The Lazy Quilter




She had been working on her quilt for two weeks when she ran out of one color she needed to continue the new quilt she had started. "I ran out of the right color," she said.

I have several possible replies to what she said, for she regularly ran out of the fabric she needed to finish a quilt. Oh, from time to time she promised herself she wouldn't start a project unless she had all the fabric she would need on hand, but in real life, a quilter's life, that is, she found that idea silly. "It's silly to believe I will know exactly how much fabric a quilt will need," she told me, also from time to time.

"And that's because...?" I would ask now and then, which is like from time to time, but not exactly.

"That's because sometimes I change my mind after I begin. Sometimes I measure wrong or the measurements in the pattern are wrong. Sometimes a giant eagle in search of food for its eaglets swoops down and snatches up several yards of my fabric thinking the fish or the frogs on the fabric are real."

So, of course, what I said in reply to her declaration that she ran out of fabric was, "Buy some more."

I expected her to say, as she said from time to time, or at least often enough, that she didn't want to buy any more fabric when she already had so much fabric she should use first even if that fabric was the wrong color. But, again, in trying to guess what she would say, I was wrong. "I'll need three yards of three colors," she said.

"Go for it," I said in my most encouraging voice, trumpets in my voice.


"What are you going to work on while you wait for the fabric to come?" I asked the next morning as we sat down for breakfast. She had a number of works in progress, a constant need to reorganize her sewing room, blinds that she promised to dust whenever I joined in by cleaning the grout in the kitchen counter.

"I'm going to be lazy," she said.

"No, really," I said.

"No joke," she said. "I'm going to do a little of this and a little of that and I'm going to do that all very slowly."

"What if one of your unfinished quilts screams out to you to come back and finish what you started three months before?"

"My quilts understand lethargy," she said.

"You're just going to twiddle?"

"I'm going to quilt something but nothing much, just a little of this and a little of that."

"A little of this and a little of that can add up to a lot of this and a lot of that," I said. I know that one plus one add up to two, and my sweet little quilter and her compulsion to baste and sew and stipple and bind add up to a woman who has never been indolent when it comes to the challenge of quilting.

"Do you see me quilting now?" she asked with great daring in her voice.

"You never quilt when you eat," I said.

"Ah, but I think about quilting," she said. "I look back at what I've done, and I look forward to all the quilting ahead of me, for the day and tomorrow and next month."

"But not now?"

"Now, I am thinking I should have dessert and a cup of tea," she said. And she had both.


By noon she had not gone into her sewing room at all. Once, I thought I saw her peeking up the stairs toward her sewing room, but she turned away and joined me for lunch.

"After we go for a walk this afternoon, I'm going to finish up the baby quilt."

"Which baby quilt?" A ha! That didn't take long at all. She was moving back into her quilting mode.

"The one I've been working on," she said.

"I thought you weren't quilting." I began, but she looked at me with a faint smile and I smiled back. I understood.


But, I didn't understand, not at all. After our walk, she went up to her sewing room, and she came down approximately twenty-seven minutes and thirty seconds later.

"I thought you were quilting," I said. Actually, it was a question without a question mark in my voice.

"I can't be quilting every minute," she said. "I need time for other things. You don't do anything for more than half an hour at a time."

"I'm retired," I said.

"And who in this room isn't?"

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Is a sloth sure?"

I didn't understand that question, so I smiled and went back to what I had been doing, which was not much.


Each day for the next three days she went up to her sewing room in short spurts of time, an hour, ten minutes, thirty-five minutes, ten minutes. And when she did go up the stairs, she went slowly, languidly, listlessly, languorously, without haste, as if she had never been infected by the quilting virus that I had always been sure lived in every bit of her brain.


"I feel lazy today," she said each morning, and each morning, more and more, I believed her. She was not lazy about anything else. She read, worked in the yard, walked with me or our neighbors two or three times a day, shopped, and kept herself busy.

"How far along with the quilt are you?" I asked each day.

"It's coming along," she said without emphasis, without her normal passion when she spoke about her quilts.

"Are you going to finish it?" I asked each day.

"It'll be done when it's done," she said.


Her fabric arrived and she opened the package and looked at the fabric. "Today is quilting day," she said.

"You're not feeling lazy?"

"Why should I feel lazy. I have a quilt to get back to. I have a project to finish."

"What about the quilt you've been working on?" I asked.

"That's finished," she said.

"What? When?"

"Two days ago. Three days ago. I don't remember when exactly."

"But...." I sputtered. "But...."

"I finished the quilt. Did you think I was lazy? Now, go make breakfast. I have to wash this new fabric and iron it and get busy."

"Get busy?"

"Quilters are always busy," she said. "Do you think quilts quilt themselves?" I cannot describe the look she gave me, but I knew the question her look asked.

"Quilters quilt the quilts," I answered. "Eager quilters. Energetic quilters. Fearless, ambitious, hustling, hard working quilters," I said.

"Right on," she said.


Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Lazy Quilt"

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