Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

C'est Finis... Musing about Finishing a Quilt... and Winning!

I realize that I have indeed been away from my blog for some time, and for that gentle reader, I do apologize! I have no good reason other than a busy life, and, making a living - among other incredibly time consuming pursuits!

I AM happy to report the completion of a major work in 2008. The draft of this post has been languishing in my "draft box" for some time...so I felt it had "ripened" enough for a post.

I finished (at long last!) a great quilt work that had been underway now for 5 long years. That seems like such a long time. How many times in one's life does one work on a project that will take 5 years to complete?

(Mom & Dad at their 50th Anniversary)
(Mom and Dad at their engagement - has he got a hold on her or what?!)

The "great quilt" is a quilt started in early 2003. My mother and father's 50th wedding anniversary scheduled in August of that year inspired me to begin a quilt I thought I would fininsh in 6 months! I considered that it should have to fit on my parents queen sized bed, and, that it MUST be hand quilted. How little did I know when I began the project how long it would actually take. Shortly after completing the top (in a wedding ring design of course!), I realized that my hand quilting skills were inadequate to the task. I began signing up for various workshops that year, and shortly decided to put away the quilt and put a "learning" quilt on the frame to hone my skills. The "Learning" quilt took a year itself - it was a vintage top that I sandwiched and hand quilted.
(Here's the Learning Quilt: )
Hearts & Gizzards

The great 50th wedding anniversary event took place as planned and was a great success... with the quilt top shown and a great quilt promised. My mother, who followed somewhat the progress of the work finally tired of asking about the quilt, and began to foist vain threats on me... "you'll have to wrap me in my coffin in it if you don't finish it soon...".... that sort of thing!

But, as I soon learned, a great project, and a great quilt can NOT be hurried.

Through good times and bad, a son's graduations, a downsizing and move, the emptying of the nest... through all, there was always the quilt.

(- The Quilt underway in the frame... Little "Tadpole" a brief visitor to our household, he loved to "help" me quilt. An unknown illness took him away from us too soon.)

The steady, soothing work, the quiet progress. Some trama resulted when I no longer was able to continue using the family frame (too large to set up in the smaller digs!)... but I adapted to a lap frame and continued... the quilt none the worse for wear...

Finally, the quilt was ready to bind, a month's chore, and then... the final wash! I decided not to agonize over the removal of the marking - I knew they might not entirely come out after having been on the quilt for so long, but decided to enter the quilt in the guild show in September before taking it to Mom at Thanksgiving, and a cleaning would be necessary to get it show-worthy.

(Detail of quilting and the Binding being attached! ALMOST DONE! )

It was with great trepidation that I left the quilt at the Show site... it's first time away from me for more than a day or so!

But the joy of seeing it hanging in the gallery, with admiring people walking by... the excitement of people discovering the hand work (wow!) was only matched by my amazement at winning a ribbon! Honorable Mention in the Large Piecing category!

Most gratifying, were the kind words of the judge, who praised the "lavish" hand quilting... and provided gentle critical remarks... not at all what I expected - having heard stories of the dangers of the judges critique!

(Adoring husband took this picture of the proud quiltmaker at the show:)

Here's a link to the guild site where you'll see many more lovely quilts...


Hmmm.... what's next?!

My UFO list has 14 pieces (I wasn't JUST working on that big quilt all those years after all!), I think the next one will be for ME! Here's a lovely dresden plate top I finished some years ago (before the wedding ring) that has been patiently awaiting a quilting. It will HAVe to be done by hand!

(A Dresden Plate Top at a workshop - hmmmm, what pattern to quilt?)