Monday, March 25, 2013

Leroy's Cloud

It all started here. I had read the 15 minutes play blog and decided to start making blocks. I had an 8.5 inch square ruler and thought 8-inch blocks would be just fine. I made a block here and there, but one day, I don't exactly remember when, I believe it was last fall after I came back from Spain, I could not have those blocks hanging around anymore. I had to make more and finish a quilt. So I opened my scraps box, which was packed with scraps and started stitching them together with no selection of colors or patterns, just the way they came out of the box as long as their size was good.

While working on this project, our beloved cat Leroy passed away. He was 18 years old and his life had not been pleasant for some time, so we decided to give him rest. With much sorrow, we buried him in our backyard up on the hill, so he is still close to us. We miss him every day. I wanted to dedicate this quilt to him, as he has been very present in my thoughts while I was sewing.

The number of blocks kept growing and I put them on my design board. At some point, I had to think about the final size of the quilt and decided I would make 54 blocks with an off-white sash and a border consisting of the same off-white and smaller squares. One day, I was looking at my design board with the composition and Jerry said it looked like clouds. I believe he was talking about those small squares on the border because they seem to be somehow floating on the white. Whatever the case might be, the name of the quilt was set that very moment: Leroy's Cloud.

There is a mystery that I do not understand with this quilt. (Of course, if I understood, it would not be a mystery.) Here is the thing: all the top of the quilt is made of scraps, and it is a large quilt, there are a few yards of fabric there, but my scraps box is still full! I just cannot imagine how this can be. I look at that box and think that I will not need any more fabric for the rest of my life, all the fabric I need is there, as it looks like the more I use, the more is left. Do not worry, though, that is not preventing me from buying more fabric, that would be silly.

This quilt is machine pieced and machine quilted. The quilting part of it has given me more problems than I want to remember, so let's not go there. The main thing is that the quilt is finished.

I hope that Leroy is happy resting on his soft, cheerful cloud.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


When I first started quilting and joined the Black Hills Quilters Guild, there was this acronym that I kept hearing, UFO. I was familiar with it, but I could not figure out how Unidentified Flying Objects would pertain to the quilting subject. At that time, I had only been in the United States for one year or so, and I was trying very hard to make sense of all I saw and heard and learned. This UFO was beyond me, I just could not get it! I asked, then, and the light was shed: UnFinished Object. There you go!

Over time, I learned that UFO were some sort of a nightmare for most quilters. They started a lot of projects but at some point they did not feel like finishing them. Maybe they ran out of inspiration, maybe what they were so excited about that particular project was not there anymore, maybe something very appealing crossed their way and had to follow it, a variety of reasons were preventing them from finishing their projects. And they did not seem to be very happy about it.

Recently, one of my customers, a lady who purchased a gorgeous piece of fabric from my shop, told me that she really liked the fabric and did not know what she would make with it. From her words, I could gather that same UFO sense of guilt, that same feeling that there is something wrong in not finishing that what has already been started. That was the seed for this post.

Why is it that quilters feel wrong when they do not finish their projects right away? Where is it written that there is a schedule to finish a project? Who sets the rules about the right time to complete it? Isn't quilting something to enjoy? Where is so deeply rooted the idea that there is a moral obligation to finish everything we start? And why is it so very well spread across different cultures?

I do not have any UFO. I work on different projects that sometimes share a specific period of time. Some take longer than others. There are projects that will take years to be finished, and meanwhile shorter and faster ones will be completed. I have a box full of stripes already sewn for a project that I started some years ago. Is that a UFO? No, it is a project in progress. When will it be completed? I have no idea. Did I give up with it? Absolutely not. What is the project waiting for to be finished? Its own time. Some day, all those pieces will tell me where they want to go, how they want to be together.

Why would I force them to stay together in a way that they do not like? Just because I am in a rush to finish? No, I refuse to work that way. My brain is not a straight narrow line where only one idea can happen at a time. Just look at a neuron and you will know what I am talking about.

Drawing of Purkinje cells (A) and granule cells (B) from pigeon cerebellum by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, 1899. Instituto Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain.