January was a good month for my Dutch Quilt. I guess it’s because my kids are back in all their activities – music, swimming, etc. and I have a lot of time to sit and watch them. I find hand piecing is a good way to spend that down time, and in the end I should have something nice to show for my work. This month I seem to have attracted more attention than normal. Usually when people ask what I’m making and I say “a quilt” I get and “oh” and a blank stare. I have short hair and wear jeans so, even though I have four children which is suspicious, they are pretty sure I’m not Amish. Now, I know the quilting community is pretty big and includes a lot of people like me – urban, educated and under forty (at least for this year), but quilting is usually not a public event. Even when people see quilts, they don’t usually see the process unless there’s a quilter in the family.
One afternoon I was at a playgroup that some of my kids go to, and I got the usual low-interest comments. Two weeks later, I had a woman ask “Are you still working on that?” I used all my self-control to keep from laughing. Obviously hand-piecing a queen-sized quilt doesn’t mean anything to her.
Another friend, one who actually understands the size of the project, asked in all seriousness “Why in the world would you want to do this by hand?” After thinking about it for a while, this is my answer.
1. Because I can. It’s like the guy who climbed Mount Everest “because it was there”. I have the skill and think it would be a great accomplishment to make a quilt entirely by hand. My sister runs marathons, which I don’t understand at all, but I respect. This is my marathon.
2. Because it’s fun. I like doing hand work. I don’t do everything by hand because I want to make more than one thing per year. I am working on perfecting my machine skills and techniques, but I really do like working by hand.
3. It uses wasted time. Simple piecing doesn’t require a whole lot of attention, so I can do it during music lessons, swimming lessons, at the library, or anytime I’m waiting to pick somebody up. With four children, that adds up to a lot of time. I rarely work on this project at home, but I always have a little bag in my purse with a few pieces so put together.
4. This was a special kit that I got in Amsterdam from Den Haan & Wagenmakers. That’s why it’s called the “Dutch Quilt.” It’s a beautiful store where they carry a selection of reproductions of antique Dutch prints. When I was trying to figure out how long it would take to make it, I realized that my 20th anniversary is in July 2014. Making that my deadline gives me three years to finish it – two for piecing and one for quilting. Really, what is easier, making a quilt by hand or staying married for twenty years?
I laid out all the blocks I’ve done so far so I could get a feel for what it will look like.
I got thirty-four blocks done in January, which makes up for December. That also means I’m 23% done the blocks at six months. Right on track.
118 done. 390 to go.