>> Friday, January 10, 2014
I had forgotten how slippery a ruler could be, how hard I needed to press down to keep it locked into place as I cut fabric. The rotary cutter glided against the edge, and all the sudden, it wasn’t even. It wasn’t that perfect 2 and a quarter inch I sought, I needed, to finish a quilt that had languished for weeks and even months. The quilt, the many pieces of fabric sewn together, just so, says a lot about the past 6 months. Or, rather, its construction does. Or, really, the fits and starts in which it was put together, sewn together, the long slow crawl in which it was constructed, made, shaped into being.
It started in the summer, a new project for a friend’s baby. It started, like most of my projects, with a glimpse of an idea, a passing thought about shapes and color. It started with strips of fabric, hastily thrown together one warm summer night when I needed to sew, when my mind moved faster than my hands. And then it sat, as these things sometimes do, while I took care of the rest of my life. I prepared to teach my own class, I scurried to meet a bevy of early fall deadlines, I marched through a suite of Jewish fall holidays, I prepped materials for the looming job market that inched closer and closer. All the while, a large block sat on my futon, and ideas about what to do with it flitted through my head.
Finally, some breathing room, some space between other obligations, arrived, and I returned to the quilt. I attended several sewing events at Pink Castle Fabrics, used the huge design wall to figure out the real plan for this quilt, learned how to sew a Y-seam to make the ideas I had work, and finally, the quilt top was done. A month later, I pieced together the back, splicing and sewing yardage that coordinated with the front. It came together in an evening and, with more deadlines met, I worked again, basting and quilting and watching as a glimmer of a thought materialized as a quilt. I was almost done. The quilt almost finished. The gift nearly ready to be sent.
And then my world crashed down around me. Not softly, but harshly.
My dad died. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Without warning. It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I was close by, in the metro area for a conference. He was supposed to meet me for lunch and he never made it.
The details of that day aren’t fuzzy. Some elements are impressionistic, but they’re still sharp and painful.
Days marched on, time moved ahead, and we lurched forward, incrementally, taking small and tentative steps into a new world, one whose contours are still unfamiliar and whose boundaries are not yet charted.
It had been 7 weeks since I last touched the quilt, forty-nine days of trying to gather new bearings. I knew I would sew again. Some of the obstacles were merely practical: for long chunks of the past few months, I was away from my stash, from my rulers and cutting mat, from my sewing machine. I glanced at blog posts here and there, I thought about shapes and let ideas percolate. I thought about closing the blog, knowing that my posts had waned long before November 24 and not really sure when I would want to return, if ever. I mentioned this in passing to my brother last week. And he told me to keep it. My brother who may or may not have ever read a blog post told me to keep it. So I did.
Last night I finished the quilt. I’ll wash it soon and mail it and maybe post about it. More likely, truth be told, it will show up on Instagram (you can find me there as two_hippos) and that might be it. Or I may squeeze out time from dissertation-writing-winter and post about it here. I'm not yet sure, but I'll figure it out.