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A Paean to the Joy of Quilting in the Golden Years posted: 10/26/2003
by Patricia Littlefield Printable Page
Category: General Method: All
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"What did You do Before You got the Itch to Stitch, Grandma?"

I came to quilting relatively late in life, after a career in the classroom while also pursuing a second career writing and editing computer documentation. I had tried quilting briefly about twenty years ago but soon realized that neither teaching nor quilting left much time for each other, so put the latter aside knowing that someday, someday, I wanted to have another go at it.

Someday is now and am I having a ball. Of all the things I have ever done that were the least bit artistic, quilting has got to be the most exhilarating. I am completely filled with wonder at the thought of actually creating from scratch something that someone may find useful.

It is very hard to put my quilting aside and go to bed, but often my best ideas arrive in the middle of the night, and then I can hardly wait till morning to get up and sketch them out using Quilt Pro. I'm afraid I won't live long enough to make all the quilts that I carry around in my head. In fact, it's a little like being constantly in labor: all these quilts are gestating in my brain, waiting to be born. Trouble is it's hard to know which one to deliver first.

Now, no one will ever accuse me of making pretty quilts: no sweet, dainty lap coverlets garlanded with flowers in neither pale pastels nor prim Baltimore album for me. I love color, the brighter the better, and since most of the quilts I make end up in the children’s section of our local hospital, they are usually teeming with images of toys and animals, surrounded by florals, polka dots, and plaids. And I have never met a stripe I didn't like.

However, I have learned my limitations: my quilts will never win any prizes; many don't lie perfectly flat, the edges aren't always straight, and some points are just a bit blunt. But that's all right. The joy that making them brings is plenty for me. And when someone actually wants to buy one . . . .

The process of quilting is absolutely packed with whatever it is that causes the endorphins to flow. The sense of well-being and exuberance that I feel is positively addictive. Perhaps this is the very reason why I decided to put quilting on the shelf twenty years ago; instinctively I must have realized that while quilting provides an opportunity for a quilter to discover and express her unique individualism, it takes a great deal of time to do so. You need time to learn what kinds of quilting you are drawn to, and what your personal style is. Do you have what it takes to hand piece and quilt or do you prefer to use a machine or a combination of techniques? Are you a template person or is strip piecing more your style? Do you most enjoy making the tried and true blocks and patterns or are you always on the lookout for a new technique, a different idea? Your own enjoyment and fulfillment are the bottom line.

Before, with a fulltime teaching job and a writing sideline, I did not have the luxury of time to discover what kind of a quilter I was meant to be. Now, in the prime of my golden years I do. Hooray! I love every minute of it.

©2003 Patricia Littlefield

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