Friday, June 8, 2012

Quilt of Valor #3 Decisions! Decisions!


      Except for one blue strip of the weave, everything has been placed on my design wall. This is called a scrappy quilt because the materials have come from my own personal "stash" of materials. Yes, we quilters have our private stash. Sounds clandestine, doesn't it? There have been a lot of jokes about how we hide our stashes and keep trying to find  places to put it all. My stash is really quite modest and I have pretty slim picken's finding the right colors and hues to create some order in the pattern, even though it really doesn't have to be, being scrappy and all.  I'm not the best colorist when it comes to this part of the quilt making.  When you get me together with my 2 quilty friends from 100 miles away, we become a dynamo team, selecting, scrunching, displaying, viewing all kind of color schemes.  It's such a joy to find that strength with my buddies.  But going this one alone really boggles me. Because I am limited to what I have, (yes, I could go to the quilt shop and purchase many more fat quarters to make the color scheme "pop") but I really wanted this to be from me, my stash and my heart.  Some of the materials carry precious memories of past works or favorite shop hops, and one is even a fabric gift from my sister when she was in Australia and wanted to send me something for my quilting. She sent me a huge bandana!  Do you see that one?  I like the idea of selecting all these mixed up pieces to create one new piece. Kind of fits what I was saying on my last post.
     As I am struggling to decide on the just right placement of the rows, I think about all the decisions we all have to make in our lives. As with most families, we are at the crossroads of many decisions, individually and as a family unit. My adult children struggle daily with the pressures of work and home that keep them from finding moments of joy.  My husband is trying to decide how best to help his aging parents when is he too many miles away from them.   I keep waffling in my decisions to find a happy medium between stepping in to "help" them all or standing back in love.  Then my mind goes to you. What decision you must be having to make. What struggles are you confronting?
     After staring at the wall all this time, I need to take a break as the colors are becoming a blur. I choose to do a mindless task of making the "flying geese" blocks that are the ribbon points  of each row. These are simple and no major thinking has to take place to get them done. Just 3 blocks, diagonal lines and little ironing and cutting and Viola! flying geese and my brain can relax for a while. A whole new lesson in this too: when the task gets to be too much and everything is rushing in, around, and by us, we need to stand down, walk away, and re-group our senses.
      So now, is there a better way to arrange these rows? I know in any art, the eye needs a resting place. Eyes follow to the light. I have a lot a patterns in here that are keeping the eye busy.  Then I go the the real purpose of this quilt. It's not supposed to be hung on a wall for the discerning art critics. This unknown soldier is supposed to take it to his/her bed or couch and snuggle under it and find some warmth, calmness, and love amid all these reds, whites, and blues. It should surround him with the untold stories of someone who is grateful for his service even if he doesn't know her, while he can hopefully and in the spirit of healing, reflect on his past, and rebuild whatever the future may hold. I know that the hardest struggle is in getting to the decision itself, because once it's made there is a clear path, and there's no looking back. No time for "woulda, shoulda, coulda.  Just keep on moving!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quilt of Valor # 2 Order Among Chaos

     I have almost finished cutting all the red materials into the required squares and triangles.  I am lining them up on the table next to the un-cut blues. The table is beginning to really represent today's title.  It is easy to compare it to a unit of soldiers lined up and ready for whatever is commanded of them, while the rest of the world around them is jumbled into a chaotic hodge-podge.

    Adding to my chaos, a little diversion occurred  when the grandkids came with their dad to help Papa Wayne. Three little ones under the age of 5 do not allow for this kind of concentration. Only when they all went down for naps did I get a chance to return to this endeavor. But four year old Tayah woke early and came into the sewing room. I had her sit on a stool and watch. Needless to say, the curious questions and inquisitive fingers kept me from cutting accurately, and I messed up a fat quarter and will have to find a new one. 
    I stopped and spent a rare precious moment with the one singleton child to teach her how to cut fabric with little round tip scissors. What fun to see this new skill develop.

    Back to the quilt project:
         Every Quilter has probably been asked the same redundant/rhetorical question, "Why would you want to cut up perfectly good pieces of material just to sew them back together again?"   I hear a similar statement addressed to paratroopers on why they want to jump out of perfectly good airplanes.  Do they really want an answer? Whatever others think of our reasons for doing anything that brings us some kind of joy should not be a topic to address.  I do think the questions and our reasons pose polar views that may add to the scheme of things and how we do find some order.
         If anyone would want an answer to the cut up question, I would want to answer with the analogy of our lives.  We come into this world like a beautiful piece of fabric, untouched, pure, and beautiful. Some are richer than others, and some are stronger. The colors may be muted or vibrant.  There may even be some flaws, but that just adds to the beauty of the material and its unique individuality. Our life's journey can cause some pretty heavy slashes mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Whether it was the horrors of war, a loved one's death, a physical disability, or discord within a family or at work, these experiences cause severe cuts into our well-being.   It would be easy to end up in the scrap heap on the floor.  But working together with others, adding support to and from each other, we can stitch together a new being, more beautiful and stronger than ever before. We may not be the same as we started out, and all the cuts and slashes are still there, but we can create this new life to take on anything else that comes our way with a new found strength, purpose, and resolve to find some type of order in this chaotic world around us.