Monday, February 18, 2008

Stars Upon Thars

I have a saying, mostly for my children, that goes like this: "First the Work, It's always the same, then we can laugh, watch tv and play games." "Watch tv" can be substituted with about any other fun activity. That is why we make our bed first, do our homework first, and do our Saturday jobs first. I don't try to be mean, it's a way of getting the nasty stuff out of the way so that fun can truly be uninhibited fun. And so, before starting on Baby Sam's quilt, I had some unfinished, and undesirable, work to attend to - first.

This star quilt has been languishing in my "to do" pile for a few years. What you see is about the third incarnation of the fabric and pattern. Started in Las Vegas as a "Let me Show you How Easy Quilting Can Be" project, something went terribly awry. One of the fabrics threw off the rest by being too stretchy, or just not 100% cotton. The result of my Americana Texas Star was a bulky, not straight, and just hashed mess due to seams not matching up. Frustration ensued. I went against my personal creed of never putting a project down without knowing EXACTLY what to do next. I knew that it would have to be dismantled, but everything got a bit fuzzy after that.

Sandy English, my Iowa mentor, helped me on one of my home visits by proposing a design for the quilt that would rehabilitate it into something useful. We drew up a design, I went out to the Kalona quilt shops, spent the money on the fabric (never cheap), and added the big stars. But when the project started taking longer than I had anticipated, it went back into the box. Kids have a way of trying to run my sewing machine, or yank on the iron cord when I'm in the middle of something complex.

Fast forward a couple years to my weekend of freedom, and knowing full well that my quilting days are numbered, I brought it out again. All the fabrics were there, the big stars done, wrinkles still there, but no pattern. What were we going to do with all of these strips? Borders maybe? UGH!

But, with patience, and being able to leave my sewing stuff up on the kitchen table for the past few days, I have finished it. It's busier than I usually do, and geometrically, I can't say that I'm incredibly pleased with the balance and overall design, but one thing I do know: it's done. I have pieced the backing, ironed up some binding, and will be able to throw together a quilt label after it comes back from my quilter.

Do I have visions of my children one day holding it up after my demise and saying, "Who wants this one? It, uh, has a lot of pieces, and she did it all herself, anyone? Anyone?" Yes, yes I do. But they can be haunted with the thought or voice, as I am by MY mother's voice in my head, "You finish what you start - even if it's not turning out extremely well. Because you can never tell, until the end of an enterprise, if it was worth it or not - never in the middle." The fabric is not wasted, and neither was my weekend - I have taken a monkey off my back! Now, I can go out and play.

3 comments:

lisareneenielsen said...

Cheers to you for finishing a project you lost interest in long ago! It looks great! I know it's not how you planned for it to turn out, but it really does look fantastic! You are better than I......I probably would have sent it off to Debbie Lee with a note that said...."salvage however you can, WHENEVER you can.." Good job, Katrink! Now.....on to the train quilt! WOOO...WOOO...Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga.....

Meredith & Steve said...

I have several unfinished projects...good for you for completing it! I don't quilt. I admire your talent. And, I love love love your mantra at the beginning about getting the work done first. I think I might need to add it to our hollerin' and beggin' the kiddos to take care of their crud!

Chelsea said...

I think it looks fabulous! I look the colors, too. My longest project was this 3'x3' hook-yarn rug thingy. I got it when I was 9 years old and was determined to make it for the baby-sister-to-be who was due in 7 months. I finally finished the terrible thing when the baby sister was 12.

PS I totally agree with your idea of work first and then play all you want. That's how I run things, too.