Rules? What Rules?




"Yahoo," she said.

"Yahoo," I agreed. She seemed so happy as she said it.

"Not the Internet Yahoo," she said, sensing that was what I thought. "It's a quilting yahoo," she told me plain and simple.

"A yahoo for quilting?" I asked, but I was really asking, "So what else is new." She was always cheering quilting in one way or another.

"I made a decision," she said.

"A quilting decision?" I asked. What else? No doubt she had finally chosen which of her many, many projects to do next. I should have expected something like that as she had spent the past two days going through back issues of quilting magazines, opening and closing quilting books, and going through her two dozen project drawers, each containing a project, each with the fabric long selected and designated.

"Everything I've been reading lately encourages creativity," she said. "I just haven't been creative enough in my quilting."

I just looked at her, waiting for her to continue. If I tried to ask anything then or make any comment, I would have been in trouble.

"I've been too careful, too strict, too afraid to be creative," she said. I kept looking at her. "I followed all the patterns, I drew within the lines, I obeyed the rules," she said.

"Sounds like what you always said a beginning quilter should do," I said carefully, ready to retract my words if she didn't like them. I was ready to run if she took serious offense.

"I quilted the last wall hanging at one inch and two inches," she said.

"That's wonderful," I said, hoping a cheerful response would be what she wanted.

"The pattern called for stitch-in-the ditch quilting. I climbed out of the ditch," she said.

"There you go," I said proudly.

"The batting was supposed to be high-loft. I used low-loft."

"Just what I would have done." I said.

"I used the wrong fabric and chose different colors," she said.

"Absolutely," I agreed. Who was I to squelch her when she was on a roll, her words coming one after another, smiles like rainbows on her face.

"I broke all the rules," she said.

"You broke quilting rules?" I asked. I should have been aghast. I should have been alarmed. My obedient rule-following quilting wife had broken some quilting rules.

"No more rules," she said. "I'm free."

"Free to be you and me," I said.

"What?" she gave me a puzzled look that said I had better watch my tongue.

"Go on," I said. "Tell me about the rules."

"There is one rule," she said.

I knew there was a catch. Quilters always had a catch. "What is it."

"The only rule is that there are no rules," she said, and she threw a tiny punch at my rib cage.

"Oof, ouch," I said as the blow landed.

"The books I've been looking at lately...." she began, but I interrupted.

"The new books you got months ago but wouldn't read because they were too advanced for you and had artsy-smartsy quilts in them with designs and colors you thought were impossible?" I asked.

"I've been reading one or two," she admitted.

"And they say to break all the rules?"

"I have to go beyond the rules," she said.

"To new frontiers in quilting," I said.

"This isn't Star Trek," she said.

"Still," I protested.

"All right, yes, to new frontiers, beyond the limits of ordinary quilting, a light year past the rules."

"So you quilted the wall hanging the way you wanted?"

"I quilted it to heck and back," she said. "I quilted every line, every puffy stretch of fabric, every bit of earth, wind, and fire."

"Earth, wind and fire?" I was losing her.

"And the deepest ocean," she said.

"You stretched a few rules," I asked, trying to get back on quilting track. The engine was out of control.

"I stretched the boundaries, I broke out of squares and triangles and straight lines. I used my imagination," she said, shouting now.

"You're free to use your imagination now?"

"I've unleashed my imagination. I've opened up my soul to new ideas. I am charting new currents in the ocean of creativity."

"Wow!" I said.

"Wow?" she asked, no doubt bewildered by my exuberance for where she was now going. "You never said 'Wow!' when I finished all my other quilts."

"All your quilts are wow," I said. I had to turn her in a different direction or she would have my head.

"Well, it doesn't matter now. I'm going to start thinking in a different way. I'm going to look at quilting from a new perspective."

"A new perspective is good," I said, relieved that she had quickly forgotten my past failure to wow her every accomplishment. I wouldn't make that mistake again.

"A new slant on things," she said.

"That, too," I agreed.

"I'm going to crayon outside the lines again," she said.

"I can understand that," I said.

"Square pegs can be made to fit into round holes," she said.

"With a big hammer," I said. She didn't respond to that. She probably had a sledgehammer somewhere.

"There's no rule that says I have to connect the dots in just one way," she said.

"I agree," I said.

"So, to be more creative, I'll need a lot more fabric and more batting and a lot more thread."

"Is there a rule that you have to have all that to be creative?" I asked, not-so-wisely.

"I can be creative with your neck," she said.

"So what was that number again?" I asked. 1-800-Buy More?

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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