Error and Trial




"Yippee," she whispered.

"Yippee?" She was smiling a queen-sized smile.

"It's finished! Finished! Finished!"

"Why are you whispering?" I asked.

"It's a quilt shout," she said.

"You're really shouting?"

"Loud," she said. "Your quilt is done."

"You finished the queen-sized Amish churn dash quilt that you've been working on for ages?" I asked.

"Yes," she whispered.

"You're still whispering," I said. She should have been shouting.

"I don't want to brag," she said modestly.

"You should brag," I said. I'd brag. If I could cut a square out of one solid color, I'd brag.

"Even if it were perfect, I wouldn't brag."

"I can't hear you," I said. Her whispers were below my hearing threshold.

"Even if every stitch was perfect and every square was square and all the sashing was straight and the borders and the binding were absolutely flawless, I couldn't brag," she said. She spoke normally and I understood every word.

Now, what brought that on was my comment to her several weeks before when she was putting the top together. When she had reached the end of the first row of squares, she made the beginning quilter's mistake of asking me, the future recipient of the quilt, me the HH (honest husband) what I thought. "What do you think?" she asked.

"The third square's is a little wider than the others," I said.

"Oh, you, what do you know," she said. It wasn't a question. It was a pout. More, it was the painful response to my answer, an answer based on my taking the Boy Scout oath 50 years before, that oath to tell the truth.

"It's not that bad," I said.

"Go make your own quilt," she said, and she upped and left the room.

It was three days later before she went back to the quilt. In the meantime she had sewn two outfits for our grandkids, made two embroidered bibs for a friend's new baby, and frowned at me whenever I said, "I'm sorry." And I said that a lot. For one thing, I'm not the president of the United States. For another thing, she is my Darling Wife. For a third thing, she was making the quilt for me. Most of all, I was sorry.

"I'm finishing the quilt," she said as she sat down at the sewing machine. I'll finish it and if you don't want it because it's crooked, I'll give it to the first person who comes by and rings the doorbell and looks cold."

"It's 110 degrees out," I said.

"It'll take until winter to finish this," she said. "Mistakes and all," she added under her breath.

"I don't see any mistakes," I said. The heck with a 50 year old oath.

"I'm just learning," she said. "Error and trial."

"Error and trial?"

"I made an error because I forgot how much the fabric could stretch when I was sewing the squares together, and asking you anything has been a trial."

"And tribulations," I said.

"Do you want me to finish this quilt or not?" she threatened.

"Yes." I said.

"Then get out of here and let me finish."


That was then and this was now, and the quilt was finished. She carried it into the bedroom. I followed quietly behind her. "Do you want this or not?" she asked as she held the folded quilt over the bed.

"I want it," I said.

"It has some errors in it," she said, testing my resolve.

"I won't see them," I said.

"You'll see them. You'll see that some of the sashing is crooked, some of the squares are not square, some of the quilting is off a little. Every day for the rest of your life you'll see my errors. Can you live with that?"

"I want it," I said. I didn't see anything but perfection. She had worked long, long days the past week to finish the quilt.

So we spread the quilt out over the bed. The Amish design was gorgeous. The colors were a brilliant display of her hard work. The bed was no longer a bed. It was a base, a foundation for her quilt, our quilt. My quilt.

I don't see any errors," I said honestly. So, maybe I am still a Boy scout.

"And you'd better not," she said, "or the rest of your life will be a trial."


It was 106 in our town yesterday, but in our house the air conditioning was working well, and last night I slipped in under the quilt and slept very well indeed.

Click here to see My Amish Quilt


Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver

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