Friday, October 12, 2007


When do you have to retire from competition?

I'm a Southern girl. Raised to be polite. Warned against pride. Encouraged to take the lead in making everyone comfortable at a dinner party. None of that training is helping right now.
If I were a man, I don't think I'd be asking this question. They seem to be taught different lessons.

Here's the deal...

I've spoken before about my quilting. The last two times I entered the local fair's quilting competition, I've won. This time (two weeks ago) I won *all* three top awards--Best Of Show, best hand-quilting, and best applique with two quilts. Last time I won Best Of Show from the "amateur" category and they told me I'd have to move up to advanced. So I did. And I won again.
(Excuse the pics which were done in a big cavernous building with a cell phone.)

Of course I was tickled pink. Pleased as punch. Darn right giddy. Who doesn't love appreciation for the things we've worked so hard to create? But then I became a little embarrassed when people asked me if I'd enter next year. Suddenly I felt a little like I might be kicking puppies.

I love entering a local show. I can carry my quilts to the show with my own hands. There's no shipping to fret and worry about. I can pick them up at the crack of dawn on the day they open to return exhibits. We have three local quilt quilds. (I don't belong to any of them.) There are a fair number of quilts entered. Plenty of local expertise, workshops from time to time. (I haven't gone to any.) If I knew these other quilters maybe I'd have a better sense of whether it's kosher to continue to enter locally.

When I picked my quilts up, the coordinator asked me if I'd enter again and I said, "Probably not. I'm not sure that would be fair." She was appalled and gave me a speech about how quality workmanship helps celebrate the craft and inspires others. Blah. Blah. Blah. But it sounded pretty good to me because that's what I wanted to hear. And there is a chance I could have my brains beat out next time.

Still I'm second guessing whether I should move on permanently. There are regional and national shows, which I do have plans to enter at some point. I've been to them. I think I can be accepted into some of those shows. I have quilts which I've designed just for that purpose, but does any of that have anything to do with entering a local show?

I would never say, "I've won too many writing awards. I won't enter again." Competition is the only way to know how you stack up. Where you fall short. Who's grabbing the hearts of readers, peers, reviewers. I don't hate Nora Roberts. I'd just want to write a book that would beat hers. That's a milestone.

One more thing... The quilt that went Best Of Show was only entered because I thought the green and red quilt wouldn't be finished in time. I figured I'd go ahead and enter the scrap quilt just to at least support the entries and have something there. The green/red quilt was supposed to be the "contender." That multi-colored scrap quilt was never made to be a show quilt. I won't go into all the reasons I wouldn't have selected it as one of my show quilts, but trust me when I say, "I was stunned to discover they'd chosen that quilt over the red and green quilt." I love that scrap quilt, but I never thought others would love it as much as I did. I thought it was ordinary. Charming but ordinary. What do I know? Go figure.

So, is it rude or egotistical to enter the local show? Or is it okay to enter so I can see my quilts displayed and my family can be excited? Do you think the other exhibitors really want me to leave or do you think they take inspiration from the quilts that place higher than theirs?

What's a girl to do?


flip said...

I think that you should enter the competition as long as it is fun. Your quilts are beautiful. Competitions are just about winning. It is an opportunity to see the work of other people.

Helen Brenna said...

Flip's right, your quilts are gorgeous. And I'm guessing the coordinator knows what she's talking about. She's probably your best gauge as to what the other local quilters are saying.

If she says they appreciate you entering, then I'm sure they do. You'll always have a few rotten eggs in the bunch. Ignore them for everyone else's sake.

Interesting, about the one that won best in show. They are both beautiful quilts, but in such different ways.

Most importantly, Congrats, Deb!! Very cool.

loralee said...

Deb, having been a judge in the needlework division of our local fair several times(and you know where I live)I know our rules stated that a previous win in a certain category could not be entered the following year. Every fair is different. If your Fair Board has specific rules, check them out. If your beautiful quilts are eligible, enter them with pride and smile when you take home the well-deserved awards. I'm sure they will inspire others to strive for the same proficiency.

Keri Ford said...

Deb enter those competitions! You work hard on those quilts. That's your chance to show off your work.

I love quilts!

You know, just an idea here, but you COULD do some sort of grand prize promo thing where you give away a book and a blanket

:) Did I mention I love quilts?

Debra Dixon said...

Flip-- Yes, it is fun. It's a goal I have every year-- making "the" fair quilt. And such a simple thought, "competitions are about winning." LOL! That pretty much sums it up.

Debra Dixon said...

Helen- Thanks! I do work in many different styles. Quilting has the same appeal as writing for me. They are crafts with infinite possibilities to explore technique and structure.

Debra Dixon said...

Loralee- The rules don't allow you to enter any quilt that has been entered before, but they say nothing about winning. The advanced catagory is for professionals, which I'm not, but I had no problem moving to that catagory when they asked, even though that's not in the rules. And you know they can change the rules anytime, so maybe I just let them make the decision and read the rules carefully next year for any changes.

Debra Dixon said...

Keri-- Thanks, babe! And you know maybe I'll do a mini-quilt giveaway here when the DAW fantasy comes out next year!

Michele Hauf said...

Gorgeous quilts! I made a quilt once. When I was in 12th grade. It's alot of work.

I say enter, enter, enter! Maybe after you get a shelf full of trophies and ribbons then you'll consider stepping down and letting some others win, but don't let anyone intimidate you not to. It could be the competition's sneaky plan to make you feel bad if you keep entering.


MsHellion said...

I say keep entering--because if you didn't enter and that someone else won--would they have won if *you* hadn't been there? I mean, say you entered and they finally won--they won--they beat you. It'd be like winning the Best Book of the Year against J.K. Rowling--true victory.

If they want to win it, they need to bring it.

Debra Dixon said...

Michele--I'm mucho impressed that a teenager started and finished a quilt! They have a special teen division in the local show and I love looking at their work.

And I love that you guys, so far, don't think it's rudeto enter a while longer.

Debra Dixon said...

"If they want to win it, they need to bring it."

Love it!

Great sentiment, Mshellion!

Of course, I'm biased because I want people to tell me I'm not being a bad person by entering. LOL!

Christie Ridgway said...

Deb: I LOVE your quilts. Especially am drawn to the one with the leaves and flowers on the border. Keep entering, I say! But if you enjoy the competition, you should also move up. Obviously you are ready for it.

Years ago I promised myself to get into quilting some day. I love handwork. However, right now I'm trying to do some knitting. I'm trying to teach myself but I think I need to find a group since I have so many questions. Isn't it fun to work with your hands!

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- That's good advice. I do enjoy this and I need to push harder at doing what is necessary to step up, which is entering juried shows which requires quality digital images, appraisals before the quilts are sent off, etc. I'm sure once I work out the exact requirements of the images, getting the insurance and appraisals done on time, etc. entering the bigger shows won't seem like such a production.

Oh, and I knit. I might be able to answer some questions via email and I can suggest a couple of books I think are the best for figuring everything out yourself.

YvonneLindsay said...

Debra, Keep entering the competition. It'll make everyone else work harder. The only time I'd stop entering is if it hurt too much not to win. I think it says alot that the quilt you loved making the most, your charming one, won. Maybe you're weaving a bit of magic in there too.

All the best for next year!

Debra Dixon said...

Yvonne-- Thank you. I love the thought of "weaving a bit of magic in there." That's also very like what we aspire to do in the books and stories we write.

Curious Lady said...

Keep entering, Deb! Your quilts give other quilters a goal to reach -- beating you. Your quilts are beautiful, and all the work you put into them deserves any recognition they get. Other quilters will learn from you and your techniques and fabric choices and everything else that is involved in making one of those gorgeous quilts. Keep on keeping on!

Debra Dixon said...

Curious Lady- Well, thank you! You know, fabric/color choices are the things I most like to study when I see groups of quilts. I hadn't quite thought that the variety is one of the things I learn most from. When I see things others have done that I wouldn't/couldn't have imagined I do find my mind opening up again with new ideas.

flchen1 said...

Debra, I don't quilt myself (I keep thinking that it'd be something fun to start someday) but I love looking at them, and yours are GORGEOUS! Just want to say what's already been said--if it's not against the rules to enter, keep on competing! Your quilts are works of art, and it's a gift to share them so others can appreciate them, too. And I've never competed in something like this, but I'd imagine that it'd be inspiring to see others' work--if someone else's stuff is really better than mine, I'd want them to win, and then I'd want to figure out how to make mine better!

Like you and others have said, it's not as satisfying winning if the best of the best aren't in the pool...

Debra Dixon said...

flchen1-- Quilting is a fabulous stress reducer for me. I get quiet, focus on something I love, most of the time making something for someone I love since I give most of my quilts away.

You guys have convinced me, that for now at least, as long as the rules don't prohibit the entering of *new* quilts by previous top winners, I'll continue to enter for a while.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Wow, Wow, WOW! Deb, they're gorgeous!

I love handcrafted work. I don't do much myself--a little knitting. I made clothes early on, but that was for strictly practical reasons. I was never really creative with it.

But you are, and that's probably why you enjoy the competition. I agree with the "if it feels good so it" philosophy in this instance. It must be fun to see your work on display, and I'm sure everyone who competes looks forward to seeing your entries up there, too. And they look forward to winning one day, but what fun would it be for them if they thought they couldn't win until you retired?

Hey, I beat Nora for a RITA. And Sandra Brown. She's my only RITA in 10? 12? times as a finalist, and I'm pretty darn proud of her.

I say go for the national championship, girl!

Kathleen Eagle said...

If it feels good, DO it. That's what I meant. As long as it's legal. Ever the liberal but law-abiding Boomer is Kathleen.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathy-- LOL! See, that proves the point the folks have been making to me. The value of the RITA award for you went up exponential based on the other peers in your category! If you'd won that RITA after so many nominations against Doofusinia Nobody, you would have been very disappointed!

Carol Anne said...

I don't think you know that I'm curious lady, and I love the choices you make. Knowing you, I know each choice is well thought out.

--Carol Anne

Debra Dixon said...


Carol Anne!!

I know that's you but I just didn't "know" that was you *here.*

C.L. Wilson said...

I'd say asking you to leave the quilting competition because you're work is so gorgeous would be a bit like asking Tiger Woods to leave golf so Phil Mickelson could win.

Besides, just think of all the incredible quilts you may inspire from the imaginations and skills of competitors hoping to beat you!