Faces in the Crowd – Reap What You Sew

Posted on September 1, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with 3 comments

Carolyn Hudson


“My mother could do anything and fix anything. She taught us how to sew and we made our own clothes. It was just what people did back then.”

Meet Carolyn Hudson.

The family grew up in Sylvan Valley. With their property straddling the town and county, her school age years became a nomadic existence as she attended classes at the Parish Centre, Mount Saint Bernard, Morrison School, Antigonish High School and finally St. Andrew High School. She was always well dressed at school and was often complimented on her attire. Many of her classmates would later discover that Carolyn had made her own clothes.

Although encouraged by her teachers to become one of their own, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. She attended St. Mike’s in Toronto where she received her RN designation in 1969. She also made some lifelong friends as she and fellow classmates get together every five years. It was also around this time, that Carolyn dabbled with quilting for the first time. “I gathered material from hither and yon and had no clue what I was doing. I just tried to figure things out by trial and error.”

Nursing jobs were plentiful back then and she received a position at St. Martha’s Hospital. She spent most of her career as an OR nurse. “I enjoyed working as part of a team. The work was very technical and demanding but it had an order to it.”

Besides her interest in quilting, she discovered another passion in her 20’s – Western horseback riding. For a number of years she competed at local horse shows and also at the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, where she met her future husband, Alton.

Quilting fell out of vogue in the 70s and 80s. People could buy ready-made quilts off the shelf. It was an era of convenience. “Why make bread by hand when you can get a loaf at the grocery store?” seemed to be the mindset.

Later on, when authentic quilting made a comeback, Carolyn decided to get serious about her craft. “I wanted to learn how to hand-quilt properly so I was always looking at “How To” magazines in order to perfect my work. “Equipment and technological advances were important but there were still no shortcuts. “We learned by doing, and becoming good took time, precision and patience. I ripped out as much as I sewed!”

Despite claims that quilting is relaxing, Carolyn says that it is a double edged sword. “It can keep you sane or drive you crazy!”

Fourteen years ago the Highland Quilt Guild was formed, an opportunity for fellow quilters to get together on a regular basis. The group is very supportive of one another and they share ideas and encourage each other. It is also a social activity… a chance for old friends to meet and share the joys and sorrows of everyday living.

In 2010, Carolyn decided to take her work further afield and entered her quilts in a national juried show in Calgary. Lo and behold, she won first place in the “Original Traditional Bed Quilt” category. She continued to enter her works and has won many awards and accolades over the ensuing years. Carolyn is quick to point out that other members of the local guild are every bit as talented as she. “The only difference between me and my friends is that I decided years ago to enter competitions.”

At a recent World Quilt Tour in New Hampshire, Carolyn competed with top flight quilters from many countries. Her work was judged as the best Canadian quilt. You can view her winning entry #3501 here:

You can also see the works of the local Quilt Guild on display at the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition this week, or at their Bi-annual show at St. James Church on Sept. 23-24.

Despite her success with quilting she humbly suggests that other things matter more. “I want to be remembered as a good daughter, good mother, good wife, good sister and good nurse. I wasn’t perfect   at all of them but I tried my best.”

Carolyn has certainly reaped what she has sewn.


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