Wrestling with Angels

>> Monday, April 11, 2011

Great friends know how to make you laugh and know just the right way share information. Last winter, Claire emailed me with the subject heading "your quilting" and a message that read "makes me want to have a baby. Seems like a good enough reason, no? ;-)" She then clarified that she was not actually pregnant, and the whole exchange made me smile: it's a good friend who can take information and package it just right, in this case knowing that I'm not a baby person but love making baby quilts.

In fact, for me, making baby quilts is a form of processing, a way of getting used to the idea that my friends are having children because, as my real-life friends know, yours truly is not a baby person. I've learned that this approach to quilting and thinking is not necessarily something that makes sense to people who think newborns are the most adorable things on this planet. I recognize that this puts me in a tiny minority, but it is what it is. I was therefore deeply grateful to Claire for calling me to tell me her news before I came to see her as it gave me time to get used to it.

In addition, Claire and Michael named their son Jacob Samuel, and their drash, or exegesis about his name, discussed the ways in which both biblical namesakes wrestle, literally and figuratively, internally and externally, with multiple ways of being, living productively in tension with who they are and who they want to be. As Michael wrote, "little Jacob, the biblical Jacob is not 'my guy' because of his triumphs and successes – he is “my guy” because he faces real struggles and has real shortcomings.  He tries and fails, and tries again." Both strive imperfectly for peace and pathos, but persistence in the pursuit is what matters most.

Jewish custom surrounding childbirth differs significantly from American traditions: wait until after the first trimester to announce someone is pregnant, don't buy stuff or prepare a nursery, don't hold baby showers, don't call the child by name until after the bris (ritual circumcision) or naming. None of this is mandated by religious law, but rather stems from a mixture of pragmatism and spiritualism: don't be presumptuous about what will happen and don't let evil spirits have a chance to intervene. Painting what will be the child's room seems to be a common boundary among many people I know: paint ahead of time but leave everything else until later. In this case, I knew that Claire and Michael had selected yellow, and I made this quilt with a yellow room in mind. I used a modified version of Ashley's rectangle-squared block. I adjusted the width to maximize the use of a Hello Betty retro  layer cake I had and thought would look great in a yellow room.

I used some remnant squares on the back, along with Laura Gunn's Tile Mosaic in Turquoise (from her Lantern Bloom collection). I love the subtle pattern of the turquoise print, with its hints of brown, orange, and cream. I free-motion quilted it, and bound it with a solid chocolate brown. When I made the quilt, I thought of the strip along the back as the "top." But when I prepared to add a label, I decided one of the solid squares in the strip would be a perfect spot, at which point the strip migrated from top to bottom. Of course, as the picture shows, there's no real top and bottom, and the quilt can lie any which way.


torie April 11, 2011 at 11:46 PM  


Your quilting does not make me want to have another baby, though. I have enough.

Anonymous April 12, 2011 at 9:05 AM  

Who needs a baby with those fabulous colors! I want that for myself!

It's kind of nice to run into someone who is a professed non-baby person. Although I have two of my own I was never really a kid person and it seems unPC to say so.

In the quilt I'm doing the sashing is my least favorite. What does one block look like in this quilt? Love the backside, too!


Anonymous April 12, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Love it!


Karissa April 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM  

Looks fantastic! Also, I too am a non-baby person, but I do enjoy making baby things--I think it's the small scale that makes them so satisfying. That or it gives me an excuse to make more softies, which I love! Great job--and I love that Laura Gunn print on the back. SO much more than a solid!

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