I started this quilt in 2014. My original estimate for getting it hand quilted was 4 months. 4 years would have been much closer.
It’s not that I didn’t know it would take work. Each block was about an hour…no matter how efficient I got at it, I had to re-thread a certain number of times, turn the whole quilt, shift positions, etc. It took an hour no matter how much I tried to reduce the time.
My husband approached and asked, “So if you’re going to quilt by hand, why do you have an expensive machine?”
Please. Between the time I started this quilt and the time I finished it (yikes, I still need a label!) I completed countless other projects using my “expensive” machine.
Why do anything by hand? Why bake bread when you can pull it off a store shelf? Why paint a picture when you can capture it all on a cell phone? Why talk to anyone in person when you can text? Why walk down the street, for heaven’s sake, when you can get in your car and be there in no time? Why grow a tomato at home when you can get it at any store, or, more virtuously, at the farmer’s market?
I’m not old-fashioned. I love my technology. I use it to the hilt. While I’m typing at this very moment, I’m also listening to Harry Connick Jr on Pandora. (OK, maybe that’s a little old-fashioned.)
But doing things with our hands teaches us something. It teaches us patience. It teaches us that all the products around us take energy, resources and time to produce. It teaches us to respect process, and maybe, just maybe, to recognize our culture’s love of instant gratification.
If someone had told me when I started this quilt that I wouldn’t finish it for three years, and along the way I would face life and death and sorrow and joy and pain and frustration, I would have told them no thanks. I want things to stay peaceful and uneventful.
Instead, I put it into the stitches. That’s what we do, you know…those of us who try to do things by hand from time to time. We put the tears, the laughter, the anger, the frustration, the love, the humility and all the emotions right there into the work.
But I don’t have to tell you that. If you’re a quilter, you already know it.