I’ve always been indifferent to the basic Home Ec (as they used to call it) skills. Quilting is different; it’s not like the sewing they tried (unsuccessfully) to teach me in high school. It’s not about right and wrong ways of sewing things, matching plaids and following patterns and hemming perfect hems. It’s about thousands of unique and beautiful quilting fabrics, and colour and line and design and more colour – much of what attracts me to gardening. A hundred shades of lavender. (So many colours are named after flowers.)
What does this have to do with gardening? A lot, probably. It feeds on the same need to bring order to an incomprehensible world, to pretend I’m controlling something - and then continually being surprised by what happens, by a process and an end product that have a life of their own. I have a friend who quilts, who says she can’t start a project until she is sure in her mind of what it is going to look like. I find this amazing – if I could “see” exactly what a quilt was going to look like I wouldn’t bother making it. Most of my quilts – the ones I like the best – are like my favorite corners of the garden – they answer the question “what would happen if…” Creativity, addiction, call it what you will. Soemtimes it`s me asking the question, sometimes it is nature playing with my original plan and making a mockery of it. It`s all good.
The same tendency to NEED verything that affects my gardening style is also evident here. “She who dies with the most fabric wins.” I actually found myself contemplating putting an addition on the house (it’s a small house, really!) so I’d have more room for fabric. My loft, once the sole territory of Josie the cat and boxes of unused Christmas decorations and off-season (and too small) clothing, is now overflowing with rainbows of fabric. Most of them are quilting cotton,s but there are some shirting flannels, fleeces and upholstery fabrics, and a bin of silks and satins. (Josie prefers the Chinese brocades, and I made her a bed out of them so she’ll stay off my works in progress. It turns out that what she REALLY likes is being a nuisance.)
I love batiks, which doesn’t explain the containers full of prints – florals, geometrics, stripes and ombres, dots and florals, nature-based and contermporary, funky and traditional. Clear plastic storage towers are the answer for me - apparently some quilter/collectors have found other systems effective. A friend who is into scrap-bookings laughs, and says the addiction is about sorting things, the actual type of collection is secondary. She has matching bins and books and folders.
My fabric is sorted (rather obsssively) by colour (true blues, turquoise-blues, blue batiks and blue prints…) This falls apart when I have a blue and yellow print, or a simmering batik in blues, green and purples. These things don’t sort well, and it is a useful reminder that most of the world can’t be pigeon-holed that easily.
Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep I head up to the loft and sort fabric, imagining the quilts I can make. (Josie tends to be awake anyway, unlike the dogs who gets sleeepily grump if I am awake and restless, because then they feel they have to be awake too, but they’d really rather not.) A fabulour print crys out for coordinating and contrasting colour – shade and hue and tone matter, as does the size of the pattern. The problems and questions are the same as when I am playing with plants. Why does this work, this one look okay, but this one sing? It’s good for the soul, and after a while I can go back to bed and get some sleep.
Mar. 31, 2012