Sep 22, 2015

a vist with Yoko Saito at Quilt Party, Tokyo

My current visit in Japan is a celebration of the past 2+ years of work. One of the biggest rewards of writing this book is visiting with the arists who are featured and putting a copy of the book into their hands. This week I visited with Yoko Saito and did just that - placed an autographed copy of my new book in her hands.

She is always such a gracious host and even though we speak two different languages, we share the love of quilting and so its easy to communicate.

Quilt Party is located in Ickikawa, near Tokyo.
In addition to presenting Yoko Saito with an autographed copy of my book, I am carrying around one special copy of my book and asking everyone who is featured and who supported me to sign my book. 

And here's another thing I did. I carried with me a small, hand-quilted quilt made by my friend Emily at the Caffeinated Quilter using a Yoko Saito pattern and many Japanese taupe fabrics. Emily recently finished this combination hexie and rail fence pattern and she has been kind enough to loan her quilt to me for the next 18 months for my quilt guild book tour! 

So when I was packing for Japan, knowing I was planning to visit Yoko Saito, I packed her quilt in my suitcase and carried it with me to Quilt Party. This was a surprise for Emily... and a surprise to Yoko as well.

And here's an interesting cultural note. For me to bring a quilt of mine (or a quilt of a fellow American who would be at a similar "quilting" level to me) to present to Yoko Saito in person, is either foolish or brave, when you think about this from the Japanese perspective. You see, the Japanese quilt world works a lot like the rest of Japan. It is highly structured and there is a hiearchy that should be respected. Yoko Saito is a Master quilter. She teaches hundreds of highly accomplished students, and her students teach more students, and so on. She is a judge and curator. She is like the CEO level and me showing her this quilt is a bit like a mid-level employee who pops into the CEO's office to show off his latest project and he/she has skipped about six layers of management approval! 

That said, I spent 20-plus years in corporate world and I worked very closely with lots of CEOs and I saw this happen time and time again - and most of the CEOs enjoyed interacting with average employees and loved hearing their ideas, even if they weren't approved or vetted by mangers.  You know the old saying, its lonely at the top? Well its true. While the quilt I brought to show Yoko was not a Master-level, flawless work of art, nonetheless, when she saw this quilt it brought a smile to her face. She enjoyed searching for the fabrics from her lines and she laughed about this small quilt having been carried from America all the way to her shop.... purely so she could see it.

So, whether you see this as foolish or brave, for this one moment, we both had fun looking at Emily's quilt and sharing our love of quilts. And what's better than that?

Follow me on Instagram #emilysyokosaitoquilt  #japanesecontemporaryquilts  --- I plan to take some creative photos in iconic places of Emily's quilt AND my book as I travel to speak to quilt guilds this year and next.

So, this visit to Quilt Party was the first of many stops on this trip to put "books in hands" so to speak. It was a fun one. More to come!


  1. A sense of coming full circle as you present each contributor their own copy! I love the thought of collecting all those signatures in your own special copy too.

  2. That is so amazing!! Not only hand delivering a copy of the book, but having a special one autographed! What an amazing trip!

  3. Fantastic! Great story. Great photos.

  4. What a good story, Teresa. Your book arrived in the mail today and I plan to begin reading this weekend.

  5. That is wonderful you took Emily's quilt! It's fantastic to see the love and appreciation of a craft bring people of all levels together.