November is a busy month.
A big service project at school. The first yearbook deadline. Quarter grades. Thanksgiving coming up, plus a birthday or two to keep it spicy.
It also marks the anniversary of two not-so-great events for me--my back surgery in 1999, and--most importantly--my mother-in-law's death in 1998.
She was a quilter. A capital-q Quilter. An artist by training and avocation, she had more ideas for quilts in a day than most of us have ideas, period. On any topic.
When I joined the family, first as M's girlfriend, then fiancee, then wife, I used to joke that I married him so I could learn to quilt from her. You see, quilts were once my creative obsession. In 6th grade I subscribed to a quilting magazine. I made a yo-yo quilt in high school, sewing each gathered circle by hand. I don't know what it was about quilting, about patchwork that obsessed me, but like most things I am passionate about, I threw myself in headfirst and barely came up for air for years. The only thing that stopped me was lack of equipment.
I had a sewing machine, and my mom had taught me the basics of sewing. But quilting, a more specialized discipline, has as much stuff to it as does skiing, or mountain biking, or model railroads. Lots of gadgets and gizmos, and I as a high-schooler and then college student, just didn't have the wherewithal or resources.
R bought me my first (and, still, only) rotary cutter, fancy-pants ruler, and my first cutting mat. She let me "shop" through her boxes and boxes of fabrics, left over from when she owned a sewing/quilting shop.
And, more valuable than any of that stuff, she gave me the gift of several idyllic days working together on projects. She let me cut things apart and sew them together (badly, at first, of course). She initiated me into the art of chain piecing, and where you can (and can't ) cut corners. And when the pain from her treatments got too bad and she needed to lie down, she directed me and visited with me and forgave my bad seams from the couch.
I'm definitely a more persnickety quilter than she was--she loved the thrill of the chase, and I am a perfectionist (another reason why I like knitting better, but that's another essay). But one thing's for sure, these babies of mine would have blankets coming out of their ears by now, if their Grandma R were still with us.
So, in honor and to remember the ten years we've all had to do without her love, laughter, quilts, and wicked Turkey Tacos, my sister in law and I sat down last weekend and pieced this for my daughter; the dark blue fabric comes from Grandma R's fabrics:
(please forgive the yoga mat and bad cameraphone photo.)
I think she'd be proud.
And I'll post better photos once the whole thing is quilted. Then it'll be back to the sweater. I promise.
PS: all you ladies out there--is it time for your mammogram? Because if R had had one sooner, I might have pieced this in her presence rather than in her honor. I'm just saying.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
November is a busy month.