"I don't know how big this quilt is supposed to be," she said to me as she shook the magazine in her hand. "If it's within ten inches one way or the other, that's fine with me," she continued. She was looking at a pattern for her new project that gave all its measurements in centimeters.
"Don't you want to be exact?" I asked.
"I want to be exact, but it doesn't have to be exactly the same as the original," she said.
"But don't you have to know how big it's going to be when it's finished before you begin so you'll know how much fabric to buy?" It was a ridiculous question. She always told me that if she planned a big quilt she needed to buy a lot of fabric. However, I knew from experience, even if she planned a small quilt, she still would need a lot of fabric.
"Usually," she said.
"Usually, but not now?"
"It just can't be too big or too small," she said.
"As long as it's the right size when you're finished?" I guessed.
"There doesn't have to be a right size. That's why we have all the extra fabric, so we can be sure to have extra inches if we need them when we quilt."
"You just said it was centimeters."
"All the centimeters we need. I need about 65 centimeters for the quilt. It has to fit on the table." She was holding the magazine she had bought on our last trip to England in one hand and pointed to the illustration of the paper-pieced table-top quilt with her other hand.
"We don't have a table that size or shape in our house," I said. The illustration showed a round table a little larger than a card table. Card tables are usually the same size, but some are larger and some are smaller. Some are square and some are round. Maybe it wasn't a card table.
"I'm not making the quilt for a table we don't have. I'm making it because I want to make it, but it has to be able to fit on a small round table if we ever have one, but I'll probably hang it on a wall."
"If you find a wall in this house to hang it on," I said. All our walls were taken.
"The pattern is sixty-five centimeters by sixty-five," she said out of the blue. Actually, I think quilters have their own supply of blue out of which many strange ideas and thoughts and words come. I always assumed that the blue was the sky and that the ideas or words came in the form of lightning bolts on a day when there was not a cloud in the sky. Regardless of the weather, anything that comes out of my Darling Wife's head is like a bolt out of the blue (not the same as a fabric bolt, but close).
'That's twenty-five-point-five-nine-zero-five-five-one inches," I said.
"About twenty-five and a half inches," I said. "Closer to twenty-five point six inches," I said.
"What are you talking about now?"
"Sixty-five centimeters. That's your quilt size."
"That's a good size," she said.
"A fine size," I agreed.
"I don't want to make anything large now. I just finished a large quilt."
"How big?" I asked.
"Sixty-eight by fifty-four," she said.
"Of course, inches," she said.
"One hundred thirty-eight point sixteen by one hundred seventy-two point seventy-two," I said.
"Centimeters?" she asked.
"Smaller than inches," I said.
"How do you know how many?" she asked.
"Computer," I said.
"You used a computer?"
"When you finished your last quilt. I looked it up with a measurement converter on the internet.."
"This one, too?" She pointed again to the pattern in the magazine.
"I thought you might want to know."
"I didn't want to know. Not especially. But it is interesting."
"So now you can be more exact."
"Exact means exact," she corrected me. "It's one of those words you can't qualify except to say it's not exact or it is exact. You can't say it's more or less than exact."
"You always qualify words that shouldn't be qualified" I told her. "When I look carefully at a quilt you finish, you say, 'Well, it's not that perfect but it's perfect enough.'"
"I can say that," she said.
"Why can you say that and I can't say that?"
"I'm a quilter and I decide how big or small to make a quilt and what's perfect or not perfect. Sometimes I think a quilt is more than perfect."
"When do you say that?" I asked.
"When it's finished," she said.
"I thought you said that finished is better than perfect. I never heard you say finished is more than perfect."
"Well, sometimes it is."
"So, what about the quilt you plan to make?" I asked, changing the subject before I got a more than perfect headache. "Will it be sixty-five centimeters or twenty-five-point-five-nine-zero-five-five-one inches?"
Whatever it comes out," she said.
"As long as it's close then?"
"If it's within ten inches," she said. "Or twenty-five-point-four centimeters," she added.
"Exactly," I said.
Copyright 2001 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "25.590551 Quilt"
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