Grandma's Cuddle Scrappy Rail


"Yes! Yes!" she said as she came down from her sewing room. It was early afternoon, and it was too soon for her to be leaving the sanctity of her castle where she and her quilts spent every afternoon. Of course there is the morning time and the evening time, but this is about the early afternoon time.

"Are you yelling about something or just thinking about your upcoming birthday?" Her birthday was still over a month away, but she planned early.

"I'm out of projects," she said. "Yeseroo!"

"Yes-what?" I asked. Now, I am well used to her exclamations after years and years of living with her, especially those sounds she made since she took up quilting, but this was a new one.

I finished the baby quilt and I finished the wall hanging. In fact, Dear, Sir, I've finished all my WIPS and UFO's and now I am a free woman."

"Congratulations. So, now what?" I knew there was to be a "now- what" answer coming up. It was just the way she was. Though I have at times wondered if all quilters lived in a twelfth dimension as she did, I tended always to doubt it..

"Now I get to look for a new project," she said.

"But you hate not having a project," I said. She did. Torture, drowning in quicksand, falling out of a plane at ten thousand feet, none of these compared to the pain of not having a project ready.

"I'm maturing," she said. "I don't sweat the small stuff."

"You've been maturing for close to 70 years," I said. How mature did she expect to be on her birthday?

"I have some N-S-Y's to think about," she said.

"NSY's?" I asked. I didn't even want to begin to try to guess at what that meant. But as she was smiling as she spoke, I had to hope it wasn't anything bad or evil or anything that would involve me in going to a quilt shop with her in the near future.

"Not Stared Yet," she said. She capitalized the words with her voice. "I have a lot of quilts I've thought about in the past but never got around to doing," she said.

"For clarity," I said cautiously, "could you give me an example?"

"I found some flannel in my closet that I cut up years ago when I was thinking of making a split rail quilt, but I never started it.

"Split rail? Like in Abraham Lincoln splitting logs, like a split rail fence?" Did I want to know?

"I'll show you when it's done."

"When are you going to start?"


"And in the meantime?" I asked. I've always been puzzled by an expression such as "meantime." How long is meantime? Is the meantime between two times, one at either end? Right now I feel lazy. Tomorrow I will be lazy. In the meantime? I'll be lazy.

"In the meantime I'll think about whether I want to do what I once wanted to do or do something different."

"That's worth thinking about. It will be a quilt, won't it?"

"I've decided to make a scrap quilt."

"Just now? What about the rails you have to split?"

"Maybe that. That's why I have to think about it. In the meantime, you should think about dinner."

"I'm sure it will be a fine quilt," I said. Then I thought about dinner. She went up to her sewing room.

"Yes!" she said.


"The flannel is cheap and flimsy and it stretches, so I can't do what I want to do. I'll do something else.," she said. We were walking through our nearby park, watching small children slide down the slides.

"You told me it was colorful and soft," I said.

"It is, but I don't want to make a quilt that won't hold up when it's used and washed and thrown around a lot."

"Are you planning to do that to the quilt?"

"No, of course not. I'm making a soft colorful quilt for someone who will probably want this quilt to cuddle in and play with and keep warm in during the winter."

"So, what's the problem. Why all the turmoil? Are you falling to pieces in indecision?"

"I'm not having any problem. And I've decided again to make a scrap quilt."

"You have plenty of scraps," I said.

"More than I thought."

"So what about your split fingernails?"

"Split rail," she corrected.

"I remember you telling me that."

"It's going to be a scrappy split rail."

"Is that a traditional pattern?" Sometimes, when I asked her about a quilt and why it was called what it was called, she said she didn't know and that it was just a traditional pattern. Sometimes I think that "Traditional" person must have been quite a quilter.

"It'll be fine and look fine," she said in a tone that dismissed me for the moment. If I had any other questions, they would have to wait. She was already walking faster, ahead of me, eager to get back home and to her scrappy railing quilt. I was glad she had a reason to hurry.


Time tiptoed by. Then it walked, and then it ran. Two weeks later she said, "Yes!"

"I'm not going to ask," I said.

"I'm done."

"You've been cooking long enough?" I asked.

"Do you want to see it?"

"Of course." Whenever she finished a quilt, and I knew that was what she had done, she always asked me if I wanted to see the finished product. I never said no. If I had, she would have shown me anyway, and I might have had some harm done to my frail and fragile body. I was smarter than that.

"Show me."

"It's a scrappy-split-rail-scrap quilt," she said as she unfurled the rolled quilt in front of me. I looked at it for twenty-two seconds before she interrupted my gaze.


"Well, if I ever need to keep warm and cuddle up and roll around in something warm and colorful," I'll know where to go."

"It's not for you," she said."It's for my sister so she can cuddle with her grandchilren when they visit her in the cold, cold, winter."

"I should have known," I said. "So where are the split rails?"

"How about if I."

"I'm just trying to learn more about quilts, Ma'm," I said. She looked at me. I changed the subject. "So, what are you going to quilt next? Another NSY?"

"No, probably a SN."

"An S-N?" I began to ask, but then I knew. Something New. Yes!




Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Scrappy Rail" Quilt

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