Day 77, Staying at Home
Monday, June 8, 2020; Fort Smith, Arkansas
For two weeks I’ve been mulling over a dozen quilting projects. I pulled them out from storage under my bed thinking this is the perfect time to get back to quilting.
Which do I want to attack first? Which need to go on the back burner? What additional fabrics do I need to pull from my stash or buy? What patterns will work best for collections of fabrics I collected many years ago?
My decision? With a couple of exceptions, I don’t think I will do any of them. It’s hard to admit it, but I think the quilting season of my life has ended. In fact, it probably ended several years ago.
I clearly remember a day in my early 30s when I walked into a small quilting shop near my home. I wanted to make a quilt. Just one. It was as if I had been handed a list of things to accomplish and this was next. After making a quilt, I would move on.
Little did I know that quilting would become a passion. I quilted profusely, keeping some but giving away most. Along the way I formed close friendships with my small quilting group.
After moving to Texas I continued quilting with a new group. I made small quilts for wall hangings, babies and laps, and larger ones for beds.
I machine sewed most, but I also made by hand a king-size double wedding ring quilt for my parents and a baby quilt for my nephews.
I loved buying fabrics, and my growing stash filled bookshelves in a guest room dedicated to quilting.
When I moved from my house six years ago, I realized that I would never live long enough to use all that fabric. I sold or gave away most of it, put my sewing table into storage and boxed my favorite fabrics and projects to store for the future.
And that’s about when the quilting season of my life actually ended. I just didn’t realize it until now.
I always thought I would get back to quilting. So when I recently came to stay with my sister in Arkansas, I brought it all with me — eager to return to an earlier passion.
But the projects aren’t inspiring me. A few that are half complete hold no interest. I’ll never finish them. For years I collected small pieces of floral fabric for a modern Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, but when I look at the collection now it just doesn’t come together. I have a fun fabric of undersea reef life, but the fabrics I planned to use with it now seem obviously too bright to make a pleasing quilt.
And so it has goes. As I consider each project, I find reasons it won’t work instead of energy to make it work. I like the planning but don’t want to put the work into completion. This process has been frustrating. But I am finally realizing that I’ve moved on.
I may not even finish the appliqué quilt top I started 25 years ago. I only have a couple of blocks of the 20 to go, and I’ve probably put hundreds of hours into it so far. But even if I put minimal effort into finishing the top and then paid someone to quilt it, I’m not sure what I would do with it. I don’t think the work or the finished quilt would “bring me joy.”
I will finish a quilt top I promised to a friend a decade ago. I’ll pay someone to quilt it as well as the sample quilt top I pieced from exchange blocks made by my New Jersey quilting group.
Speaking of those friends, while quilting we bonded over illnesses, marriages, divorces, career challenges, growing families and the deaths of loved ones. A local newspaper featured us in an article tied to the opening of “How To Make An American Quilt.”
But now those relationships belong to that season, not this one. I’ve stayed in touch through social media with only one. The other friendships didn’t survive the distance of the years, my move to Texas or our changing life interests.
That’s the nature of life, I think. As we move from one interest or passion or even place to another, we naturally make new friends. For years some of my closest friends were fellow sailors, then sports car enthusiasts, and now people like me who love long cruises. With recent summers in Chicago I’ve added writers and urban sketchers.
Many friendships fade over time as we drift apart. Some do survive, and I’m glad I make the effort to stay in touch with them as well as my closest friends from high school, college, work and neighborhoods. I like to think my drive to maintain friendships is one of my superpowers. But you can’t hang on to all of them. Just as the seasons change, so do my interests, my passions and even some friendships.
So I’m gradually coming to peace with letting go of quilting. After all, I now have all those beautiful watercolor paints to put to use. But meanwhile, whatever will I do with all this fabric?