Thursday, June 11, 2015

Piece by piece—Carolyn R. Wilker

I’ve always admired the craftsmanship that goes into quilting, especially those quilts that look like works of art. Like the quilts auctioned off at the Mennonite Relief sale each spring.  My style, up to the last quilt project, has always been hand stitching around the design elements of a fabric panel.
My eldest daughter asked if I would sew a quilt for their new baby’s crib.  She wanted a fairly simple design that wouldn’t take me endless hours to complete, but with colours that match the baby’s room. One day before Christmas, we went to the Creative Sisters Quilt Studio in Kitchener. A young woman named Jemcah helped us find suitable fabrics. We had a lot of fun playing with the fat quarters, arranging the colours and patterns.  When we came upon the design she liked best, my daughter took out her cell phone and snapped a picture.
I found a background fabric. “What do you think of this?” I asked. The large pattern mirrored one of the small print squares. My daughter loved it. Jemcah and another shopper I happened to know helped us to figure out the amounts of fabric to create the design. I was getting excited about sewing it.
            My goal was to have the quilt done before the baby was born. Like carpentry, one measures several times and cuts once. Unlike carpentry, the fabric had to be washed first. I got it done in time, enjoying the process and the final product. It gave me the itch to try something else, eventually.

quilt on baby's bed
A particular quilt shop is offering the chance at making a mystery quilt. You get all the fabric at once and the first set of instructions. Each month, the shop sends a new set of instructions until you have the whole set.
I was thinking of signing up, but with Write Canada conference coming up and being on faculty, I didn’t know if I should take on an extra project, so I decided to wait.
 Good news came on Monday—the deadline has been extended to June 20th.  After conference, I really could drive out to Shakespeare and pick up my packet. Hmm.
 I can choose from a main colour in red, blue, brown or some other colour. Then someone at the quilt shop will choose coordinating fabrics in light and dark to go with it. What colour shall I choose? What will this quilt look like when it’s done. Ah, but that’s the secret.
The newsletter promised that the pattern only requires basic cutting and piecing skills. So what is there to worry about? Except that I like to see what I’m getting myself into and have that next book to finish.

What does quilting have to do with faith? At first glance, unless you sew, it may not be immediately obvious. It's about the stitching together of many parts. In our faith, we have to do our own stitching. Not literally, but we put the pieces together out of what we know and learn. We may have guidance of a pastor or parent, but we don’t just get it handed down from our parents. We have to do our own work.  
 A small child can only handle the simplest concept, such as “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Sing the song as young as three or four for the first time—or much later. Even adults often grapple with that one when troubles crop up.
As we grow, though, we start to “get it,” especially at the “head” level. It can take awhile for it to reach our heart, and if we’re brave, we ask a whole lot more questions and try bigger leaps of faith, just as I’m considering with this mystery quilt. Maybe.
This may be a lesson for me too. I’m not sure this is the right time for me to take on such a daunting project. Writing is a piece by piece project too, in a way. A collection of poetry or chapters for a book, created one at a time.
 There will be other quilting projects to tempt me come fall and winter. This summer I plan to write and spend time with family and friends. And garden.
 Until next time, remember, whatever you’re learning, to build it carefully, piece by piece.


Carolyn R. Wilker is a southwestern Ontario based writer and editor with an interest in gardening, sewing and, of course, her family.


Peter Black said...

A well-stitched together piece by piece post, Carolyn. (*P-Pep!* rules, eh! :)) Thanks for sharing these valuable analogies to lessons in life and for one's growth in the Christian walk and understanding. Really enjoyed it. :) ~~+~~

Donna Mann said...

As one who is sharing a room with you at Write! Canada, living our faith with each step of our waking moment and definitely enjoying a love of quilting, I read this blog with a personal interest. The quilt you made for your grandchild will most likely be shown to others generation after generation and become known as Grandma Carolyn's gift. Like faith, these gifts are a treasured heritage.

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Thanks Carolyn. Beautiful quilt and beautiful thoughts.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thanks, Peter, Donna and Rose for coming by and for your kind comments on my post.

David Kitz said...

My mother loves quilting. She donates as many as 100 quilts each year to Lutheran World Relief. Your link of faith to quilting is appreciated.

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