This week’s exercise inspired me to pull out a quilt I have been working on for over 10 years. My kids dubbed it the ‘Forever Quilt’ a long time ago, it just keeps going year after year. However it has been quite a while since I last worked on it.
This was the first quilt I made for myself and the first where I had a vision that was not referenced by a quilt pattern I had seen anywhere. It is based on a piece of cast metal flipped and rotated to make the shape of the central panel. This was carefully cut out of one piece of fabric with ultra-sharp embroidery scissors and the rest was added to as the years went by – which may explain why the design is a little piecemeal. The whole thing is done in needle-turn applique, which is probably the slowest process known to mankind.
Which gets me to the point. Jane’s words reminded me of the immense feeling of calm I had while I was sewing this quilt. I worked on it exclusively for quite a long time as I needed ‘me time’ and the stitch, stitch, stitch routine I developed for a couple of hours every night were meditative and satisfying. The progress was slow but consistent and strangely I found that as I grew closer to the end I slowed the pace because I was reluctant for it to finish. I added the borders and continued the methodical stitching and was genuinely sad when the final piece was sewed down. To prolong it a little further I decided that the self-pattern on the outer border fabric wasn’t distinct enough so I painted over each stroke with gold paint – again some preparation and experimentation then a mechanical, meditative process.
I have since been quilting it, foolishly also by hand. Foolish because I have moved on and there is still a lot to do (it’s about 60 inches wide), but I feel it needs the handwork to make it complete. Sadly it spends longer and longer in the WIP pile. As I pulled it onto my lap last week it was a nice reminder to slow down sometimes and enjoy the experience of a slow-cooked quilt. I am so agitated to build my experience with surface design that I am in danger of losing my connection with the joy of stitching.
However it has also reminded me that it has been right for me to move on. I don’t think I have time to spend 10 years on quilts any more (I’m in my late 50s) and I love the spontaneity of dabbling in thickened dye and machine applique. I guess my next step will be to bring the two together.
Btw, the writing at the top is Hindi, from a Bollywood song. I was learning Hindi a few years ago and had my teacher translate a line which I thought appropriate “Oh, may I not go insane!”