"Elves," she said.
"You thinking about Santa Claus already?" I asked.
"Or a leprechaun," she said.
"Small body," I said.
"That's what leprechaun really means. It's an old Irish word," I said.
"I need a small body," she said.
"You want to be a leprechaun?"
"I need to be smaller than I am."
"You seem small enough," I said. "A pixie."
"I'm not thirsty," she said.
"They're all elves of one kind or another," I said.
"I need small hands," she said.
"All right, what is this conversation all about?"
"Paper piecing," she said.
"Oh, quilting again." Wasn't it always about quilting?
"Do you want to see what I'm doing?"
"Do I have to?"
"You're the cause of all my troubles," she said. "You bought me this pattern at the quilt show. You just wanted to torture me."
"Quilting's not torture," I said.
"It is when the quilter is a giant," she said.
"You're not a giant. And what does your size have to do with anything?"
"Look at this," she said, and she lifted a thick clump of paper off her worktable and handed it to me.
"You sewed together a pile of paper?"
"Tiny pieces of fabric and tiny pieces of paper," she corrected.
"I've never done a paper-pieced project this small before. I need tinier fingers."
"Teeny-tiny," she said.
"You seem to be doing all right," I said encouragingly as I examined the paper and fabric sewn together. Lines of stitching zigzagged in every direction.
"Hah!" she exclaimed.
"So what are you saying?" I asked.
"Look how small the pieces are," she said. "Go on, look," she commanded. I looked.
"They are very small pieces," I said. To me, what I held looked like a pile of stitched confetti.
"Tiny ones," she said.
"And that's a problem? I thought paper-piecing was supposed to be easy."
"More accurate maybe, but not so easy. Not this one. Some of the pieces are so small I have to run the sewing machine by hand, one stitch at a time. Some of the pieces are only a stitch wide."
"You're exaggerating now," I said. Actually, to exaggerate is to make something seem larger than it is. Maybe she was minimizing.
"Hhmph," she said. To her, I was a doubting Thomas. Then she handed me the original pattern. "What do you see here," she said as she pointed to a line on a paper full of lines. There were numbers all over the paper as well. I took one look and got dizzy.
"My head is spinning," I said as I turned my head away.
"What do you see," she insisted. She turned my head back to the pattern for me.
"A pattern for madness," I said. It was. My brain's synapses were in gridlock.
"Each section is for a piece of fabric, a tiny piece of fabric. Now look here," she said, and she pointed her tiny finger at the pattern. Three lines formed a microscopic triangle. Inside the triangle, barely visible, there was a microscopic asterisk. *
Outside the triangle, on the border of the pattern, there was another asterisk with the number 8 next to it. I looked at it. I looked at my Darling Wife. "That's an extremely small triangle," I said.
"I have to sew that triangle onto the pieces you have in your hand," she said smartly.
"Can you do that?" I asked. I know I couldn't do it. I couldn't have sewn any of the jumble of scrap paper and fabric fragments I held in my hand even if the pieces were a hundred times larger.
"I could do it if I were an elf or a leprechaun or a pixie," she said.
"And as you're not some Tinkerbell?" I asked.
"I can still do it," she said, "but I may never be the same afterwards."
"So what you're saying is that this pattern had some very, very small pieces, and it is taking you a long time, but you are going to do it anyway because you are a quilter who is not a quitter?"
"When you put it that way," she said, and she took the pile of sewn puzzle pieces out of my hand.
"Are you going to work on that now?" I asked needlessly.
"I started it, so I have to finish it," she said.
"Part of some quilting code?"
"No, but I have to live with myself."
"You have to live with me, too," I said.
"I already live with you," she said.
"Yes, but you never had to overcome an asterisk before."
"We'll work on it together then," she said.
"Together?" How did I get in on this?
"You can hold the magnifying glass while I sew."
"You can do that, can't you?"
"Just one asterisk?" I asked. She nodded. "Then, let's do it," I said.
"Well, maybe two asterisks," she said. "Maybe three."
Click here to see Asterisk Quilt
Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver
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