I have fallen in love with a needle and thread.
A few weeks back, I directed you to a Quilt Scout column announcing my leap into hand quilting. At that point I had quilted just a few inches of my top and was still afraid I’d ruin it. I was not thrilled with the results at that point; I definitely didn’t feel like I had found my new best friend. Then three gigs bore down on me and it was shipping quilts, taking airplanes, teaching classes, and so on. I left “Larkin” on my recliner and went off to work.
But hand quilting this kaleidoscope is on my summer goal list and I don’t play around with summer goal lists, people. When I got home from Minnesota, I unpacked, locked the door, put on my favorite black cashmere pants and my halter top, put my hair in a ponytail, and settled into that recliner with my quilt and Netflix and started in for real.
I didn’t get up for four hours. The next morning, I sat for two more hours and only stopped because my index finger was sore. In the evening, it was me and Larkin again, parked in that mid-century black leather recliner I found in Washington, D.C. at a Salvation Army in a dodgy part of town. This is what this chair was meant to do: it was meant to hold me while I do this. If I sound like a charismatic, I am. I’m converted. I’m obsessed. I’ve worked on this quilt at least three hours every day since Sunday. Is it “good”? No, of course not. And that is so far from the point, I’m like, not interested in the point.
Rocking a needle in and out of layers of fabric is an ancient gesture. Stitching is a natural man/tool combination, like chopping wood with an axe or pumping water from a well. Using a simple tool creates simple pleasure. The act of loading stitches — going up, down, up, down with the needle through the fabric and then pulling the thread all the way through — and then doing it over and over until a pattern (and a quilt!) begins to reveal itself, this is inexplicably entertaining while putting a person in a tranquil place. You can’t type and hand quilt. You can’t cook and hand quilt. You can definitely binge watch The Office (both US and UK versions, though I’m working on the US version at the moment) and hand quilt, but that’s about it. It feels good.
My Scout column got a big response because there are a lot of hand quilters out there. Ladies? Gentlemen? Count me among your numbers. Want more proof? Today I finished my spiderweb quilt top, made the back and basted it just so it would be ready for me to hand quilt when I’m done with Larkin.
Serious question: is there a club I can join? I want a card in my wallet to announce my love to the world. Or a promise ring. Anything.