Thursday, May 19, 2011

A quilt for me

It starts with an idea.

This idea was, I need a quilt at Giants games. The last game I attended was FREEZING cold. The Giants sell fuzzy blankets with neon orange and probably do a pretty good business just keeping folks from getting hypothermia. But boy are they ugly.

This next week they are even doing a promotion of a wearable blanket...also neon ugly orange. I was tempted to buy tickets for the wearable blanket game, just to have something to keep me warm. Then the idea struck...a giant quilt.

Quilting is something I used to do a lot of. I love the process.

You start by finding a pattern or designing one that might suit your needs. For this quilt I wanted something not as long as a twin quilt, not as wide as a queen quilt, certainly BIGGER than a baby quilt. I found a pattern for a 61" x 61" quilt titled, Strip Piece Puzzle. Next you pick your fabrics. NO question about it, this quilt needed two (maybe three) colors.... BLACK and ORANGE and a hint of white. It needed one spotlight fabric that would tie it all together.

There is a great quilt shop in Petaluma called the Quilted Angel. I love this place. The fabrics they have are so far superior to our local fabric store "Joanne's" But they are at least 2 to 3 times more expensive. I decided to do the majority of the piecing with fat quarters (18"x 21" pieces) that I bought from Joanne's. But for the spotlight fabric I made the trek to Petaluma.

I surveyed the fabrics like a starving kid in a candy store. If you have ever quilted you CANNOT avoid being inspired here. Walking through the fabrics I came up with a dozen more quilts I wish I could do... but today I settled on a slightly batik black, orange and brown design.

After I bought the fabric, I headed out for a walk in Petaluma. This town has had a lot of great changes in the past few years, but it still retains is small town feeling. I was enjoying looking at a few of the new buildings when as I walked across the cross walk a BMW came screeching to a stop 10 inches from my leg.

I know I am training for the 3 day - 60 mile walk for a cure. But I don't think it would be a good idea to be hit by a car. It kind of defies the purpose! So after my heart found its place back in my chest, I headed back to the car and back to work.

Since then I have worked on the quilt piece by piece. Cutting out the pieces. Sewing them together. Steaming the seams to the proper sides. The finally piecing the quilt together just like a puzzle. Now I am in the process of machine quilting the quilt. I used to always do this part by hand, but with my new sewing machine I have to give it a try! Certainly it is quicker. I am 1/4 of the way done.

Quilting is something that has always spoken to me.

It is a process that in the beginning seems like it will be too much to handle. There are so many parts to it. The time can seem overwhelming. But I found in quilting you get it done by focusing on the next step, not the whole quilt. You work one piece at a time. You don't rush. You finish a quilt if you manage to put one piece together with the next. What you end up with is a finished piece of art - an expression of yourself.

To me this is so similar to almost any big task. Certainly this is true of the 3 day walk. Focus on the step in front of you. Focus on the miles you will be walking today. Had I not be alright with walking only 1 mile, I would never have walked 60. Our lives are full of choices we make.

Do we let the enormity of our future keep us from living today? Do we find an excuse behind every turn, because the journey is too daunting, and we are afraid to fail? Or do we get up in the morning and just do what we can do that day. Then the next day do we do just a little more.

The people who have achieved great things in this world understand this. They never wake up and expect the world to present itself as a gift, they understand the world is already a gift, but we need to do something before we can enjoy it. We need to pick it up, open it up and live it.

The GIANTS quilt is a symbol to me of never giving up. It is a symbol on building on what you have been given and making the most of it. It will keep me warm on evenings of torture. It will remind me what beauty we can create when we go one piece at a time.