I used to do pottery. I wasnt very good at it, but I loved it. I loved the unpredictability of the process of pot-making. It was impossible to see the finished pot in that lump of clay, but there was so much potential – and so many opportunities.
With every step along that process, things changed and changed quite dramatically. Sometimes due to my own actions and sometimes through chance.
When I discovered patchwork and quilting, I found that, for me, there were many similarities to pottery. From that pile of fabrics almost anything can emerge and once I have started, I am never 100% sure of the end result. I may have planned and sorted and cut, but the end result is never exactly what I had envisaged. I may have slightly more control, but things change on each quilts journey. And I love that unpredictability in the process.
We spend a lot of time at our sewing machines. Sometimes we are more productive than others. This is my happy place. Sometimes I will have music or podcasts playing in the background, but much of the time I sew in silence with my thoughts as company. In this time random thoughts enter my mind and I take note of everything: what needs to be done; what to cook for dinner; grocery list items; alternate colour ways; ideas for the next fifteen quilts. But most of all the thoughts that enter my mind are about the intended recipient of that quilt: Who they are to me; our relationship; our history; memories both old and new.
Is it any wonder, then, that our quilts carry our personalities? How often do you recognise the quiltmaker through the style of construction or the colour palette used? This is almost inevitable as we are physically, emotionally and even spiritually involved in every quilt we make. Every quilt carries the memories (and even sometimes the fabric) of every quilt we have made before. Every quilt carries our life experiences, our life situations and our personalities – and our DNA!
What is also means is that when we make quilts for specific people, we are not giving them a random collection of fabrics sewn together in a pleasing pattern and stitched decoratively. We are giving them a piece of ourselves – both literally and figuratively. Do we tell them this? Do we tell them that the value of their gift is worth far, far more than they will ever know? That they are to use it and allow it to fulfil its two primary purposes – to make them happy and to keep them warm.
I just tell them that I have made it with love and specially for them – that it is a material hug.