Sunday, March 26, 2006

Wedding Presents

From the original "Friendster" version of SOTC.

Wedding Presents
DATE: 03/26/2006 11:37:56 PM

I'm sure, gentle reader, that you have been breathlessly anticipating an update on the challenge quilt. Well, I finished it on the Sunday the 12th. On Monday the 13th, I handed it over to a woman from the guild. It was very strange to work on something so intensively for so long, and then to immediately give it to a stranger. But, I guess if I want people to see what I make, I'm going to have to get used to handing pieces over and trusting that they'll come back eventually.

I still can't show you a picture of the challenge quilt, unfortunately. That will have to wait another two weeks, until the Guild meeting on April 10.

With that big project off my plate, I spent a few days going nuts on about four different projects, making bits of incremental progress on all of them instead of focussing on any one piece. It felt good to work on some less fussy quilts, where I could get into a groove and make some fast progress without sweating over every individual stitch.

But eventually, it was time to get serious again. In particular, I've been thinking I really should get started on a wedding present for a good friend who got married, uh, last August. I am a firm believer in the one-year rule, but even at that I've only got four months left on the meter. So, that's what I'm working on now.

Now the problem with this as a blog subject is that once again I'm working on a project that I can't show you a picture of -- since my friends who got married last August might be among you. And I know you, gentle reader. For all of your sophistication and book larnin', you mostly want purty pictures from your quilt blog. It's OK, you can admit it. It's perfectly normal and healthy to want to see pictures of attractive quilts.

So, what I'm going to do is show you some pictures of wedding quilts past. First, though, a note to my friends who were married last August, if you happen to be reading this: what I'm working on for you is not quite to the scale of the pieces I'm describing here. It will be a smaller thing, but hopefully special in a different way. All will become clear.

OK, where were we? Oh, right, wedding quilts. The first one I made was for Mark and Lisa, back in 2000. I don't have a good picture of it, but this one will give you the idea. I designed it with the help of a seventh-grade lad named Ethan (this was back when I was a student teacher) and consequently the wedding symbolism is not as subtle as it might be. But perhaps that is part of the charm. It was my first foray into jewel tones, and with only four fabrics (green, red, blue, black) it is unusual for me -- most of my quilts use at least 10 fabrics, and many use hundreds.

Alas, I did not finish it in time. I flew it out to Huntsville, Alabama for the ceremony, showed it to 'em (see figure B), brought it home, finished it, and shipped it back out to 'Bama, where it has since remained as far as I know. Mark and Lisa seem to like it. I hope so.

Two years later, it was Mary Beth and Kim's turn. I brought them in on the design process, asked them about colors, showed them sample quilts and asked for their opinions on them, and asked them to describe what the perfect wedding quilt for them would look like. After this exhaustive market research, I sat down and came up with a kinda clumsy design in which the wedding symbolism, at least, is a little more subtle. I borrowed it back today so I could get a good photo of it, and I have to say, it's much better than I remembered it. Which is good. A wedding quilt is not where you want to do your crap work.

I don't know if other quilters feel this way, but a wedding gift is kind of a special thing to work on. For one thing, it involves you in actively celebrating your friend's marriage for several months in advance, which is a pretty powerful and joyful experience (note: I have been strongly in favor of the four marriages mentioned here. Making a quilt for a wedding you had big reservations about might suck.) And then, to be completely honest, there is the gloating certainty that your gift is going to make a big splash. Let's face it, a handmade quilt is the atomic bomb of wedding gifts. You know that you are going to wipe the gift-giving floor with those crass bastards who paid thirty bucks for something off the registry at Target.

Or so I had always supposed. Then came 2004, and Marsha and Charlie's wedding. I made an all-flannel piece, my only one to date. It uses only three winter-color fabrics in a simple (although hard to piece) pattern. Wedding symbolism is present but subtle. Not terribly showy, it is nevertheless among my favorites of everything I've made.

Nice quilt, right? I must have rocked the gift-opening, right? No. I had not accounted for Charlie's mom, the quilter. Nor for Charlie's grandma, the quilter. And you know, it's hard to compete with mom and grandma. Poor Marsha and Charlie -- I'm afraid they have a few more carefully handcrafted blankets than they really know what to do with.

Well, that's all I have to say about that for now. A procedural note -- I've changed the subtitle for this blog, which was originally going to be about my adventures in both quilting and home music recording. Turns out I like writing about the one, but not the other. So, we're talking quilts here. Nothing but quilts. Peace.


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