Jazz I Spy




"We're tired of this old quilt," Jacob said.

"We spied them all," Garret said.

"Well, spy them with your eyes closed," I said.

"Don't be silly, Grandpa," they both said.

"We want a new quilt," Jacob said.

"Ask Grandma," I said.

"Grandma," Jacob called out. "A new quilt," Garret called out.


Now, it has been said by sages that we have free will, that it is a God-given right to be free to plan our own lives, but none of the sages took into account quilting and grandchildren. If anyone had will, it was an eager grandchild who knew how to manipulate Grandma and Grandpa. When there were two eager grandchildren, there was no saying no.

"I'll have to find an easy pattern," Grandma said.

"I thought you were already working on a new quilt?" That might have been a statement and a question both, but it was really neither. I was simply acknowledging the fact that whatever plans my Darling Wife had had for completing the quilt she had been working on, there was going to be a new quilt, and that quilt was going to be an "I Spy" quilt.


On the following Tuesday, when the grandchildren came, they swooped over to give us hugs, but they missed each of us by a mile and went to the couch where their cuddle-quilts lay folded in the corner. They grabbed at them, opened them up, looked at them, looked at each other, then looked again. They turned to Grandma. "The quilt's not here," Jacob said.

"Where's the new quilt, Grandma?" Garret asked. As he was only four, and Jacob was five, he was a bit louder and more demanding. "Where, Grandma??"

"It's not made yet," Grandma said.

"Why not?" asked Garret.

"It takes a while," Grandpa said, but they weren't looking to me for answers.

"It takes a while," Grandma said. "I have to get fabric, and I have to cut it up, and I have to get more fabric and sew it all together, and that takes time."

"Will it be done after dinner?" Garret asked.

"It takes longer," Jacob, said. Out of the mouths of babes....

"Maybe next week," Grandma said.

"With dessert?" Garret asked.

"With dessert," Grandma said.


"You have to finish it now," I said after our grandsons had been whisked away home.

"I'll have it ready," she said.

"The batting came today," I said.

"I know, but I have to paper-piece the sashing and that takes more time than the big squares. I cheated on this quilt," she said.

"Cutting out big squares isn't cheating. They all have animals and other creatures in them, and the boys can do plenty of spying," I said. "May I see it?" I added with a big wink of my right eye.

"When it's done," she said. Somehow, she usually said that. "You'd better see to that eye."

Several days later, I called up to her sewing room and waited for her at the foot of the stairs as we were about to go for a morning walk, but she didn't come down. I called up to her for a second time. She came out of her sewing room and stood at the top of the stairs and called down to me. "The bears are upside down," she said.

"Bears?" I asked. "We don't need any bears on our walk," I said.

"I sewed in the whole square upside down," she said.

"You can do that later," I said. I said that to her often, but it never seemed to convince her to stop whatever she was doing and go for a walk or eat a meal, or answer the doorbell, even if it was UPS and there was a package of fabric for her.

"I have to take it apart before the bears get dizzy."

"From standing on their heads?" I said. In the Land of Qoz, someplace like Oz but a playground for quilters--in that land, printed bears on a square piece of fabric could certainly get dizzy if they were upside down.

"Give me five minutes," she said.

"Half an hour then?" I know quilting time.

"Maybe an hour." She knows quilting time better.


Two days later, as her deadline was growing closer, as she spent more time on the quilt and less time in the real world, she ran out of the special paper she used for paper-piecing. "Use something else," I wanted to say, but I had long before learned that any suggestion I could make to use some other fabric or some other thread or even some other pattern was like, as my dear departed own mother would say, like talking to a wall.

"Oh, well," she said to me just a moment after telling me the bad news, "I can use some of that old paper. I don't need much."

"Good for you," I said, but I did not, no, I did not say it out loud.


Tuesday came. The grandchildren came. They rang the doorbell, one after another as they always both had to ring the doorbell, and as I opened the door, I quickly leapt aside to keep from being run down. They ran straight to the couch in the living room.

"Where's the," said Jacob.

"Where's the...," said Garret

"I spy," they said together.


"Thanks, Grandma," they said together as they stretched the quilt onto the floor and rolled on it and looked at it and touched it." I looked at it for the first time, and I spied the bears. They weren't dizzy. Not at all.

"Thanks, Grandma," I said.


Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Jazz I Spy" Quilt

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