Designated, Schmesignated




Go figure. Just when a soul begins to believe that he understands what is in the mysterious mind of a quilter, that mind transforms itself into another, changing shape so often that the poor soul never gets to keep up. Take today. Please.

"I can't do this new project until I get new fabric," she said. Now I've heard that before, and that statement is followed by action. A telephone call, an e-mail, a drive across town, and then another dozen yards of fabric arrives at our house. The quilt stores all give thanks.

But this time the new fabric had already come. The shelves were bulging. The drawers were bulging. The only thing left in the house that wasn't bulging was our bank account. "You have new fabric," I said. I glared at her, just daring her to deny that she owned ninety percent of the world's fabric supply.

"Yes, I do," she said, her voice full of pride of ownership.

"So, if you have the fabric and you have the project and you have the time, why can't you get to work?" Please.

"I need new-new fabric," she said. Now, to a normal person, anyone who is not married to a quilter, she had just a moment before admitted to having A LOT of fabric. Now, if I heard her correctly, and I have learned to hear her very well when it comes to quilting, she is saying that unless she has newer fabric than she already has, she can't begin her new project.

"All of your fabric, which if sewn together could clothe the world, that's not enough for what you have in mind?" I asked. I was pursuing a lost cause. I knew it, but I was tangled up once again in a conversation that had a beginning and a middle but no end. I needed closure of some sort before I could go on with any other part of my life. Talking about quilting somehow exhausted every cell in my body.

"I can't use the fabric I already have," she said, a plaintive cry in her voice.

"What?" Had there been a flood that washed her fabric out to sea one hundred fifty miles away? Had there been an earthquake that opened up a fissure in the earth that swallowed it up? Had lightning struck every pile of her stash and turned it to ash?

"It's not for this quilt," she said.

"Wrong color? Wrong texture? Wrong design? Wrong manufacturer? Wrong quality overall?" I had a hundred questions, but she stopped me there.

"It's designated," she said.

"Oh, of course," I said, completely agreeing with her. No matter what explanation she was about to give me, she would be right. She would be logical. She would make sense in the quilt world's parallel universe she lived in.

"You don't know what I'm saying yet," she said, not being tricked by my quick agreement.

"I know that you will tell me what you are saying," I said patiently. How did I know I was about to get a headache.

"I admit to having a little fabric," she said. I didn't rush in to protest her use of the word "little." She would never, ever admit to having anything but a "little" stash. That's like saying the Grand Canyon is a "little" pothole.

"Go on," I said.

"But a quilter needs to know what she's going to do next," she said. I knew that ploy. It was never she, herself, she spoke about when she had these conversations. Oh, no, she needed to take strength and comfort in numbers. Darling Wife wasn't alone. There were all those millions of quilters out there on her side.

"Yes, I suppose a quilter does need to know what she is doing next," I said, using SHE, of course, as a generic term for both men and women. Right now my DW was that SHE.

"And when a quilter thinks about projects she thinks about the fabric for those projects," she continued.

"I absolutely understand that," I said.

"So, a quilter has to plan carefully, so that the finished project will come out exactly as planned," she said.

"Exactly," I said. "So what did you do?" I asked, cutting to the chase. (Now, when watching movies, some people do get impatient with the story line and the dialogue and want to get to the action, to the chase. I wasn't impatient with the story, which is partly the story of my life, too. I was just getting hungry and it was time for dinner.)

"So, you remember when I reorganized the sewing room and reorganized all the fabric according to color and design....?" She looked at me for an answer before she went on. That was another trick, I was sure.

"I remember," I said.

"Well, I designated the fabric I need for this new project to a different project, and so I can't use it, and I need new fabric."

"That makes sense," I said in an effort to stall long enough to think over what she had just said and decide whether one word of it made sense to me. I needed help. "You designated all your fabric for future projects and so you can't use any of it unless you make that project you designated the fabric for?" I think I was close to spouse burnout.

"Not all my fabric. That would be silly and would take me until 2010 just to do my solids....and maybe my marbled fabric. I just designated some, but I designated the slate blue for the roof of a house so I can't use it for part of the seascape, so I need some new fabric I can use."

"That's it? That's the whole explanation? I asked. I was disappointed in her. I understood it. How could I explain to my friends that I understood about designated fabric? I would be a laughing stock of the IQS (International Quilting Spouses) at our convention--if we ever had an organization and we ever had a convention.

"Well, that's not all of it, but that's all you need to know for now. I'm getting hungry, and I still have to pick out the fabric I want and order it. After that, I have to designate some of the florals for my next Stack-n-Whack."

"When's that project?" I interrupted.

"Probably next year," she said, her right index finger pressed to her right temple in thought. "Unless, I change my mind," she added.

"Couldn't you just change your mind about the designated fabric and use it for this project and designate new fabric for the other project?"

She looked at me and looked at me. I knew that look. I went to the kitchen. I would probably have to make my own dinner again.

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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