Quilters Newsletter Magazine began publishing in 1969 (I believe). I discovered it, about five years later; it was a grayed b&w format, the paper was more tabloid than magazine. But it was the only one around, as far as I knew. Over the years it has grown and prospered along with the quilting industry in American which is now estimated at about $3.5 billion a year. This month's issue says that quilters (on average) spend $2442 per year on supplies. That is not a cheap hobby. Quilters who are more than hobbyists spend much more than that.
Today I had a urge to stop at Tumbleweed Quilts which is the quilt store nearest me (not counting JoAnne's which is more of a hobbyist store with much besides quilting). I didn't need anything but I know I can always go into Tumbleweed, see some of the newest designs, resist temptation, check out their rock bottom selection of often hurt fabrics that they sell for 99 cents a yard (very few today), look through the nice array of books, and come home with one of their scrap bags, end cuttings, mostly which are ideal for scrap quilting. I spent (after my senior discount) a little over $24. I won't be doing that 100 times this year.
Back to QNW, as can be seen from the cover of a recent issue they show spectacular quilts. They also are aware of recent trends. They show art quilts, "modern" quilts, and prize winning quilts from various shows. They have a how-to section which has gotten smaller lately as they've added more subtantive editoral. The latter is what I especially appreciate. A very good article on how people who sell their quilts can figure fair prices bemoans two big factors: many people charge too little , essentially nothing for their labor, and everyone is at a disadvantage thanks to the cheap quilts that pour into downmarket outlets (Wal-Mart, etc) from Asia where they are made of inferior materials by people who are paid pitifully little.
I am paying attention, too, to bits of historical and factual writing in the magazines and a few others, because I am doing serious research this summer as I plan to teach a course at the Academy for Lifelong Learning called "History of American Quilts." Emphasis on history -- how quilting paralleled the economic ups and downs of America, how women used their quilts to make political statements, and how the ever increasing technology from the cotton gin and the sewing machine in the mid-1800s to today's computer design programs, have changed quilting. It's a big subject and I'm feeling staggered by possibly having bitten off more than I can handle gracefully. For that reason I appreciate, all the more, the increasingly solid information in Quilters Newsletter Magazine.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!