Friday, March 13, 2009

preparing to quilt

I've been thinking about quilts lately. As part of being a grownup lady crafter I went to the La Conner quilt museum with Rachel last week. It is in a victorian mansion similar to the "castle" where Lindsay and I gave tours as teenagers. They had a lovely exhibit of textiles from india and pakistan on the second floor. I am forgetting the names of the techniques. I stood in front of these plain sheets of fabric that were transformed by hundreds, thousands, millions of small stitches. Some of it was fancy like needle lace, but most amazing to me were these simple tiny straight stitches. The devotion to the thread just about broke my heart open.

When I was in Quinault last month I got to sleep under my favorite quilt. The very basic square pattern dances with these charming scraps of fabric. I always forget to write down who made it when. It does have my dad's name(or is it his father's?) on a little tag on the back. When Rachel talks about her granny quilting and I feel like I missed out on something big.I didn't get a chance to learn these skills from the grandmother generation. And my own mother is of the progressive generation that turned away from the tyranny of women's work handcrafts.
Every time Rachel and I look at quilts she is adamant about the importance of hand quilting, versus machine stitching through the layers. And so I am preparing to do my first hand quilting project, a little sampler of sorts. I am intimidated by how long it will take, yet seeing these quilts I feel like it will be a great slow communion across generations and around the world.My hope is that I won't get caught up in the tedious idea of perfection. But it is a fine line, a subtle attitude difference between the chore of fine handiwork and the grace of a peaceful precision. we'll see how I do with this practical meditation.

1 comment:

audible said...

It doesn't have to take long- if you're willing to start small. Children's or afghan sized quilts can be finished pretty quickly.

I'm sure what ever you choose it'll be lovely.