father's mother--I was very young when she died. She did hand sewing and crocheting and knitting and so forth but there were no quilts in my family that I'm aware of, on either side. But I've always loved them. I used to make afghans and all the time I was making afghans I really liked quilts better.

JH: When you look at quilts can you tell what makes a great quilt great?

JA: I've been thinking about that for two weeks. The first thing I see when I look at a quilt is the color. I had a hard time at first when I started up quilting again, trying to get past the color and look at the pattern and the work in it. If the colors aren't pleasing then I'm turned off right away. The next thing I look at is the pattern, the design. The next thing I look at is the quilting, whether it's hand or machine quilted; and then the workmanship. All of those things are important, but I think to be a really great quilt you need something else, something that's going to speak to your heart, that's going to hit you inside and say, "Wow, that's really neat." Maybe all those other things don't really have to be there, for it to be great for you as long as it speaks to you, says something to you, then that makes it great. Of course, that's totally subjective. What looks great to me wouldn't look great to you, possibly. Maybe it would.

JH: That's something you found--

JA: Right, like I said in the beginning it was very hard for me to get past the colors. People today use much brighter, more vivid, what to me is clashing colors. When I go to the quilts shows I was just zipping along the aisles because I couldn't find anything I liked because the colors were so strange to me. Then I got beyond that point and started looking for pattern and design and the handiwork. I saw one that was an Amish quilt that was hand quilted. It was just a small wall hanging. The quilting on it was absolutely exquisite. I took a picture of it even though I hated the colors because the workmanship was so beautiful. Every stitch was right in place. You'd think it was done by machine and I know it was done by hand. Just beautiful, beautiful. I could appreciate that. I think I've learned a little bit because I've learned to look beyond the first glance at it to examine it. Also, sometimes when you read the little stories that go along with them--there was one that I had seen and it didn't do anything for me until I read the story. This was one that this girl had done after her brother died. This was supposed to be representative of his life. I'm sure to her that was a great quilt, because it meant something to her, it spoke to her. She was pouring her feelings out into this quilt that made me respect it more. It still wasn't something I would have wanted on my couch, but I could appreciate what she had put into it, what was the story behind it. Quilting, I would say, has opened up my mind a little bit. I'm trying to open it more, but it's old, it's slow. [laughter.]

JH: Besides the colors, do you see a lot of difference in the quilting world twenty years ago and the quilting world today?

JA: Well, aside from the colors, I think designs are different. I think twenty years ago they more followed the old traditional patterns than they do now. Of course now, you've got the rotary cutting and the strip piecing and so forth. That makes it so much easier to do. I would say, yes, I do see a difference in what I was doing twenty years ago and what's out there now. It's much more exciting now. There's more variety. They still keep the traditional patterns but they go on and experiment with other fabrics and designs. All you have to do is go to one of the quilt shows and just see everything, everything.

JH: Do you go to a lot of quilt shows?

JA: Not a lot. I go to about maybe six a year, depending on what I'm doing. I'll probably go to more this year since I'm retired than I did last year when I was kind of budgeting-- it seems like I was always budgeting my time, trying to fit everything in. But now I've got the time.

JH: Do you stick around here for those?

JA: Pretty much. I don't go out of state normally, except for the quilters' gathering I went to last year, that was up in Nashua [New Hampshire.] but that's not that far so that's still within a couple of hours drive. Also, we went up to the Vermont quilt festival last year. But I don't think I would go up there again, that was an awfully long ride. It was a nice show, but a very, very long ride. Actually, some of the ones around here are really very good. There's one over in Stow I've been to two or three times now and I thought the quilts over there were great. It's a small show, but I was really impressed with the quilts that they had--very, very nice. Very nice quality and I liked most of the designs as well. I stay pretty much in this Eastern Massachusetts area.

JH: You don't belong to a guild?

JA: No.

JH: Have you ever belonged to a guild?

JA: No, I haven't. I've thought about it, but never took the step to actually do anything about it.

JH: Do you get most of your information and input from your sisters and your son and - ?

JA: From magazines and I've taken a few classes here, which are very helpful. The classes are really great. You get to see what everyone else is doing and that's what makes me think that a guild probably would be a good idea because there's an interchange of ideas and you might not think of something that somebody else has come up with. But the classes are good that I've been to. I just haven't gotten around to taking the step to do that – I don't know if want to commit myself to certain--I don't know if they meet once a month, or once a week. I think it's probably once a month, though. They're probably something I should look into.

JH: Do you have an idea of what sort of quilt you're going to make next?

JA: Well, I'd like to try foundation piecing. I saw one--I never really was crazy about it, because it seemed like they were always trying to make stuff that was like things that aren't really designed. Foundation piecing to me should be something that looks kind of geometric. You shouldn't be trying to make a rose with foundation piecing, because you've got all straight lines, you can't do curves. At least not to my knowledge, not being an expert on it and not really having started it. But from what I've read and what I've seen it's all straight lines: triangles, squares, and whatever. When you try to make a rose in foundation piecing it's not going to work because a rose is very rounded, or something like that. Then I came across a pattern in a book, a magazine that I get. I forget what the pattern was, but it was really beautiful, and it turned out it was foundation piecing. But it was very small, so that's one of the things I put into my little AutoCAD program and made it bigger. I tried a little piece, and I said, oh, this is very neat. I'm not sure if that's going to be my next project or not. I'm working on a stack and whack right now that I should have done in another week or so. I have a block of month and I've got about five or six months done on and there's three or four more to do that I had put to one side to do something else. I really should go back and finish that because when I have something there that's unfinished that I started it kind of weighs on me. So I really should go back and finish that. Oh and there's a class I'm taking here that starts in February. The buckwheat star over there in the corner [points.]--I'm really intrigued by that. So I want to do that. I don't know if I'll have time to do something else in between or not. I'll finish this stack and whack and then I'll see where I'm at. Then I have one of the quilts done for my niece or nephew that's coming in March but I need one more for the one coming in April so I may just do a baby quilt in between. I'm not sure. I'll decide when I get the stack and whack done. I've done a lot of those. Those are fascinating. Do you know what they are?

JH: No, I'm not familiar with that.

JA: It's a six-pointed star like that, a Lemoyne star. What they do is they take the material, pieces of material that are all cut exactly the same, they match the patterns and stack up eight of them. Then you cut strips and then you cut the star pieces. Since you've stacked all these pieces up one on top of the other, when you cut it out all those pieces are exactly the same. So you put them all around in a star shape like that and it looks like a kaleidoscope almost, except it's not a true kaleidoscope because my son told me it's a mirror image. This is not a mirror image but they go around in circles like this. Depending on where your cut comes, you get different designs on each one. They're fascinating; this just totally fascinates me. You never know when you buy the material what it's going to end up looking like when you put it together. For one thing, you're not sure where your cuts are going to come, unless you fussy-cut it. I did that on one, I had this little pizza man and it was really cute. I wanted the pizza man in the center of each one of the points of the star but that would waste a lot of material, so I only did one. All the others, it was just stack and whack, wherever it comes, that's where it comes. You get some surprising results sometimes.

JH: That's really neat.

JA: They're a lot of fun. I've done about six of those.

JH: So it sounds like you talk to your son a lot about your quilting.

JA: Well I do. I show them all to him. Usually I wait till I'm done. This is the only one really that I got his advice all the way along on because I wasn't sure. Like the bear, now I put the bear up here. He said, "No, the bear doesn't look good there. You should move it down in front of the wall." I did and right away it was a hundred percent better. Other little things, like where I had these positioned. He said, 'No,"--I had them up here further, because it was green around it. This was before I had made these extra squares. In fact I have about--I'm not sure how many extra squares I have left over. I have a whole other set of these squares left over--[JH: Oh, wow.] which I didn't use, because I had put blue in for the background instead of the greens and he didn't like that. After I looked at it, I said, 'you know, he's right'. The green fits in much better than the blue did. The blue made them stand out too much and they really stuck out. You looked at it and that's what you saw was this.

JH: Is he interested in quilting at all himself?

JA: No. [JH: No.] He's interested in computers. [laughter.] He knows what he likes and he's not afraid to tell me. [JH: That's great.] When he sees something that's off like on this one – this one I really did, I kept picking his brain because I was uncertain myself. I won't be afraid to ask him again, because all the advice he gave me was right on, and when I made the change I was happy with it. It was more work, but I ended up with something that I like much better than I would have if I hadn't taken his advice.

JH: Actually we're getting pretty close to the end there. Is there anything that you've been thinking about that I haven't touched on?

JA: Not that I can think of. I can't think of anything else. I used that quilt and tear stuff on these little hearts on the corners. That was the first time I had used that. It's a paper that you draw your design on, it's like tissue paper. Then you pin it and you trace and you sew over the design and you tear the paper away.

JH: Oh, wow.

JA: It's a real neat way of marking an intricate design. This was isn't that intricate, I probably could have done this with a marking pencil but I have a hard time with marking pencils because my eyes are not really all that good anymore. I'm getting cataracts now and I like a nice dark mark and of course if you put a too dark a mark on there it's not going to wash out afterwards. So that paper works out very well for me. So after I used this I tried it on the next quilt. There's another one that isn't done that I did it on the border and I got a little fancier with. That worked out very well. It's a neat way of doing it.

JH: So it sounds like you usually try out new things with each quilt.

JA: I do, I like to experiment.

JH: Great. Well, thank you for talking to me today.

JA: Oh, thank you.

JH: That's concluding the interview with Joan Abshire in Marlborough. This is Julie Henderson it's January 12th, 2002. Thanks a lot.

JA: Oh you're welcome.



“Joan Abshire,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 21, 2024,