Why, Tell Me, Why, Why, Why?
Why, dear readers, I ask you, is it absolutely necessary that I do things the hard way? I mean, its like I have a sickness. An addiction. I wouldn't go so far as to say a problem, no. But close. Reeaaaaally close. You may be asking yourself what the devil I am talking about. My friends, I am talking about the rackin' frackin' rail fence quilt, aka "Some Things Are Meant To Be." Yeah. I'll tell you what's meant to be. Me doing things the hard way, that's what. And I'm not talking about the saga of how this quilt has come to exist, either, oh no. I'm talking about sheer bullheadedness, stupidity and all that. Jumping on Superman's cape. Spitting into the wind. Pulling the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger. Messing around with Jim. You get what I'm saying. Good Lord, you're thinking. What has gone horribly wrong? What disaster has befallen our beloved, charming mildly neurotic quilter, Cottage Magpie? What? Tell us! I made a huge freakin' quilt, that's what. Look. Any of you who quilts, has started quilting, has considered starting quilting or even thought about starting quilting has probably been given some good, hard won advice. Which tools you need, which patterns are good for beginners and so forth. It's fair to say that said advice is probably not the same for all people. But there's one thing that is always said, that everyone gets told: DON'T MAKE A BED-SIZED QUILT FOR YOUR FIRST PROJECT. You know, there's good reasons why people give that advice. As a new quilter, you want to have success. You want to be able to get the stupid quilt through your machine at home and not have to rent time on a longarm. You want to be able to complete the project before your eyes fall out of your head. That sort of thing. But me? No. For whatever reason, I can't listen. I knew making a small quilt first was a good plan. I knew all the reasons why. But I just couldn't get myself behind it. I wanted a QUILT. Not a piece of art. A functional thing that my son could snuggle under. That he could drag out of his room for reading on the couch. That he could make a fort with. So bed-sized it had to be. I've wrestled with this project from the beginning. The patchwork took forever and a day. I barely got the top through the machine, but I got it done. The entire process, of course, a nagging little voice at the back of my mind saying, "Maybe you should have (re)started your quilting life with a smaller project." Even the quilt shop people knew I was in over my head when I showed up at the shop last week: Them: Hey there, nice to see you! What project did you bring for your first longarm session? Me: Well, the smallest I had ready to go was a twin-sized (like how I made it sound like I had a plethora of quilt tops to choose from?) Them: Can't do it. Me: But I'm familiar with the longarm and I've used a Gammil before. Look, here's my project from my class. Them: It's not that. It's that loading up a quilt into the machine is a long, involved process that is exponentiated by size. A wall hanging is a small fraction of the size of a bed quilt. It's exhausting. That's why we ask you to bring a small project. A SMALL project. Me: I'm prepared to pay for whatever time is necessary to get it done. Them: It's a big machine. It's physically demanding. You need to be prepared for that, and you're likely not. Me: I guess I could come back another time.... Them: We're short-handed today. I'd really like to be able to help you, but I just don't know how we are going to be able to. Me: Oh. Okay. Them: Oh, hell. The machine is this way.... Mind over matter! Where there's a will there's a way! I can do this! What an idiot. Let me tell you, the morning after quilting for three straight hours is not a morning you want to face without Vicodin. And then I got it home and it *still* wasn't done! It needs to be squared up! Needs binding! Holy hell. So, despite my broken body, I moved all the furniture in the living room so I could lay it out and square it up. I scraped together enough scraps of the fabric from the quilt to make the binding. I joined it and ironed all 387 yards of the stuff. I wrestled the behemoth under the machine again to get the binding stitched down. Then I just had to pull the binding around to the back and hand stitch. Piece of cake, I said to myself last night. I'll just whip this out and post the pictures of the finished quilt today. Piece of cake. I got my stuff together, set myself up in front of the TV. Piled the quilt on my lap. Figured the excessive sweat all over it wouldn't hurt it too much. And I started to hand stitch. And hand stitch. And hand stitch. I hand stitched for three hours and I'd only gone about 1/5 of the way around the mammoth, oversized, gargantuan quilt. I swear this thing is expanding as I'm working. I'm locked in battle with this thing. Deadly combat. I will finish this motherless quilt if it kills me. I just wasn't counting on it hurting quite so much. I had to quit working on the binding because my hand and wrist were so sore I couldn't tell whether my fingers were coming or going anymore. It's been 24 hours and they're still sore. It's going to take a few days to recover and by then I'll have lost my nerve; the will to finish this quilt will have dribbled out my ear. Given that I started this quilt in 1986, I can reasonably expect to get the quilt done in, say, 2028 or so. No problem. Rocket Boy will only be 24 then. He'll still want a quilt, right? I don't think he's going to want to wait that long. What I said that the unfinished binding was symbolic of the unraveling of the fabric of our society, as also exemplified by the contrast between the 1940's reproduction Western fabric with the jumble of misshapen blocks in contemporary fabrics? Yes, yes....it just might work.