Why I Quilt

I love it. I have to do something everyday that gives me joy. Quilting (and sewing in general) does that for me. It brings a happiness that nothing else does. What a blessing to find that in my life and so early. I knew as a child I would sew the rest of my life.

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It gives me peace. When I am quilting, I am completely at peace with myself and my surroundings. Time and trouble have almost no meaning when I am in the midst of fabric and a sewing machine. For me, quilting is better at curing the blues than professional therapy.

It makes me use my mind. Quilting involves a fair amount of math; using fractions, the metric system, division, geometry and angles. I must use my brain to keep measurements accurate. I also have to make squares, triangles, etc. match up. There are many skills I have to learn and new ways of doing things. There is always something new on the horizon. Quilting keeps me on my toes, alert and always aware. I think it helps keep me young.

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It’s a way to be creative. Colors, shapes, sizes, contrast and harmony – all combine in a million different ways. How fun it is to explore the possibilities that quilting affords me. I can literally think of anything and try it out with fabric! It doesn’t get any better.

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It keeps me organized. Keeping all the parts of a quilt in order can be a chore, but it does make me develop a system. The system allows the quilt to go together in the right sequence and it is different for each quilt. That way I’m able to stop and start without getting lost.

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It allows me to be messy. When I’m quilting, it can look like a fabric bomb has gone off in my sewing room. And that’s okay! Allowing the fabric to speak and jump out can be a freeing experience. Try it – I think you will like it! And I don’t have to clean it up until I’m ready.

It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Making progress on a quilt is very invigorating. Every block done is a goal accomplished. And a finished quilt is a thrill beyond compare. All the thought, planning, work, ripping, re-sewing and love become a beautiful fabric hug.

It never ends. Even before one quilt is done, I’m looking forward to the next project. There is always a new energy and an eagerness to get to the next idea. Numerous thoughts concerning several quilts can be going on at the same time. Quilts follow quilts. They never end!

The community of other quilters. Sharing the love of quilting with other like-minded people just multiplies the joy. I have found quilters to be the most selfless, caring, inclusive, sharing folks on the planet. I can’t imagine quilting all alone. It is a gift that must be performed  with others. I must share. I must be taught. I must teach. I must know the happiness of a group quilting together.

Photographs for the book "Teach Yourself Visually: Quilting" by Sonja Hakala. (Photo by Geoff Hansen)

Photographs for the book “Teach Yourself Visually: Quilting” by Sonja Hakala.
(Photo by Geoff Hansen)

It is part of my legacy. I envision quilts I made being handed down to my family for generations. I have also made many quilts as gifts for family and friends. These quilts are part of me and show my love for those in my life. Like my laugh and my sense of humor, they will be remembered and talked about for many years to come.

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The act of quilting itself sets a good example for the younger generations in my family. As the matriarch, I want to be seen as a productive and active elder. I believe quilting does that for me.

I Need My Veg Time, Granny

This seems to be the age of busyness, always moving, forever going, scheduled to the max and stress beyond measure. When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings ?

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And when did it become okay to involve our children in all this over-scheduling, busyness and stress? How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just. . . . be?

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It’s too easy to get caught up in a comfortable schedule where adults and kids are kept busy from sun-up to sun-down. It tells the world the parents are good, responsible, and active. It tells the world the kids are involved, active, smart and well-rounded. What it doesn’t tell the world is that everyone is exhausted, tired, stressed, unhappy, with no time to form the relationships and community that we all so desperately need.

Even people who you think might be able to enjoy some down time pile errands on top of volunteering on top of working out on top of, well, you name it. When the children get home from school, they race from one activity to another and if at some point, life seems to calm down, then it is time to take on a big construction project, get a dog or have a another baby.

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With summer here, our kids are home more and we have more time for what really matters each day. Relax the schedule at least a bit. Allow for what Mac calls his “veg time” – unscheduled relaxed “being time”.

Lat’s all lean into a better us, a better community of friends. When someone asks “How are you?” let’s assume that’s exactly what they want to know. Not the many items on your to-do list, nor the many requests in your inbox. Assume they want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tel them how your soul is – happy, sad, aching, worried, whatever. Examine yourself and tell them about YOU!

Put your hand on the arm of the person to whom you are speaking, look them in the eye (and not constantly at your handheld device) and connect for one second. Tell something personal. Remember we are full and complete human beings who also crave undivided attention and friendships.

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Kids need the same as adults – time off from an over-scheduled life and a balanced existence. Sometimes that means unstructured play and relationship with other kids and sometimes it means electronically disconnected time alone with a book. Not every activity requires a team with a play schedule, a coach, a snack list and uniforms.

Children also desperately want to be heard when we ask “How are you?” I challenge us all to insist on a type of connection where when one of us responds, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up with, “I know Sweetie. We all are. But I want to know about YOU and how I can help.

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