Thursday, March 11, 2010


A few weeks ago, when the Olympics were in full swing, I decided that I would not sit idly watching tv. I would make my hands busy and create something. It was hard to write while paying attention to the aerial flips and twists of ski jumping and ice skating, so I figured I needed something that would be fairly mindless. I decided to take up quilting again.

I first started quilting back in 2005 when I was living in Arlington, Mass. However, I tried to start quilting in 2002 in Salem, MA. In 2002, I bought a book, fabric, and thread to make a flying geese runner. I still have that fabric (untouched) somewhere. But my commute in Arlington brought me by a fabric store every day, called Fabric Corner. It really was on a corner too. I drifted in out of curiosity, and also because I love fabrics. The feel of different fabrics. The colors of each bolt. The potential.

My love affair with fabric started earlier than that though, when I was about 8 or 9. The neighborhood girls started a sewing club, and we would gather in my friend Emily's room and make pillows and...I think that's all we made. Emily's mom provided the fabric and materials, and we read Archie comics, drank soda, and listened to music while making tiny pillows for our teddy bears. I think I made one for my sister who was in college at the time. It was quite quaint really, looking back on it.

But in 2005 I was looking for a distraction to my life. A method of creating that went beyond writing. Maybe a way to bond with some females, having been out of grad school a few years and trying not to partake in the 5 PM martini hour every night with the gals I did hang out with. It's possible my subconsciousness remembered my childhood sewing club and wanted to recreate it. So I signed up for a quilting class. I ended up not making any friends, but did come away with a really nice twin sampler quilt, a knowledge of pairing fabrics, and the ability to knot a thread in 2 seconds flat perfectly every time. Really, every time.

However, a lot happened in the past 5 years, and while I've made 2 or 3 baby quilts for friends, I haven't done much real quilting since. A promised wedding quilt for another friend was recently found in pieces in a box I hadn't opened since 2007, although I think I can get 6 cool pillows out of it. But, being determined to watch the Olympics and not feel guilty for being lazy (an old Catholic trait I can't shake), I ventured to the fabric store with a baby quilt in mind for my son.

There is one thing about fabric stores that many people don't know. They are time suckers. There are hundreds of bolts of fabrics, and once you find one you like you then have to find another one you like that compliments the first one. Then there is thread selection. Needle selection. Batting selection. And how much fabric do you really need? I've never had trouble finding help in the smaller stores, in fact, the women help too much. You walk in looking for a yard of fabric to cut up then $70 later you walk out with 3 different fabrics, and a new plan of your vision.

I went into A Quilter's Way in Concord, MA and poked around. At least I had a project in mind: a baby quilt. I even had a theme; we had just picked out the nursery bedding that has woodland animals on it. I circled the shop pulling fabrics I liked and tried pairing them together. The women in the shop left me alone for the most part, but I finally called one of them over to ask an opinion. They all descended upon me, one even bringing over a complementary fabric to match the border I had created. $50 later I walked out semi-confident that I could finish the project.

I'm still working on it.