It was a dark and stormy day. The rain had been falling for hours, and the sky was full of gloom. Upstairs, however, in her sewing room, the dark gray of the outside world was barely evident. Piles and piles of scraps dotted the table top, the ironing board, the sewing machine cabinet, the cutting table, the floor, and window sills. Tiny splashes of color reflected off the overhead light, and color was everywhere. No, there was no darkness there. She was beginning her new project, a frantic attempt to FINALLY make use of her overwhelming pile of scraps, bits and pieces of a hundred rainbows of fabric left behind from previous encounters with her need to quilt, quilt, quilt.
"Why not take a break?" I asked. I was in her sewing room to change an overhead light bulb, a task she would normally do herself, but the steps of her small ladder were also covered in scraps. She had just finished a king-sized quilt, sworn again never to take on such a large impossible quilt, and was irritated and anxious that three days had gone by before she had started this new project.
"I take plenty of breaks," she said.
"That's why this room looks like a, a...." I was going to say "like a tornado hit it" but, to be honest, there was no chaos in the room, no destruction, no madness. All the scraps were sorted in some way, by color, by size, by shape, by fabric, so that to any half-sane quilter, the room was carefully organized.
"The room is just the way it should be for this project," she said.
"I won't argue that," I said. I stretched myself and rubbed my arms to relieve the pain I felt from having pulled every muscle to reach high enough to change the bulb to light up her scraps. The ladder would have helped.
"It's crazy," she said.
"It's going to be a crazy quilt?"
"No, it's a log cabin loony scrap quilt," she said.
"Looney as in crazy?"
"I don't know yet. It was just an idea to do something different and use up some scraps, but now that I can see what I've been doing, it seems crazy to do any more. I think I'll quit."
"You think you'll quit making the quilt now that you've been cutting and organizing and arranging and planning for the past three days?"
"No, I'm not quitting the quilt. I'm quitting thinking about why I began this, and I'm just going to do it even if it seems loony."
"That makes sense," I said.
"No, no it doesn't."
"But you're going to go ahead?"
"I'm going to go ahead," she said.
"I'm going to go watch the rain," I said.
"No, it's wacky and has too much color," she said.
"Are you talking to me?" She was at the foot of the stairs looking up toward her sewing room. She had been eager to get home from shopping to get back to her quilt. For several days she had been sewing small paper-pieced squares for her new quilt and she had about a dozen more to go.
"I can't face them," she said.
"You said you had to get back to work right away, that the quilt was waiting," I said.
"I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing. I may be doing the wrong thing. I hate the quilt."
"Then stop," I said. If I had a million dollars for every time she had told me she hated a quilt she was working on, well, I won't go there.
"You want me to stop?"
"Do you want to?"
"No, of course not. It should be a nice quilt," she said.
"That's better," I said.
"I'm not sure. Go do your quilt."
"That's where I am going," she said, and she put her right foot on the bottom step and then her left, and then, slowly, she went up the stairs.
"I'm done with the insides," she told me as we drove out of the garage and headed to the beach.
"Insides? Is that a new quilting term?" Why shouldn't it be?
"The insides are the foundation pieced centers for the log cabin outsides," she said. "I put together too many of them and now I've become balmy," she said.
"Balmy? That's another word for loony and wacky, isn't it?" I asked. She nodded.
"I think I hate it again."
"After all that work?"
"It's not what I thought it would be," she said.
"What did you think it would be?" I asked. She had told me a dozen times what it would be.
"A little bit of sunshine in my quilting life," she said.
"The sun is crazy."
"Too much color again."
"No, it's all just a scramble."
"Scrambles are good," I said. "It's just a scrap quilt, you said."
"I want it to be a good scrap quilt."
"It will be," I said. "Trust me."
"So, I should do the outsides?" she asked, but it wasn't a real question. Nothing would stop her from doing the outsides, whatever her doubts.
"Log it up," I said.
She made logs and logs and logs. Then she made walls out of the logs to go around the insides. Row after row of blocks which she sewed together. I saw her once in a while and every time asked, "How's it going?"
"I hate it. I love it. I think it'll be ugly. I think it will be a quilt full of fun."
"That's the right attitude," I said.
"I'm almost finished. I need some more backing."
"You're out of backing?"
"I made a lot of cabins. The quilt is a tiny bit bigger than I expected."
"We'll get more backing," I said. "Anything else?"
"It's maddening," she said.
"A lot like quilting," I said.
"Do you think I'll like it?"
"You always do," I said. Well, almost always.
"I'm going to do an appliqué next. A wall hanging. Small. Sane. Normal colors."
"I've heard that before," I said.
She finished the quilt sooner than she expected. "I'm finished," she said yesterday. "How do I look?"
"You look great," I said.
"Do I look loony?"
I looked at her closely. "No."
"The quilt is loony. It's all a scramble, too."
"You think so?"
"No. It's fine. I'm fine. I used up a lot of scraps."
"That's what you wanted to do."
"I like the quilt now," she said. "Do you want to see it?"
"Of course." I'm not crazy.
Copyright 2004 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Loony Logs Quilt"
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