7623 Miles to a New Quilting Friend
I made a new quilting friend recently! I traveled 7623 miles to find her.
You may know that my daughter and her family live in Hong Kong, where they teach at Hong Kong International School. Because people always ask me why: they’re doing it for adventure. And what’s great is that it has turned into an adventure for me as well.
Which is how I met Lisa Busby. On the first day of my last visit to Hong Kong, I went on a field trip with my first-grade grandson Duncan. It was an outdoor expedition in a pretty area called Tai Tam Country Park.
Our assignment was to find a variety of items in a scavenger hunt, which made it easy and fun for the adults and the students to interact. Above, Duncan models a leaf bigger than his head: check that one off the list!
We hiked along the Heritage Trail and over the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Masonry Bridge. It did my heart good to see Duncan and his friends so happy and carefree!
It occurred to me that if their basic needs are met, children are alike the world over.
A little way past the bridge, we finished up the scavenger hunt and then gathered in a picnic spot to have lunch.
I sat down on a concrete ledge and started chatting with a friendly mom who was accompanying her first-grade daughter. We covered the things people do when they’re just getting acquainted, and she asked me what kind of work I did. I always hesitate when this question comes up because “I make quilts” doesn’t seem to cover it. Most people don’t understand.
So as I stammered to explain, clumsily, Lisa Busby smiled and said, “Oh! I’m a quilter!” And just like that, in an unfamiliar place nearly 8000 miles from home, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit.
We had so much to talk about! We compared thoughts on fabric and patterns and designers, and Lisa told me about her friend Amy who’d helped her get started.
Lisa and Amy met when they both lived in Chengdu, China. Lisa’s husband is a U.S. Diplomat, and Chengdu was their second assignment overseas. Amy was her neighbor in Chengdu.
“Amy is an amazing quilter. She showed me all her quilts and I really wanted to learn how to quilt. So she helped my design quilts for my two sons’ beds. We did pretty simple striped quilts. They turned out so great!
The great thing about Amy is that she is so good at picking out fabric. She has been a lifesaver! I always go to her to help me pick out fabric.
After making my boys’ quilts I made quilts for my girls. Amy designed one of them and we found a pattern for the other. They were so much fun! After those quilts I started getting into sewing dresses for my girls.”
Lisa and Amy made gnome quilts last Christmas.
Both families eventually moved to Hong Kong. Before Christmas last year, Lisa and Amy decided to do a project together. These are the gnome quilts they made.
Since I’ve never seen a quilt shop in Hong Kong or even spotted quilting fabric, I asked Lisa how she finds it so far from home.
“We are very fortunate to be able to ship things through the Pouch/DPO (Diplomatic Post Office). So typically we order from fabric.com, Fabricworm or other sites. The postage is the same as if we were living in the states. In Chengdu and here in Hong Kong they do have large fabric markets, but typically you don’t find the best quilting fabric. It’s more like fabric for sewing clothes or other things. I have bought many things for kids’ costumes and things like that, but for quilts I don’t usually shop at the fabric markets here.”
Lisa plays down her own quilts but from what I can see, she’s making interesting things and she’s making them well. Her enthusiasm appears to be a source of ongoing motivation.
Lisa’s birdie quilt is hand embroidered.
The birdie quilt above features hand embroidery completed over many months. (Lisa is a mom to four children, so I imagine that stitching time is hard to find.) I love the light, bright mood of Lisa’s fabrics.
My next trip is coming up in April.