Reporting from Quiltropolis 50273

If a colleague whose opinion you value says, “You really ought to meet so-and-so,” agree to it immediately.

A few months ago, a Winterset friend (Jerry)* said, “Marianne, you really ought to meet Julie Gammack.” I think the world of Jerry, so I said yes.

Julie Gammack is an Iowa native, a former Des Moines Register columnist, a person I had heard of, but not a quilt person, which is maybe why we had never crossed paths.

Jerry, Julie, and I soon had lunch together in Winterset at Easton’s Bistro, and, as Jerry predicted, Julie and I hit it off. She told me about one of her babies, the Okoboji Writers Retreat, which she founded in 1992, and a newer baby, the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative, launched in 2021.

The Collaborative is an online gathering of columnists from around the state of Iowa who write pieces on a variety of Iowa-related topics. After our lunch, I checked out the Collaborative, became a paid subscriber immediately, and started picking and choosing from the columns Julie blurbs and links to every Sunday via what she calls her Iowa Potluck.

As many people know, I spent a career in the quilt world at the national level. When I stepped out of that world in the late 2000s, my passion became my home town of Winterset.

What’s great for me about the Iowa Potluck is it exposes me to outstanding reporting from Iowa writers. It covers the space between Winterset and the borders of the state where I was born.

I was flattered when Julie asked me to join the Collective, and amazed when she offered to tootle back down to Winterset to help me set up my Substack account. We launched it on a Saturday afternoon, and within a few hours I had a couple dozen subscribers. Within a week, I was well over 100.

As you will learn from my debut column (which I hope you’ll read) I’m calling Winterset “Quiltropolis,” because so many great “quilty” things happen in Madison County. I plan to write on various topics, but will do my best to always throw in a quilt somehow. I also plan to keep my little essays on the short side.

Three columns in, now, so far so good. My second installment is about what it means to be born in Winterset. The third is about how I killed two rattlesnakes when I was in my 30s, one with a shovel, one with a rifle. (I made a quilt about the rifle one.)

If you like what you read, look for the blue “Subscribe” button somewhere between the paragraphs. Click on that to subscribe. It’s free.

*I later learned Jerry’s wife Randall, one of my best Winterset pals, suggested Jerry get Julie and me together.





3 Responses

  1. Susan Gordon
    | Reply

    Love it! I am pleased at the passion you have for writing in your “third half@. I look forward to many entertaining and inspiring reads.

  2. elizabeth a hinze
    | Reply

    I’ve subscribed : )
    Thank you

  3. Audrey Simonson
    | Reply

    My writing skills are being challenged as I recently became a “Hawkeye” writer for Pocahontas County for Our Iowa magazine. I had a stroke 15 months ago and don’t drive yet, so am challenged in getting around the county. I wish I’d had access to your writing workshops years ago. Have fun! Good luck.
    Audrey Simonson, Rolfe, Iowa

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