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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Ugly Quilt

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Not bad, but ... exhausting. First, A came down with croup and we spent a night in the hospital with an epi-mask. Three days later I was off to Sick Kids with N - he's a regular and we were home within a couple of hours. Then a few days after that I was gasping for breath and coughing so hard I was seeing stars. Off to the doctor and labs for xrays and tests. 
Pneumonia. Sigh. 
So we spent two weeks at home. 

Everyone has sent messages of support and sympathy-from a nice safe distance! Once A was feeling better my Mom came and took him so I could sleep. They went to the grocery store and the pet store. I now have three new fish and a lot of random food A clearly picked out. 

The hardest day? Monday. Monday when we had to go back to real life. Being sick was no fun, but as we were all sick together it was actually very...peaceful. The boys were really cuddly and calm. We built Lego sets and read stories and snuggled under every blanket we owned. We slept. We watched movies. We stayed in our pajamas for days. Reality was a distant thing. 
And then Monday. Monday we had to get up, make lunches and go places.
N cried all the way to school. I cried. I have never WANTED to be sick again so badly! 

In the middle of all that coziness, and with the help of some serious narcotics, I had a deadline I had to meet:
 This is the "Ugly Quilt"

 I made eight quilts last year and my Mother was a bit put out that none of them were for her. She wanted one so badly she even brought me the fabric. Well, actually it was a kit. I did not like the kit. I considered the kit. But I really didn't like it. And I thought that it didn't show off the fabric as well as it should. So I decided to do my own thing. 
 I do a lot of work on my quilts while the kids are in bed. They are very good at playing on their own and will leave me to sew if I'm so inclined, but especially when they are sick, I want to be with them. And our naps :) I could nap during the day but at night, I just couldn't sleep. I was coughing so much I felt like I was choking when I lay down, so rather than wander about the house, I played with fabric. Usually when the boys get up and find a quilt in process they are full of enthusiasm and praise. A was pretty good - "Mom! You made a quilt! Good job!"...but N, N is too honest, and too critical. He came out one morning while the quilt was hanging on my design wall and stopped cold. He studied the quilt in progress and looked at me and said "what are you thinking?" 
He did not like the quilt. He hated the colours ("It's not even a real red!?!") and it just seemed to offend him. Being my sweet boy he appreciated the work I was putting in, and he liked the Tumbler Pattern, be he started referring to it as "the Ugly Quilt". And the name stuck :) 
I will confess I didn't really like the quilt much until I added the border. I had gone to the fabric store intending to buy something brown or maybe green but the blue caught my eye and I just couldn't put it down. Once I stitched it on I knew I had made the right decision. For me, it just pulled it all together. N still only likes the quilt when just the back is showing... but over time it's grown on me.
 I almost always like my quilts best when they are stretched on my "frame" for basting. It took me so long to learn to do this that I feel a particular pride when it's all laid out and pinned and on the verge of perfection. I'm not the greatest quilter on the planet (still learning) so this is the moment that holds the most promise. I know, especially after this quilt, that I need to give myself more time for the quilting and definitely more time for the binding (I rushed...), but before I undo the clamps and get ready to sew it's just so close. I can see it all come together and with this quilt, I was so pleased. I struggled to like this quilt, but at this moment, I kind of loved it.
 I usually start a project full of enthusiasm and love. I almost always know who it will go to and I pour all my affection for that person into the work. I love my mother. She was widowed in her twenties and did an amazing job raising my brother and I on her own. I appreciate her all the more now that I have my own boys. 
But I have a picture of her on my mantel, framed, with the following quote: 
"My mother, always in two places at once - on my nerves and in my heart"
This sums her up perfectly. She can be the most fun person in the world. And the most annoying. As she hinted and pressed and frankly pestered me about making her a quilt I felt my heels digging in. The more she asked the less I wanted to make it. And then one day she said "I just want a little one. You know, to put on my bed to protect my comforter from the cats"
HOURS of work to protect another, store-bought, blanket from the CATS!?!?!?!
 So I grumbled. And I glared. And I reveled in the fact that we called it Ugly.
I also had to frantically hide it every time she came over. And then A broke my sewing machine....
This quilt was cursed. And then I started to like it. 
The colours I would never use, together,  myself, but the dark chocolate brown and some of the blue and yellow are remnants of N's superhero cape phase (he wore a cape everywhere he went for months!). And I was really pleased with how I learned how to use the tumbler ruler (THANK YOU AMY!!! and how the layout all came together.
And for once I finally had enough clamps (my Christmas present from my brother - thanks Jord!)
 And then I was done!
 And it was pretty. 
It isn't quite as quilted as I would like. It will hold together, of course, but I had things I wanted to try.. just not enough time or energy. But the simple quilting that I did left it soft and subtle and cosy.
 I photographed it on Tuesday when the sun was shining and the temperature was somewhere around -40'C with windchill. Thank you SO much to T for letting me use your fence and staying out in the cold to help me get a few shots!
 Mom's birthday is this weekend and it's all wrapped up with a card covered in cats :)
I do hope they like it! 
Edited to ad: Mom opened the quilt, LOVED it and while we were having cake and celebrating with family left it beautifully draped over a chair in her living room. Sid the Adorable curled up and had a nice long nap on it. Every time she tried to move it he found it again and refused to get OFF. She eventually rolled it up and put it back in the gift bag. He knocked it over and squeezed himself in.
I give up. This is the cat's quilt!

1 comment:

Knit and Purl Mama said...

It's not that ugly.... and you did a great job with it.