"I hate quilting this quilt," she told me one morning.
"Which quilt is that?" I asked.
"The quilt I'm quilting," she said.
"Oh, that one. I thought you loved it?" She did tell me she loved it. It was bright and exciting and she raved about it for weeks as she painstakingly stitched her way through the creation of the top. It seemed as if she ran her sewing machine non-stop for days, joining the pieces together.
"Love? What does love have to do with it? A quilter has to make decisions based on logic, artistic quality, passion, and exuberant excitement."
"Sounds a lot like love," I suggested.
"Well, you're mistaking piecing for quilting," she said. She stood in front of me at the bottom of the stairs which lead up to her sewing room.
"Oh, I see. Putting together the top is piecing and not quilting," I said, somewhat confused and blind to what she had just said.
"Words are confusing in quilting," she said.
"Quilters are confusing," I said in a whisper, hoping that would get by her.
"I'm not confused," she said defensively. "Yes, I am," she added. "I meant to say that some words mean one thing one time and then another thing another time. Even when I say quilting I mean machine quilting and not hand quilting which would take me a hundred years or so."
"You were talking about hating the quilt you were once loving," I said to remind her of how this conversation got started.
"You're right," she said, sighing.
"What am I right about?" I asked. Now I was confused.
"The difference between making a quilt top and quilting a quilt.
"Go on." I wanted to be helpful.
"I loved making the quilt top. I loved the planning and the cutting and the designing and the machine sewing. I even loved the quarter-inch seam allowances."
"I can understand love like that," I said.
"Quilters use words that aren't always what they seem to be,"
"Square and block. They can mean the same or not the same. Patch and patchwork are confusing, too.
"I always get them mixed up," I said. I do. My Darling Quilter has a license plate holder on her car that reads, "Quilters go around the block." Is that like going around a square? Do quilters construct squares or blocks and are they the same thing or are they different?
"Just think of them as the same thing depending on how the words are used," she said seriously.
"Gulp," I said. I could be serious as well.
"I can be quilting and mean I'm making a quilt top, or I can be quilting and mean I'm quilting the quilt, which means I finished sewing together all the blocks or squares and added the sashings and borders until I have a quilt top." She looked at me for a sign that I understood her.
"You love making the quilt top but hate doing the quilting?" I ventured.
"Yes. No. Sometimes I love doing the quilting, which means sewing together the top and the batting and the backing. If the quilt is a wall hanging or a runner or a pillow top or a pot holder, then quilting is easier."
"And you love easier?" I surmised.
"I love difficult, too, but sometimes difficult doesn't come out right."
"Let me get this straight," I said, for my head felt quilted as she spoke. "You sometimes love doing the quilting, but if the quilting is difficult and boring and you have to quilt too much stitch-in-the-ditch or too much meandering or too much stippling or echo quilting, then it's not fun, and though you may love it when you're done because you accomplished the impossible, sometimes you don't love it when it's done."
"Bad quilting can ruin a quilt," she said.
"How bad?" I asked, always inquisitive.
"If the quilt is really big, as this one is, then I can't get it through the sewing machine without something going wrong or the stitches going off on their own, taking a little side trip somewhere across the fabric. This quilt isn't really big, just big enough to have made me dislike it about halfway through, and it's becoming a visual disaster."
"A seeing disaster?"
"I don't want to look at it any more."
"But you have to finish it?" She was in the middle of quilting it, and she had to finish it. If she had not begun quilting it, she would have another top to put away in a drawer for another time. Sometimes that time doesn't ever seem to arrive.
"I have to finish it," she agreed. "But I hate quilting it."
She grumbled now and then, groaned now and then, but she kept on, a little at a time, a little more at another time. Days went by. Oh, she seemed lived her life the rest of the time in a normal fashion, but she seemed to make those trips up to her sewing room less and less frequently, stretching out the time between groans and hate-filled invective, such as "Gosh darn or Gosh a-mighty darn quilt."
Some days she didn't quilt at all but spent her time going through patterns and books looking for her next quilt project, a "sensible" quilt project, she told me. Other times, she organized her notions, visited with her stash, made a trip to buy a new cutting mat, took inventory of what she had and made list of what she would need in her quilting future. But she did work on.
"I'm almost done," she said to me to me days before. She had come down from her tower of quilting and sighed and sat down on the sofa.
'"How close?" I asked. I was getting impatient with her slow progress, for the sooner she finished the sooner quilter's sunshine would brighten our house again. That bright light, of course, required a happy project.
"Only the binding," she said without emotion.
"Then you're done with quilting the quilt?"
"I hate it," she said.
"Love turned to hate," I said philosophically, but she didn't appreciate my words of wisdom.
"I should burn it," she said.
"You would never do that," I said. She wouldn't.
"No, but I don't want anyone to ever see it."
"I like the quilt," I said, having seen only the finished top, not the quilting, "It's bright and snappy and peppy and full of color."
"Not now," she said.
"You made a lot of mistakes?"
"No mistakes. I just quilted it a lot."
"A lot of quilting? That's all right," I said.
"A lot of lot," she said. "I used a lot of thread."
"We can get more thread," I said.
"There's no place I can hang it," she said. "Not that I would," she added with another sigh.
"When can I see it?" I asked.
"Tomorrow--if you promise not to make any comments about it at all."
"No comments," I promised.
Today she brought down the finished quilt and showed it to me. I made no comments. I looked at the quilt and the quilting. I kept my lips sealed. I liked the quilt and the quilting, but what do I know?
"I'm not going to show it to anyone else. It's censored," she said,
"When are you starting the new quilt?" I asked.
"I already did. Three weeks ago. It's going to be wonderful."
"Three weeks ago?"
"I'm a quilter," she said. And, so she is. So, she is.
Click here to see the finished "Quilt"
Copyright 2002 by A.B. Silver
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