Friday, February 28, 2014

By Hand

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I’ve always wanted to do this, to make a quilt the way my old great-great granny in her chair at the hearth made them; by hand, piece by piece, using the scraps from her other projects.  Those are the quilts I really love best anyway, the scrappy, jumbly ones that grew out of necessity and economy.  The less it all matches, the better.  A couple things originating in my basic lazy nature have until now stopped me:  won’t it take forEVer?  [It might.  What’s wrong with that?  I have come to love the idea of a Big Project.] I don’t want to iron all those little pieces before I can cut them out, ugh! [Then don’t.  It’s my quilt, and I can do whatever I want.]  I took charge last week and went shoulder-deep in the scraps bin, which was packed so full that with the first thing I pulled out, it all kind of sprang out onto the floor.  I stuck my arm in there, grabbed out a handful of scraps, and put them in a basket, and decided to make as many two-color nine patch blocks as I felt like making.  I made a 2” square template out of a piece of cardboard, picked up my shears, and started cutting.  There’s no angst in this--I pick out two fabrics that look reasonable together—or not, who cares?—and just cut out the squares, four of one, five of the other, holding the template against the fabric and cutting around it.  No tracing.  No ironing.  Quick and dirty.  Done.  (Of course, I doubt this would work with a bigger template, but 2” is small enough to manage, which is why I’m making 2” squares.)  I sew the pieces together, three strips of three squares, then sew the strips together, pinning at the two seams.  Snip.  Done.  Again.  When there’s a decent pile and I’m done for the day, I iron them, and they are square and true, and my lap is completely coated in little threads.  I’ve made sixty squares like that so far, and it is not taking forever at all, and it is a surprisingly wonderful process.  Cut, stitch, snip, repeat.  There is a lulling beauty in the rhythm of it, and in the cotton, and in the use of two pins only, and in my beat-up, winter-worn hands at work.