Monday, March 14, 2011

Deja Ventures Into Quilting

Remember the friend who made the miraculous quilt? She's teaching me to quilt, too.  I thought I was just going to learn to use the sewing machine I got for Christmas, that maybe we'd make a skirt or something equally simple, but when we got to fabric store, E had a plan.  "A quilt," she said, "is the best way to learn to sew. All straight lines."  And so we picked out fabric, went back to my house, and while the husbands played guitars and talked about music, and sweet potatoes roasted in the oven, we cut out little squares and spread them out according to a chart that E drew up in about ten seconds.  This is what it looked like, spread out (with cat).

(This is the thing about cats: they seem to get quilts.  When you even suggest you might make one, they know we're dealing with a potential blanket right off, and commence utilizing it.)

I found something fascinating once I got the hang of putting those rows together and pressing my foot on the pedal: I couldn't stop.  I turned on a trashy movie (read: romantic comedy) and kept going long after Sam had gone to bed.  In the morning, I only wanted to get back to quilt time.  And within an easy 24 hours (with its share of distractions) I had finished the top.  We went back early in the week to get the border and back, and by week's end, I was done. 

I don't know what it is about quilting, and we'll see how future projects go (a quilt for Sam is nigh unto done), but I think I'm in love.  I love the purr of the machine, the press of the pedal.  I love that I feel like I'm improving something, making something, being homemake-y even, creating beauty, and I don't have to clear space in my brain for it like I do when I'm trying to write.  I have something at the end of the day that isn't undone, that lasts, that I can use for heaven's sake. 

And another thing I like, maybe what I like most about quilting: my quilt was full of mistakes, full full full of them.  My squares weren't perfect squares, my seams weren't perfect seams, there were folds where there shouldn't be folds, my attempt at binding was sort of a joke, and I once sewed an entire row to the wrong side of the next row.  I panicked about this at first, fretted and (I think) even apologized out of habit (I'm a chronic apologizer).  E stopped me, said, "Deja, listen, this thing, this sewing thing?  It's not the sort of activity you have to be perfect at.  Fabric is forgiving.  Your quilt will be beautiful, you'll see." 

[the finished product]
[the soft back]
If you'll forgive me for saying so, I think she was right. It turned out more beautifully than I could have dreamed. I take no real credit for it. Remember, I made all of the mistakes, and E was an insanely good teacher who walked me through every step. But I'm grateful to have something like this exist, something so full of mistakes, and yet beautiful. I'm thinking, I'm thinking that a quilt is a hopeful thing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Converting a Skeptic

In the days leading up to Valentine's Day, I had a sense that I wanted to do something nice for Sam, something a bit sentimental, but I wasn't entirely sure how he'd take it.  He doesn't seem the sort.  And when I asked him casually about it, he confirmed that he indeed was not the sort.  "Valentine's Day," said Sam, "is for girls."  He claimed he didn't expect anything, indeed didn't want anything, that girls invented the holiday  so they could have an extra birthday, etc.  And in his defense, he really came through.  He sent me a beautiful bromeliad, which arrived at work with a gorgeously-written card, and then came and visited me and we went for a spontaneous dinner out (we'd planned to be wise and eat at home, since we'd eaten out in a V-day way over the weekend). 

Somewhere in there, I just decided to do it, to do the romantic thing I'd been considering, which was to find a series of short love poems or excerpts from love poems, print them up pretty, and scatter them around the house.  (Some of them (most of them?) are unconvential love poems ...) While he slept on the night of the 14th, I set to work cutting and pasting and deciding where to place the poems: on the microwave? inside his shoes?  under the lid of his laptop?  I had a lovely time placing them, thinking of him, loving him with every swatch of tape. 

And you know? He loved them.  He went around the house the next morning counting them, trying to collect them all, and said he was moved by them, more moved than he expected to be.  And he's saved them, peeled them from their positions and used them to decorate his office.  Sometimes it's good to not worry about how a kind impulse will be received, and just to just do the thing I'm thinking of.  Sometimes it's good to be as mushy as I please. 

Love you, Sam.