Friday, July 15, 2011

All Is Safely Gathered In

When I was a young mother I moaned to MY mother about how I never got anything done.  The laundry always piled up;  sometimes as quickly I as I could move it from the dryer, fold it and put it in the drawers, it would be used, dirtied and find its way back to the blue plastic mesh basket in front of the washer.  Meals were a never-ending story and I resorted to “closing the kitchen” just so I could get the breakfast dishes washed and put away before it was time to haul out the peanut butter and jelly for lunch.  The bathrooms always needed to be cleaned, the floor rarely seemed to be free of crumbs or sticky places.  And those sticky places migrated from floor to doorknobs, to car handles, to walls.  If I could have strapped on the 409 in a giant backpack, squirting and wiping as I went I MIGHT have conquered the dirt.  Just maybe.  I began quilting because I wanted a “bedspread” (what we called it then) for my bed, however I soon saw the advantage of quilting: it stayed done.  I didn’t have to resew a seam as it didn’t unpick itself in the night.  The patches would still be there, done, when I was ready to assemble them into a quilt.  And then somewhere this stitching and patching and quilting took a turn and became my art, my way of expressing creativity.

I think I moaned to mother for years and years. Then the children grew up, the bathrooms needed cleaning only once a week, then the children left.  Dishes rarely pile up and sticky places don’t spring up like mushrooms overnight.  The dust and dirt of housework and I have made our peace with each other, leaving lots of room around my job as am adjunct college professor (English) to happily spend time cutting and sewing and creating quilts.

But there’s this healthy strain of ADHD in my family, and I can easily flit from pile of fabric to pile of fabric.  My intention was to take stock each Friday, slow down and commend myself on whatever I had accomplished in order to notice my work, to smile and be aware that I completed that which I set out to do.  To reap a little harvest from the sowing (sewing, too) that I had done earlier.

So, today, here is the quilt I just finished: All Is Safely Gathered In, a quilt about sowing and harvesting.  I began this three years ago, trying to work with an original block I’d drafted–simple in design but it carried a nice big punch with those new large-scale prints that we were all investigating.  How to make them work?  Place them right up against each other in nice big squares and shapes–let that fabric shine. When I was casting about for a name, I talked it over with my husband.  How about something about harvest? he asked, and the phrase from a favorite hymn jumped right out at me.  When I was that young overwhelmed mother, I could think of nothing more satisfying than walking around the house at night, the last child in bed, the open book fallen to the floor, the night-light casting its golden glow on the cheeks and hair of these children who kept me so busy during the day.  I fell in love with them all over again, storing up these feelings of satisfaction every night against the onslaught of the day.  And now, many many years later those children walk their houses at night, picking up the books, bending over to plant a kiss on their children’s soft cheeks.

I sowed children and stitches and tasks uncompleted and time and more time and I am now reaping grandchildren and quilts and houses that don’t get quite as dirty.  While I’m not done, I feel like I have some sense of the law of the harvest.  And it is immensely satisfying, I must say.

I was drawn to not only the Kaffe Fassett fabrics (rich in coloration and detail) but also those of designer Martha Negley and Phillip Jacobs (who designed that border).  I loved making this quilt, but it did take me three and a half years from inception to this stage–awaiting its label on the back.

Photo taken by Judy and stolen from her website

I’m actually doing two labels–this one and the dotty quilt label, titled Come A- Round.

This one's stolen from Judy's website, too.
Here's a picture of that other quilt, unfinished.  Check the quilty blog later, for a photo of the quilt, finished.  Like next week.

But few have spoken of the actual pleasure derived from giving to someone, from creating something, from finishing a task, from offering unexpected help almost invisibly and anonymously.” –Paul Wiener

--This post, in a slightly different form, was published as well on my quilty blog:


Judy said...

Love those pictures of you and your quilts. You look downright JOYFUL.

Donna Smith said...

I can sympathize with the ADHD. I am without the H, but can still get so distracted. I've had to force myself to sew that second baby shoe. And once I knitted one mitten. I flit from one task to another. I figure that once I've done something, I shouldn't have to do it again. I absolutely loved your descriptions of caring for children, cleaning, and how the sewing doesn't undo itself. That must be why we like sewing and beading so much without realizing it. It is something that stays done. It is a task completed for all time, not to be undone and plunked down in front of you again!

alotalot said...

I loved this! I quilt for the same reason: I can walk away and come back to exactly the same place. I have also learned that sometimes things take a long time to finish and that is OK. Some of the ladies who run quilt blogs are cranking them out, one a week! (machine quilted of course) and at times I feel like I am behind! But then I realize that quilting isn't a race. What would I do with 52 new quilts every year anyway? Oh, and my laundry is currently exactly as you described. Sometimes I don't even bother to fold it. I get undressed in the laundry room, and pull clean stuff straight out of the dryer to put on. Pathetic! But that's where I am right now.

JonSp8 said...

These quilts are gorgeous, full of light, color and generosity - much like their creator. Fantastic work!