Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I keep losing the point(s)

About ten days ago, when I was in the can't-handle-unstructured-time funk that I get into whenever there's a break from work, I decided (probably on my way up the stairs--it was a five-second decision) that making a quilt would perk me up. I've had batting and backing for a child-size quilt in my stash for almost a year now--I bought it thinking that I was going to make a quilt for my niece, Imogen, back when she was a newborn, and then I heard that my brother and sister-in-law had received a ton of quilts, so I gave up on the plan before I did any work on it.

I always regret the decision to make a quilt, mostly because my interest in the project dies long before I'm even 2/3 done with the work, but also because I'm simply not that good a quilter. I hate projects that take a long time, so I've never even made a quilt the old-fashioned way--I always strip-piece them--and even so, it takes too long for me. My other big problem with quilts is that (perhaps because I strip piece) I always end up cutting the points of the squares off when I'm assembling blocks or large triangles. I was so determined not to let this happen again, but of course, it did.

Anyway: ten days have gone by, and I'm almost done with quite a nice little quilt for Astrid's bed. Yes, the quilt is largely pointless, but it's a nice melange of purples, blues, greens, and tea colors. Elliot helped me arrange the half-blocks (cut on the diagonal), and he also helped me pin the quilt top, batting, and backing together. Best of all (from his perspective), I've let him start learning how to use the sewing machine--he got to sew for two lengths of the quilt. He will also help me hand-quilt a design in the center of the quilt (which is made of the same purple I used for the backing--I found myself one block short, so I turned a square of purple into a parallelogram--it looks almost intentional, as my husband kindly put it). Elliot's involvement is great on several levels: I'm obviously delighted (and a little nervous) about his interest in learning how to use the machine, and it's great to spend the little bit of extra time with him at the sewing machine. But it also reminds me of the last time I made a quilt--yes, pointless--which was during the last six weeks of my pregnancy with Astrid.

That quilt was for Elliot: it marked a change of family status for him, as he was about to become a big brother and was preparing (very resistantly) to move from his little bedroom into a bigger room that had been his father's home office. As a way of easing the transition, he picked out the fabrics for the quilt that would go on his new "big kid bed." At five-and-a-half, he was too young to do any real work on the quilt, but he loved having me ask him how I was making the quilt. The answer: "With love in every stitch." He needed a lot of reminders about his importance in the family.

I also like thinking about that quilt, and about the events that (sadly) link it to Astrid's new quilt. I started Elliot's quilt in the weeks leading up to the US invasion of Iraq, so some of the symbols hand-quilted on that one reflected the family's hopes that there wouldn't be a war. The invasion started about two weeks after Astrid's birth--I will always remember being up with her all night and listening to Anne Garrels' NPR reports from Baghdad. Tonight, as I guided Elliot's hands on my sewing machine, I considered the address that Bush was making that minute about his decision to escalate the war (we weren't watching it), and I wondered what would be happening the next time I decide to make a quilt. (Maybe Elliot will make the next quilt in our house....)

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