The eagle quilt was finished. Worn-out-Joan was exhausted after paper piecing together enough pieces of paper and fabric to cover the face of every mountainside in the country. Though the eagle wall hanging had been completed over several months, it seemed as if twenty years had gone by. My Darling Wife had becomes tired of cutting up and sewing together little pieces and working the puzzle of putting the pieces together correctly. Now that she was finished and glowing from what we both agreed was a job well done, she wanted to rest. But, as every quilter knows, rest and rest-for-a-dedicated-quilter are two different things. In her case, it was more like twelve different things. To prevent herself from falling apart, she tried walking more often; she tried watching television for more than twenty minutes at a time; she tried going back to the kitchen and cooking and baking-even reading, but after half a day she started getting restless.

"I'm restless," she said.

"It's only been half a day," I said. Now that was in my time, real time, not quilter's time.

"I'll just do something easy," she said.

"Are you telling me that, or are you telling yourself that?"

"I've been thinking about a baby quilt," she said.

"You just decided to make a baby quilt?" I asked.

"I've been thinking about it for weeks, but while I was picking out all the paper from the back of the paper piecing, I knew I wanted to do something easy once I finished the eagle and rested up."

"And now you're rested up?"

"I will be when I find a baby."

"Find a baby?" I often say things to her with a question mark attached. It was how we talked about quilting. Sometimes she wasn't really talking to me but to the quilt she was working on at the time. Sometimes she was talking to herself but looked at me when she spoke as if I would be able to understand her and respond appropriately to what she told me or asked me even if I knew that she wasn't really talking to me. Yet, after being around her during the years since she had taken up quilting, either I knew what she was saying or I didn't. If I didn't, she would explain.

"I have to have a baby to give the quilt to," she said.

"But you know who's going to have a baby already," I said.

"I do?" She frowned a puzzled look.

"Gary and Theresa," I said. Our nephew and his wife were expecting. We had known for awhile.

"They should have a boy," she said.

"Why a boy? Do you know something?"

"Gary has two brothers and his father had three brothers-including you--and the odds are that boys will run in his family."

"They're not exact odds," I said. Both his brothers had girls in their families.

"Do you know any different?"

"No, I don't," I said cautiously.

"Well, then."


The eagle was finished and she went to work on her stash. First things first. "I'm going through my stash," she told me.

"For an idea about the quilt?" I asked.

"I already have an idea," she said.

"Yes, you said something about a baby quilt. But you didn't say what kind. Appliqué? Snow ball? Log Cabin?" I was going to list every kind of quilt I knew, but she stopped me.

"Kind of something like that, maybe," she said definitely.

"A unisex quilt?" I asked.

"For a boy until I know differently." I nodded in understanding. "I'm not restless now either," she added.


"No, no, no, no," she said. It was a day later and she had been opening and closing drawers, opening and closing boxes, searching the shelves, and otherwise going through her stash.

"You talking to me?" I asked.

"I can't do it. I want to but I can't."

"Something about your fabric?" I guessed smartly.

"I was saving some for just the right quilt, and this is the right quilt, but I can't."

"You found some fabric you've been wanting to use a long time and you don't want to use it?" I guessed again. Smarter even in my guess. I had witnessed this behavior before.

"All the reproduction fabric we searched for all over the state four years ago."

"You can't bear to cut it up?" I guessed. No, I didn't guess. I knew.

"Would you cut up your heart, your soul?"

"The quilter's dilemma," I said.


"Be brave about it," I said. "It's for a baby."

She swallowed. She shook her head at herself. She shivered. Her eyes darted. "I'll use a little. Just a little of it," she finally said in a tiny voice.

"A little at a time," I said.



She began to quilt and she didn't say another word about the quilt for several days. We went shopping for food and clothes. We tidied up the garden. We went for walks. We watched television. We talked. We ate. We slept. While we were doing what normal people do, she was quilting. At first, she worked away quietly on her baby quilt. But soon, day by day, she became more animated, she smiled more, and she hummed lullabies. On Tuesday evening last week, she broke out in song. "Almost done," she said. "Only the binding left to do," she said, and she winked.


On Wednesday we found out that the baby was going to be a girl. "It was supposed to be a boy," my Darling Wife said as she held the baby quilt in her hand. She had just finished the binding, and though she had insisted the colors could be for either sex, too many people still associated blue with boys and pink with girls. Yellow was neutral, so she played it safe by using yellow as well as the blue. And both were calm and soft enough colors to please any girl.

"Any newborn baby, boy or girl, would love this quilt," I said.

'There're still four months to go, and already she's telling me she wants different colors," the mother of our three children and grandmother of six said.

"They just had the sonogram. I don't think the baby-to-be said anything you could hear, especially not a thousand miles away." I know a little about prenatal communication. It's usually one-sided. The parents and the world say things to the mother's womb from a safe distance, and the baby-to-be kicks and rolls around in response. At that, everyone jumps with joy at the connection between the baby in the womb and the world.

"Babies can talk about quilts before they're born," my knowing wife said.

"Maybe they can give a message to the mother, but not a great aunt," I said.

"If the quilt pleases me, it will please the mother, and it will please the baby in four months when she sees it."

"The baby will be born and the next minute look at the quilt and say, 'Great colors. Great quilt. Thanks, Great Aunt Joan.'?"

"Something like that," my favorite quilter said.

"This is a nice quilt," she said as she held the quilt up high. "But not for this baby."

"The next baby to come along then?" I asked.

"If it's a boy and if it asks for pinwheels."

"All babies like pinwheels," I said.

"Of course, they do," she said.

"I looked at the quilt. I liked the quilt with the blue and the yellow and the pinwheels. Like my head, they seemed to be spinning and spinning and spinning.


Copyright 2004 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Pinwheels Quilt"


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