Nancy O’Keefe has taught arts and crafts classes for a long time. My mom and grandma started taking classes from her when she worked at a craft supply store in Jackson, Michigan in 1986 or 1987. They took painting classes, and if I am remembering correctly, even some stained glass classes. My brother and I even took a few painting classes from her. We were nearly equally excited to see her dogs, as Nancy has always had Great Danes….and, she has always been a night owl…
Once I started quilting, my mom and I decided to go to one of Nancy’s All Night Quilting Classes. Every year, Nancy picks a pattern that works well for beginners, but also will use a new technique or little extra that will challenge experienced quilters too. Everyone picks their own fabric and makes their own quilt – but they’re all that one pattern. Every year, a little after 7 p.m., we get together at the Jackson Sportsman’s Club and show off the quilts we finished from the year before. Unless, you’re my mom and I. Then, you admire others quilts, and maybe show off one from 2 or 3 years ago that you’ve finally finished. Anyway, Nancy takes the instructions (usually 1 or 2 pages) of this pattern and turns it into 5 pages of written instruction and 4 pages of drawings that will help you along the sewing process. The cool thing is that you can literally pick up these instructions years later and finish that quilt. I know because I’ve done it. Most of the time, with much more precision and ability than my 2 a.m. stitching from 2 or 3 years ago.
Mom and I have taken other people most years. Friends, family, my mother-in-law, even Holden went with us once (He was only 5 months old and he was SO good, even when he was awake!). But, year in and year out, I realize that I am not a night owl. Most years I go thinking, “I can make it to 7 a.m. this year. I can do it!” only to tell my 65 year old mother-in-law that I can’t keep my eyes open anymore and we have to pack it up and go home. I think in my entire life, I’ve only stayed up all night twice…once, that I can completely recall. I just don’t have it in me. This year, I planned the Mid-Michigan Breastfeeding Walk on the same day. To say I was exhausted when it was over was an understatement. Since I’m a die-hard procrastinator, much of the last minute details were finished in the wee hours of the morning before the walk. Then I was up early again to finish everything else I needed to do. So, mom and I agreed to go, get the pattern and head back home. We were bummed, but since Nancy provides such awesome instruction, we knew we’d still be able to do the quilt as well, if not better, than if we attempted it that night. I might have actually saved my own life or my mother’s as I’m sure we would’ve had a rotary cutter accident or stitched through a finger.
Feeling better about our decision to not try and get a lot done, we started musing about an afternoon/evening quilt class. This year Nancy had so many people sign up she thought she might need to have two classes. She ended up only having one, but it really made me think…maybe she’d have a 2nd class in the evening?!? After mentioning it to her and harassingly persistently e-mailing her how it could work out, she agreed it was worth thinking about. So, I figured I’d e-mail my entire contact list (which I still intend to do) and solicit people to sign up for this class (in hopes that she’ll be forced to have it). But, then, I thought what’s better than e-mail? A blog post! Surely, my crafty peeps will spread the word to anyone they know in Michigan who has a slightly crafty bone in their body!