Saturday, September 20, 2008

40 lashes with a wet noodle

I spent several hours this morning sewing and mentally lashing myself at least 40 times with a wet noodle. My contemporaries might remember advice columnist Ann Landers who decreed that punishment for egregious stupidity. I was quilting this child's I Spy quilt. It's the only I Spy quilt I've made because my first mistake some months ago was agreeing to a swap of 6x6" squares for such a quilt. I'm a stodgy old fuddy-duddy who doesn't like most cartoon characters. A few of these 24 squares are whimsical and attractive. Most are awful. But I'm thrifty, if it's "perfectly good" I think it should be used. That comes from my childhood. As poet John Ashbury famously wrote "Your mom and dad, they fuck you up." Mostly I think they did a decent job but this thrift thing ... well, it can be extreme and egregiously stupid at times.

The squares arrived and I sewed them together. Mistake #2: I assume they were all properly 6x6, but a few weren't which I didn't notice until it was being put together. Mistake #3, I went ahead and put them together. I didn't like how it looked so it went into the UFO pile. In time I found a blue and white calico for backing. Yesterday I found that calico was six inches too short. I pinned it together with batting and decided to do it today, adding whatever I could find to piece the back, which I didn't really want to do. The front was bad enough, why make the back a hodge-podge too? Then I remembered another piece of fabric that was languishing -- no, stash doesn't languish, it awaits it's moment to step forward and save the day.

This morning I unpinned the calico and pinned the new backing, a strip that strangely does seem to work okay and I even had about 10 inches extra. What I SHOULD have done, though, is look seriously at the top and admit to myself that I don't like it. Really just don't like it. So why should I spend time and effort, backing and batting on it?
I SHOULD have just folded it nicely and added it to the Goodwill bag. They could, possibly sell it to someone who likes kiddie cartoons and doesn't mind that some squares are only about 5-1/2 square. Or they could have used it to lay on a table and put contributed dishes on top, or just use it to wrap donated T-shirts in.

But No. I'm thrifty - and wasted a few hours this morning sewing and lashing myself mentally for wasting a beautiful midday on something I did not like and did not enjoy and thus also doing a lousy job quilting. Finally I was so irritated at myself I left it in need of simple quilting on the border and binding -- the backing will be turned to the front. It'll take maybe a couple hours tomorrow and I'll still probably give it to Goodwill because I would be embarrassed to give it to my guild's charity committee -- they know lousy work when they see it and many people in the world do not. Now that's a disgustingly smug and condescending attitude -- forty more lashes have already been applied I assure you. I'm going to try, try, try very hard to remember that I don't have time to waste and when something is going badly, I should just get rid of it. It's only fabric and not very much of it really. [I have finally learned to throw pencils in the garbage when they get shorter than three inches -- an advance in the fight against needless thrift].

So I finally quit because we're having incredibly lovely weather. It was NOT a waste of time, after I did the errands I needed to do, to sit in the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park and read the new issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine. Here's a lovely flower that was among the many in the late season abundance of growth, some of which looked like weeds to me but everything there was mentioned by the Bard and is therefore cherished by the gardeners. I have to keep my priorities in line. Habit gets in the way but a 72 degree autumn day with a cobalt sky demands to be enjoyed.


MaryContrary said...

I wouldn't apply the wet noodle too vigorously. I can't remember how many projects I came to hate as they progressed. Usually I simply stopped and put the pieces away until I thought my way around the problems. Some turned out very different from the original and very attractive. When it comes to fabric I am a bit of a miser and can't bear to throw anything away that is big enough to incorporate into another project.

tomosia said...

I realize that this isn't your favorite project, but know that once you finish it and give it to goodwill it most likely will end up in the hands of a child that will love it. He/she won't care about the size of the blocks or the quaility of the quilting, they will appreciate the silly cartoons and that it keeps them warm. One man's trash is another's treasure...before you give it away, say a short prayer that whoever ends up with it, finds beauty and purpose in it. Then you can move on to more beautiful things and not have to think about it again.