It was a dark night, but it wasn't stormy. It was two hours before bedtime. I wasn't thinking about bedtime. It was too early to think about bedtime. However, quilters have an odd way of looking at time. My Darling Wife, being a quilter, was her own Mother Time. The only time to go to bed, excluding that time when total exhaustion might have her asleep at the sewing machine still quilting, was when she was satisfied that whatever preparation for quilting, quilting itself, or finishing quilting had been completed for the day.
So, I was surprised when she told me early last evening that it was time for bed. "It's time for bed," she said.
"I thought you were quilting," I said.
"I'm finished quilting," she said.
"So fast?" I asked. She had begun only a few hours before.
"I do fast quilting now," she said.
"You told me that doing quilting fast wasn't a good idea because then the quilting looked sloppy or wavy or lumpy or unfinished."
"That's when I was a slow quilter. It took a long while to learn how to quilt with the sewing machine, using the quilting foot, stippling, meandering, sometimes following quilting designs, sometimes just following the seams."
"You do the same thing faster now?"
"Sometimes I'm slower, but today I was faster."
"Did you do a good job?" I asked. It slipped out. It was a dangerous question.
"It's good enough for this quilt," she said, seemingly taking no offense at what I had asked.
"Then you're happy with the quilting?" She didn't seem as happy as she usually was when she completed a quilt. Her eyes were half closed, her built-in smile was gone, and she was hunched over, her head almost hitting her chest.
"I'm not unhappy," she said enigmatically.
"But you're not really, really happy?"
"It's time for bed," she said.
"Are you sleepy?" I asked. Something odd was going on here.
"I need to go to sleep so I can get up early tomorrow and begin a new quilt."
"I thought you planned to do the new quilt next week after you were through quilting this quilt."
"I'm finished with this quilt."
"A fast finish," I said. "It needed to be fast. I have other quilts to do."
"You rushed through it because you have another quilt waiting?"
"I quilted fast because I have many, many more quilts to do. I can't hang around waiting to finish just one quilt slowly when it could be quilted faster, so I quilted faster."
"Does this make sense to me?" I asked her. If I asked myself, I wouldn't have a good answer.
"It makes sense to quilt fast so I can get to the next quilt faster. Sometimes quilting is the hardest part. A lot of quilters don't quilt, you know," she said.
"You're not one of them," I said. "You need to quilt and quilt some more."
"That's because I have to do my own everything," she said.
"And everything includes the quilting?"
"Of course. What do you think I just said.
"You said you quilt the quilt," I answered. I listen when she speaks.
"And what else?"
"Fast," I said. "You quilted the quilt fast so you can get on to the next quilt because you have too many quilt-making ideas waiting in line, all of the quilt ideas and design ideas impatient, pacing back and forth until it's their turn."
"The quilting wasn't perfect today," she said then, spinning my mind around.
"The fast quilting wasn't perfect?"
"Some of the meandering crossed over. Some of the straight lines went out of the ditch. Some of the bobbin thread came out on top. Some stitches jumped."
"But nothing serious?" I asked, hoping there was nothing seriously wrong with the quilt.
"Nothing I will lose any sleep over. The next quilt will be better," she said, her voice dropping. She was talking more to herself than to me. Sometimes she did that. Actually, she did that a lot, talking to herself about quilting. She may talk out loud, as if she knew I was standing next to her and was trying to include me in her private conversations with the fabric and thread and batting, but she wasn't talking to me at all. She was something of a quiltamist, married to me all the time, but carrying on with her quilts.
"Are you going to quilt the next quilt more slowly?" I asked.
"Slow, fast. I'll quilt it the way I quilt it."
"You're not being very certain about it," I said.
"I'm certain," she said.
"So, then, what you're saying is that you are a fast quilter because you have other quilts to do, but if you decide to go back and be a slow quilter sometimes, that's all right as well because whether you are fast or slow depends on--what does it depend on?"
"I think you need some sleep," she said.
"Maybe," I said.
"Then it's certainly time for bed," she said. "I have a quilt to do in the morning."
I couldn't argue with that. We went to bed. Fast.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Fast Quilt"
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