Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In which we discuss my deep-seated psychological issues

Yesterday I left you guessing as to whether I really might have inherited that crafty gene. Well, last winter I made one last-ditched attempt to find out. You can judge for yourself.

First I have to tell you that there is a quilt store near my house that is one of the loveliest places ever. Not only is it one of the best quilt shops in the country, it is run by two of the nicest ladies you will ever meet. Beth and Docia are knowledgeable, hospitable, and oh-so-wonderful. They make you feel like you are the most special person who ever jingled the little bell on the door of their shop.

I found The Quilt Merchant quite by accident. I had received a post card from them in the mail, and since my mom was scheduled for a visit and is an avid quilter, I decided I’d take her there to check it out. I knew I’d be bored to tears, but I’d do anything to show my mom a good time and hopefully lure her back for another visit.

Needless to say, she fell in love. With the shop—and with Docia and Beth. Now, every time Mom comes to town, we have to stop in to say hello and to make a purchase or two. I actually think she looks forward to seeing them more than me!

Last fall, on one of Mom’s visits and one of our jaunts to the quilt shop, I did something really stupid. I got caught up in the mystique of the shop—the beautiful fabrics, the peaceful music, the promise hope of a completed project—and signed up for a beginners quilting class. I had had a long, hard fall and decided that this was just what I needed to pass the long, dreary days of winter.

As soon as I signed up I had second thoughts. What was I thinking? I don’t have the crafty gene. My sister has that, not me. I won’t be able to do this. This is WAY beyond my comfort level. And besides, everyone in the class will laugh at me. And my teacher . . . well, she’ll figure me out right away and kick me out of the class. Really, what was I thinking?

But I went to the first class and kind of enjoyed it. Actually, I was the youngest in the class by about 20 years, so that part made me feel good—just the incentive I needed to come back the following week. I sort of had an idea what the teacher was talking about, so I went home and did my homework which, that first week, was to cut out and sew one simple four-square quilt block.

I think I did the block six times before I got it right.

But I went back the second week, and the third, and the fourth. Every week our "homework" was to work on a different block for our sampler quilt, and I felt like I was getting the hang of the quilting thing. Truth be told, I was sort of enjoying it.

The class was eight weeks long, and by the time the final class came I had completed the top of my quilt—16 different blocks complete with sashing, cornerstones, and a border (I talk like I’m an old pro at this, but seriously, I had no idea what those terms meant before I took the class).

The class may have been finished, but my quilt wasn’t. I still had one final thing to do in order to finish my quilt—I had to contact a quilter and have her sew together the backing fabric with the quilt top that I had made.

You would think that would be the easy part, right? But did I make that call? No I did not. I think my deep-seated insecurity about my lack of ability made me put it off. I just couldn’t face the quilt-lady; I knew she would take one look at my quilt and laugh at me for not knowing what I was doing.

So, for the rest of the winter and throughout the spring and summer my quilt top sat in a pile next to my sewing machine (which, by the way, my mother purchased for my daughters to help them find their inner Martha. I call it a mercy machine.). From time to time my mom would ask about the quilt—if I’d finished it or not.

“Oh, you know, not really,” I’d answer evasively, growing more and more embarrassed as the weeks passed.

I intended to finish it. I really did. I guess at this point it’s time to bring in the psychologist to explain to me why I can’t seem to finish a project. What IS IT about me that makes me do that? Or more accurately, NOT do that? ARGH!

Well, last week, in the midst of projects and meetings and lots of homework for my kids and cooking for senior citizens, a package arrived. From my mother. Who lives in Arizona. It came on a day that was incredibly hectic for me and, as I was scrambling to throw together some last-minute snacks for my daughter’s last-minute small group that night, I tossed it into my bedroom to open later.

Much later.

Around 9:00 that night I finally got around to opening the package from my mom. I was putting Maggie to bed and suddenly remembered the package, so I took it into Maggie’s room to open with her.

Whatever Mom had sent to me was wrapped in some ivory fabric, and there was a note on top of it that read: “Shelly, Please don’t be upset that I finished this. It was tired of lying on the floor by the sewing machine! Let the world see this magnificent quilt. Love, Mom”

And inside the ivory fabric was tucked my quilt—all put together with fancy, scrolly quilting. It was . . . it is . . . beautiful.

As much as I wanted to cry when I pulled my quilt out of the box, all Maggie and I could do was laugh because we both knew, deep down, that that quilt would NEVER have gotten finished if Mom hadn’t come to my rescue.

‘How did she get it?’ you’re probably wondering. Well, Mom and Dad came for a visit in September. Apparently she stole it when she was here and took it home with her.

That’s the thing about my mom, she does stuff like that that makes you feel great and humbled and happy and embarrassed all at the same time. She’s wonderful, my mom is.

And so, to honor her request, I am letting the world see my magnificent quilt.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

1 comment:

  1. SHELLY!! This is beautiful!

    And I love that you mentioned the Quilt Merchant. Beth was one of the middle schoolers/high schoolers that used to babysit Edison when he was first born. They're from the Wesleyan church that we attended there in Wheaton. In fact, Beth's mom, Char, is probably the person I credit the most for my craftiness and my love of quilting.

    When we were in chicago this summer, I spent an afternoon at the Quilt Merchant, and LOVED it!!

    This is beautiful -- and your mom is (still) a gem!!