My last two weekends have sucked, especially both Sundays. Some miasmatic malaise has come upon me while I slept Saturday night, bringing with it troubled and unsettling dreams, so that I awoke in a truly vile mood.
Today I dealt with it by being dutiful; I went into my "screw it; I might as well do stuff I don't want to do if I'm already cranky" mode and attended to some chores I've long been neglecting. But last Sunday I took a completely different approach to my bad mood.
Around noon I was sort of reading The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong's new book, out on my back porch, and sort of thinking about how much I'd like to piece a quilt top but really shouldn't because it's so labor intensive and I just shouldn't take that much time off from uh, WRITING (like I ever really write anything significant) until I get tenure. I'd wander down to my basement as I do from time to time, and, just as a diversion, look through the half a dozen bins and footlookers I have stuffed with unused fabric. I also delved into the big crate where I keep the scraps I will one day piece into quilt tops. And I thought again about how I really shouldn't start such a major project when I have all this writing to do. And I went back out on the porch with my book.
And then I shut the book and went back to the basement and hauled my ironing board, my iron, my rotary cutter, my cutting board and armfuls of fabric up to my living room, and I got busy cutting and piecing, because why the hell not be creative when it's what you really want to do.
So there I was, kneeling on the floor, surrounded by mounds and mounds of fabric scraps. I knew one way to make the piecing pass more quickly was to dispense with a pattern and just START, so that's what I did. The result is this huge dramatic random thing with no pattern whatsoever, but lots of nice sharp shapes and interesting lines and juxtapositions of prints. There are great big rhomboidish pieces and triangles of various sizes and little two-inch squares. The unifying feature is that all the fabric has a black background. The second most common color is red, though every other color is represented too, with the exception of purple. All the fabric I used is left over from clothes I've made for myself.
I managed to finish the top in only two days, because I did almost nothing else. I find it hard to let go of projects like that; once I start, I want to finish them. I stayed up until 4 a.m. Sunday night, because I just couldn't stop. I told a friend this and he commended me on my discipline, but it wasn't discipline that kept me up, just compulsion.... not only did I stay up too late, but I also neglected things like personal hygiene and proper nutrition. Oh, and blogging. I don't know if you noticed, but I didn't post or read a single blog entry last weekend.
Anyway. Piecing the top was only the first step; I also had to decide what I'd back it with. I have six yards of something suitable--gray background with a black and white vine twining up it--that I bought on sale for a buck a yard, but I still had to iron it, sew it together (cotton calico, which is the best fabric for quilting comes in widths of 44 inches, which is obviously not wide enough to back a queen-sized quilt) and size it lengthwise. I'll use plain black for the binding. I won't be quilting it myself, because it's too big a project for me: I don't have a huge quilting frame I can set up in my house or the time to quilt it--that's the REAL investment of labor--so I'll just send it to my mother and let her quilt it on her machine.
And I sort of feel that project sated my need to deal with textiles and I sort of don't. I will probably whip up some more clothes this summer–I already made two dresses, one for me and one for my sister--but the thing about making clothes is that when I'm done, I've got MORE SCRAPS. As much as anything, I'm glad to have decreased by a little the huge mess of leftover fabric in my basement. I could make a dozen quilts before I got rid of all the scraps I've got right this very second, and when I think about that, it's all I can do not to start another quilt right this very second. I could gladly piece another quilt today, making up a pattern this time, because it's cool to see a coherent design take shape. Or maybe I won't. I just heard about a new yarn shop in town--maybe I'll go see what they have to offer and take up knitting again.