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Alter Egos: Lisa Green-Douglas/Greg Cotton

  Cover Story  

Lisa Green-Douglass, lecturer in Spanish
I am a quiltmaker. I made my first quilts during my early years in graduate school. At the time, I knew nothing about what I was doing. One of those quilts is still in existence, although in tatters. In the early '90s, I took a one-day workshop through a fabric store and made my first pieced quilt top. I knew nothing about putting it into a quilt and the inside bunched up after a few washings. Finally, I decided to commission the quilters at the Senior Center in Johnson County to quilt my quilt top. They invited me to join them, which I did. They were wonderful teachers! Since then, I've made four bed-size quilts, three baby quilts, and a few quilted wall hangings.

I love fabric-the look of it, its texture, and even the smell of new fabric. I find the entire process of piecing the quilt top to be very relaxing and it provides me with a creative outlet. My interest in quiltmaking goes back to my childhood when I would admire the fabric prints in the quilts that my grandmother had made. She used to cut fabric for her quilts while watching television, listening to music or while waiting for a pie to bake. The individual fabrics were not always pretty, but the final product was always beautiful. It fascinated me to see the patterns emerge as the quilt was being pieced.

I feel a great deal of satisfaction when I've completed a project that is not only a practical item, but a thing of beauty.

Greg Cotton, technical services librarian
I'm a spinner, weaver, and knitter. Ibegin with wool fleece as it comes off the sheep and end up with a sweater, a rug, or a pair of socks. These crafts are about as far from administering library computer systems as they could possibly be. For me, knitting, spinning, and weaving-activities that involve mindless repetitive motion-put me either into a meditative state, where I can think the great thoughts that I don't seem to have time for during daylight hours, or into a place where I am free to concentrate on some idea or problem. It is extremely relaxing.

I grew up on a farm with various kinds of livestock, but the sheep were my favorites. As a child I was amazed at how wonderfully clean and bright a sheep's fleece was underneath the weathered outer surface. My maternal grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 4 or 5 years old, and I suppose that piqued my interest in threads early on. When I was in college (during the back-to-the-earth 1970s) I started wondering if old crafts would die out and, not knowing any knitters personally, I decided that I would do my part and preserve one of them (old crafts, not knitters) and teach myself to knit. When I started weaving, I learned that looms consume a huge amount of yarn. I decided then that I would buy a cheap spinning wheel and teach myself to use it; my father was still raising sheep and the price of raw material was extremely adequate for my purposes.

My fiber work reminds me of the amazing standard of living we enjoy in contemporary America. When you've taken wool off the back of a sheep and by various bits of magic transformed that wool into a pair of socks, your attitude toward your socks changes! I have an entirely different relationship with socks I acquire that way than with socks I pick up at Kmart. The real satisfaction for me is seeing the process through from start to finish-starting with a raw fleece, washing, dyeing, and carding it, spinning the yarn, and then knitting the yarn into something useable. I suppose it speaks to some sort of need for rootedness.

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