Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quilting ...

Many years ago, when I worked the Tribune, I met Cheryl. Our desks were near each other. I did television- and radio-related things. Cheryl was Bob Greene's assistant.

We became friends – and are friends still. I loved her creativity. She taught dance and was involved in community theater. And one day, she decided to make a quilt.

I don't know why. Just another thing to do that she hadn't done before, I guess.

But I loved the idea. So one day, we went shopping for fabric for me and she loaned me her pattern and cutting wheel and cutting mat and quilting ruler (which I still have). I cut my calico into 960 pieces and started stitching.

I remember sewing the first pieces in bed, but the bulk of the quilt was created on my loveseat in my first apartment, a studio on Waveland within hearing and cheering distance of Wrigley Field. On game days, I would watch my TV and when someone hit a homer, I could hear the roar of the crowd through my open windows.

It was a stressful time at work – looking back, I wonder why I let myself be so bothered – and quilting provided solace. The repetition of stitching was like a mantra. I was meticulous with the spacing of each stitch. Quilting required focus, allowing my brain to drain of all the stress of the day.

My quilt grew until the day that I tied off the thread one last time. The top of the quilt, mind you. The pieced part of the quilt. And to this day, it remains in a dresser drawer, folded, unfinished. I never had any inclination to buy the backing and the batting and actually quilt my quilt. I liked the piecing.

My mom encouraged me to show it to my grandmother, my dad's mom, who was never particularly crafty, at least not that I remember as a child. We held it up so she could see it in all its queen-size glory. She took a corner in her hand and flipped it over to examine the stitching.

"You did this on a machine. These stitches are too perfect," she snorted.

To which I wanted to reply, "The hell I did. Listen, old woman, I spent a year of my life on this. And I did it all by hand."

But I didn't. Didn't say that to her, that is. But I did sew the whole thing by hand.

My friend Henry wrote this morning and mentioned his upcoming family vacation in Wisconsin where he and his kids will fish and his wife will quilt. I love the idea of sitting on a porch or a deck breathing in summer air, listening to the far-off sounds of nature, and creating a quilt. What a good vacation.

I might have to buy more fabric soon.

I just took my quilt out of my drawer for the first time in I don't know how many years. It was nice to see it again. Here, let me introduce you:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. So you did or you didn't do the whole thing by hand???

9:14 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yup, I did. And I added a few words to the post to clarify that.

I refrained from snapping at my grandmother, but I did indeed sew it all by hand.

9:18 AM  

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