24 April 2009

The Starter Quilt


Throwing caution to the wind, I embarked upon my first quilt. The desire to make a quilt had been growing in me since my grandmother gave me quilt squares made by my great-grandmother almost two years ago. I'm not quite finished with this starter quilt, but nearly so. I didn't follow a pattern. I laid the blocks out on the floor and pieced them together haphazardly. I consulted a few books like Anna Maria Horner's Seams to Me only after I had sewn the batting and backing. I eagerly jumped into machine quilting without following any of the proper steps. And what happened? A lumpy, sad crib-sized quilt that would have to hide in the back of the closet in shame, or be repurposed into something else.


But this week was different than most, so the story ends better than it started. Today was my week off, from everything besides domestic endeavors and rest. I had a nasty fall after blacking out two weeks ago (dehydration, low blood pressure) that gave me a minor concussion, and when I came to, I basically realized I had to stop my high pressure routine. I'm still sorting it out, but things are better. I'm not going to move as fast as I had been. And you know what? Even that first week after I fell, I felt guilty while cutting quilt pieces. It was broad daylight and I was supposed to be working!

I knew the problem was me and not anyone else. So, after a nice long talk with one of my dearest friends, she prescribed me not one, but two weeks off. She told me to find a way to move my deadlines back another week. Everything could wait.


So I picked up the quilt blocks and started piecing. Like I said, I did little planning, and it turned out badly. A third grader with a plastic sewing machine could have done better. I rushed. Just like I said I wouldn't. And then, the remarkable thing happened. I said, so what? Fix it.

Since Wednesday, I have been sitting in a cozy chair in my living room with a nice lamp over the quilt, and have been taking out each and every quilt stitch. Today is Friday, and I just finished this morning. Thousands of little stitches. When I first started taking the stitches out, I really resisted it. I got bored. This is similar to when I try to meditate. First eagerness, then boredom, and finally, finally peace. About half way through, I realized I was enjoying myself, and with it came the relief that the quilt could be saved.


{My friend Meg will notice she gave me most of the fabric! The bright aqua and orange flower pattern was a lining I used on my 2006 handbags.}

I ironed out all the little pinpricks from the needle, and will try a different approach to sandwiching the layers. If I had thought about it a little bit, I would have realized most of the quilts my grandmother has made are tied together with bits of colorful yarn, stuck in the center of the square, and not machine quilted at all. I'm not really going for a pom-pom look, but I think I might try some cream-colored x's in select areas.

I'm not sure what next week will look like, but I know it has to retain this feeling of moving at a slower pace, and being more in sync with my energy and my family. I'm looking forward to it.
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