Ok, so you’ve seen this project before. I know… more than once. 🙁 I’m talking about my oldest UFO, which in May will turn 10 years old.
(Actually, May will also mark the 10-year anniversary of my life as a professional quiltmaker, designer and teacher. I took up quilting as a hobby in 1995 and became so passionate about it that in 2004 I quit my career as a professional translator/conference interpreter to become a full-time quilt designer and teacher.)
I started this particular quilt with the intention of showing it in the exhibit that launched my professional quilting career. I had taken five months to work on 50 pieces for the exhibit, and this was to be the last one. Sadly, because I had intended to hand quilt it, it obviously didn’t make the deadline. It lay neatly folded and put away for years. In 2010 I finally pulled it out, sandwiched it, and prepared to hand quilt it. It was to have been my project during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In my defense, the tournament was exciting and too entertaining to take my eyes off the TV set! 🙂 So I ended up tucking the unfinished quilt back in the cupboard.
I then pulled it out again in 2012 – this was my Thursday project when my sewing circle met, and I really did think I would finally finish it. But hand quilting does take time, and towards the end of the year I had to tuck it away again, as I prepared to pack and move to a new place. And, as you have heard me “gripe” about this before, setting up a comfortable work space in this new house was quite a challenge, so the quilt continued to be packed away, and very little sewing has taken place over the last year.
This quilt WILL be finished this year! 🙂
It’s in the hoop again, and I have been quilting it off and on over the past week. And it has been a good exercise. When I first took up quilting, I had an old sewing machine with a straight stitch and no special feet. So hand quilting was the obvious choice for finishing projects. With time, new machines have come into my life, and with them machine quilting, to the point where I don’t remember when I last picked up needle and thread for a hand sewing project.
True, you can accomplish more with machine sewing. However, maybe now and then it is good to slow down a bit and enjoy the process. This week has been a reminder of how I got started. And the truth is that stitching and piecing a quilt top together were just the preliminary steps to the part of quilt making I enjoyed the most. And that was hand quilting.
Hand quilting designs are not usually as intricate or “grandiose” as machine quilting designs. But there is something about the repetitive motion that is soothing and had always been a way of stilling my spirit and helping me make time to meditate. I always felt that quilting was a spiritual practice… each stitch a prayer, a song, a blessing sent out to the universe. Not a bad practice, wouldn’t you say? Maybe I should always have some project going in my quilting hoop!
More than a year has gone by in this new place. Adapting has not been easy. Today the weather is pretty much the same as a year ago. And you’ll remember how much I complained about the cold. Yes, it is another cold, wet, gray day in this part of the northern highlands of Ecuador.
The difference? Perhaps my attitude.
Having a fireplace is a blessing. Other than the rain on the roof, and the crackle of the fire, it is peaceful and quiet. Rather a perfect day to relax and enjoy a little hand quilting, wouldn’t you say? 🙂