HomeOpinionCOLUMN: Quilting By Hand

COLUMN: Quilting By Hand


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The following was submitted by Kathy Nolan Deschenes. To submit your own content, e-mail asylvia@westfordcat.org

“Not many of you left,” she said.

I was in a fabric store in Portsmouth, NH today with a friend and I was checking out with my three spools of all-cotton thread that is hard to find.

Kathy's latest quilt (courtesy: Kathy Nolan Deschenes)
Kathy’s latest quilt (courtesy: Kathy Nolan Deschenes)

My friend Erika and I had been poking around the store looking at all the pretty fabric and I was dreaming of my next quilt. When I started seeing a life coach, we talked about many things that I want to accomplish, not just a change in career.

Getting back to quilting was just one of those things. And I’ve been on a roll with a queen-sized quilt that I start 4+ years ago but put down due to caretaking and work commitments.

I asked the quilt-shop owner some questions about the thread based on the type of quilting I do – hand-pieced and hand-quilted which is different from machine quilting in many ways.

When she said there weren’t many of us left, she was right. I know other quilters and, with the exception of my friend Lynne who taught me how to hand-qulit, none of them do all the work by hand.

I’ve often thought that the art of hand-crafting is being lost in our society. We do lots of work with our hands still but it involves electronic devices. We don’t even teach our kids cursive writing any longer.

The shop owner who looked to be about 10 years older than me, said that she used to hand-quilt years ago. When my friend Erika asked her why she gave it up she said simply, “Arthritis.”

My heart sank. Is this my fate? Do I only have 10 years left to do this thing that I love so much? If so, I better get to work!

My mom always lived her life as though she would live forever. I’m not saying that I am awaiting death but I also don’t kid myself that at 56 I have all the time in the world to accomplish some bucket list items.

It’s a trapeze act, these mid-life years. Honoring and appreciating the wisdom and experience that you’ve gained over 50+ years shouldn’t exclude you from gaining more in the time you have left. It’s easy to sit back and relax. Never pushing the envelope, always playing it safe.

The trick is to suspend reality just enough to allow yourself to act as if you have forever while bringing along what you’ve learned in forever.

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