The Scrap Heap




"Yowl!" she said.

"I heard you yowl," I said to my Darling Wife after I drove quickly home from the gas station, parked the car, hurried out of my seat, and ran into the house and down the hall to her sewing room. Her "Yowl" had carried a long way. "What kind of yowl was that?" I asked. Sometimes I know her yowl sounds. Sometimes I think I do, but I don't. And sometimes, like now, I had no idea. "You heard me at the gas station?" she asked.

"It was a quilter's yowl," I said. "The astronauts in the space station could hear it."

"It was just a little yowl when I started to think about my next project and went through my scrap drawer."

"Did you run out of scraps?"

"Almost. My pile is getting smaller. I'm almost out of scraps."

"You could cut up some of your fat quarters or half yards or yards or half dozen yards?" I suggested.

I admit, her response to my foolish statement showed she was a very patient woman. First, she made sure she had heard me correctly. "What did you say?"

I repeated what I had said. "If you need a few more scraps you can cut some from something else," I added.

Then, showing her patience still more, she asked, "Do you know what a scrap is?"

Now, of course I know what a scrap is. Our house is full of scraps. Or at least it was before she announced her formerly sky-high heap of scraps had now dwindled down to a precious few, like those proverbial days of September. But it was December, and she had, after all, just given out a "Yowl!"

"You don't have to answer," she said before I could answer. "I used up all those scraps for my last quilt so that I can't work on the scrap quilt that I started last spring, that lonely unfinished, unhappy, and unfulfilled quilt."

"You'll have more scraps," I said, trying to encourage her, but no longer wanting to suggest she cut up anything.

"I'll have to make a lot of quilts so I can have lots of scraps to add to my scrap stash so I can finish the scrap quilt some day."

"That shouldn't be too long," I said. "Your scrap pile should be back to normal in no time." Of course, to use the word normal around a quilter left a lot to be desired in regards to an agreed upon definition. I have never heard a quilter refer to there being a "normal" size scrap pile.

I expected her to soon have a lot of new scraps. She was working on a new quilt already, a combination Southwestern and African appliqué quilt. She had already made a giraffe and a tortoise and was working on a lizard. Also, two days before, she had begun experimenting with making her first Mariner's Compass paper-pieced block, and she had started making a holiday quilt, and she had also printed out the pattern for a wall hanging full of tiny houses. Indeed, if she continued on as she had been doing the past two weeks, the floor of our entire house would be knee high in new scraps. Our neighbors wouldn't need to wish for a white Christmas this year (in a town where it only snows enough to stick on the ground every ten years or so, anyway). Her scraps would blanket every street and avenue and road. Children could sled on hills of scraps. Horses covered in bells could pull sleighs full of happy families through lanes glistening in calico and gold crush and purple marble and Bali batik (if we had sleighs and horses, which we don't).

"I don't like having only a few scraps left," she said, interrupting my thoughts of sugarplum quilts.

"I'll cut you some for your birthday," I said, having a new idea. Her birthday was in two weeks. "And I can cut you some for all the holidays coming up for the next month."

"You can't purposefully cut scraps," she said.

"I've seen you cut some when you needed just one or two little pieces," I said.

"Those were just snippets in an emergency. Snippets don't count. A scrap quilt has to have scraps and there's no way you can convince me otherwise."

"We could organize a neighborhood scrap drive," I said, thinking that was a good idea. "We could go from house to house asking for sewing scraps and quilting scraps," I gushed in foolish vain. "We could tell all our neighbors the defense of our country depends on your building up your diminishing scrap pile."

"You probably need to eat some fish now," she said.


"Food for the brain, I'm told. Yours seems to need nourishment."

"All right," I said, my image of myself as a helping hand greatly diminished in size, like her scrap pile. "I won't say another word about scraps. But you have to promise not to scream all the way to the gas station so that I think someone has broken into the house and stolen the very last embroidery needle you need to finish the satin stitch around an appliqué of a lazy lizard."

"The scrap mountain was down to a molehill," she said.

"Well, I'm sure you can make a mountain out of that molehill again."

"You really think so?"

"What did you just do?" I said as I watched her cut away the excess fabric from the lizard she had completed.

"I cut out the lizard," she said.

"And what was left after you cut out the lizard?" I asked.

"Just a couple of scraps," she said.

"Just a couple of what?"

"Scraps," she said. Then, no doubt realizing what she had just done, she bent down to the floor to pick up the two scraps from the lizard, and then she saw the scraps from the tortoise and the giraffe, and she said, "Yowl!"

Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

The Scrap Heap

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