Sunday, May 24, 2009

An Aside

Cathedral windows -- most quilters recognize this design which is not a "real" quilt in that it has no middle layer of batting, although there are three layers of fabric. I have never made even one "window" although as I write I am very close to having made one, that will become more. What size the finished product will be I have no idea. This is not a technique I wanted to learn, the repetition seems boring to me and the amount of hand sewing time wasting and fussy.

BUT I think I may be excused for breaking my resolution not to buy new fabric when I bought four yards of white muslin for some cathedral windows. Why? Because a nice person deserves to be treated nicely. In my new apartment complex I found a notice about a Thursday night needlework group. I stopped in, hoping to find quilters or at least to find potential friends. I found one quilter who may be a potential friend, Mary, a woman of 89, who has spent hundreds of hours making cathedral windows and who was working on one using very bright oolored insets, many with metallic bits of the design. It was pretty. I said, "Oh, that's a technique i've never done." I couldn't make myself say "And I really don't ever want to." No, can't do that. I read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People back in my very impressionable adolescence and cannot immediately alienate people I've just met. That was the period of my life I was learning the pre-feminist rules about being a "nice girl" and damned if the lesson didn't stick, even to this day.

Mary wanted to teach me the technique. How could I say no? What could it hurt to learn something new? So I promised to purchase some muslin and prepare the basic squares. This I did. Last Thursday I went to the Needleworker's evening. Several non-needle workers stopped by, so I met a few more people -- I remember one name but I don't think I could connect it to the right face.

The technique is so time consuming and meticulous, in two hours I did not complete one "window" as you see here with the pins in it and the turned back sections not sewn down yet. I told myself i'd spend at least an hour this holiday weekend working on it so as to see if I've got the various steps in mind -- I suspect not. However two days has passed and I haven't sewn a stitch on this, though many stitches on two other quilts. Tomorrow -- ah, yes, manana. Really, I mean it.

The traditional "window" has a variation that Mary showed me and the other ladies when she passed out gift coasters as below. She calls them "mug rugs" but this is really too delicate and pretty to be called a "rug", I think. First, I said to Mary, I will try to make something sizable [not very sizable probably] in the traditional way and then I'll learn the variation.

Mary is a patient and practical teacher, she seems a very nice person. She surely has stories to tell as anyone who is 89 does. So I shall go to the needleworker's gatherings with some frequency, I think, which will probably be the only time I actually work on the cathedral windows, so the total will grow slowly.

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