It is no secret that I have a penchant for all things craft-y. I think it all goes back to my early days as a creator of abstract art when my mom would set us up with the Spin-Art machine in the breakfast room and I’d have at it; squirting blobs of primary colors onto the whirling paper to form rorschach-like patterns.
There have been many crafting phases since then: embroidery floss friendship bracelets and plastic lanyards from camp, beads collected and wire and all sorts of jewelry-making accoutrements, modeling clay, and so on and so forth. Knitting was one craft/hobby that stuck when I learned 8 years ago on a whim. After years of passing our local yarn shop and staring longingly through the windows at the textures and colors, I just had to go in and figure out how I could MAKE something with all that wonderfulness. Knitting opened up an entire world of creative possibility for me. I felt a great sense of accomplishment in mastering the skill and a deep sense of satisfaction every time I completed another project. It was like being inducted into a sacred society and now I am a kindred spirit to all those knitters who have come before me; those who have whipped out woolens to keep families warm throughout the generations.
When my favorite yarn shop in Philadelphia, Loop, opened their sister store Spool, I was skeptical. A fabric shop? What use could I possibly have for sewing let alone fabric? The shop, though, was just so gorgeous with its cheery, brightly lit rooms and neatly arranged bolts of cotton in pleasing patterns that I just HAD to learn to sew. That was two years ago. Since then I have bought my own sewing machine and lurched through a few basic patterns to find that I love it just as much as knitting. If knitting is the craft that lets me zone out and my mind wander or focus on other things as my fingers work away at the needles, then sewing is the craft that forces me to be present in the moment. Sewing forces me to work slowly and methodically because there are more preparation required and LOTS of cutting. When I sew, I have to be content with the fact that I may not finish my project in a day. Especially since machine sewing is not a portable activity like knitting. I also have to be content with the fact that my sewing skills are just emerging and I will inevitably make mistakes. Fortunately, there is always more fabric and more thread to be had when that happens.
I recently signed up for a beginning quilting class at Spool. I have wanted to take this class for two year, but with nursing school and clinical rotations, it was never feasible. When I completed nursing school in December, reserving a place in this class was the first thing I did. I have just completed my first quilt top and, while my rotary cutting skills leave something to be desired, I am very pleased with the result. Soon I will piece the borders, baste, quilt, and attach the binding to have a finished product that is all my own. There seems something very special about making one’s first quilt given the history of quilting in America and the fact that quilts are synonymous with warmth and love and family. I foresee that quilting will become another tradition I embrace and pass on to others through gifts.