The Way We Were and Why I Hand Quilt

Do you remember Barbara Streisand singing the song “The Way We Were?”  Those four little words are stuck in my head today as I sit in my house (not at work) listening to the radio with no Internet service or cable television.  I live in mid-Michigan, where we just had a record amount of snow and sub-zero temperatures.  People are being told to stay inside and not drive, and all schools, government offices, senior citizen centers and many businesses are closed.

I am lucky (at least, at this moment).  I have power, and while I can’t get on the Internet, I do have a laptop with power which allows me to at least write this post (which will be uploaded when everything is back in working order.)  Many other people don’t even have power.  My radio is on, and my clothes are tumbling around the dryer, almost ready to be hung up. 

I snuggled in my leather chair this morning enjoying the quiet and hand quilting on my latest creation.  I thought about technology and why it is that I love hand quilting so much.  So many people wonder why anyone still quilts by hand when we have fancy, huge sewing machines designed to do just that.  Why do we applique or piece by hand when most of us own a sewing machine?  Are we insane?
We live in a busy world.  It isn’t what I experienced when I was four years old, that’s for sure.  In 1960, we did have a television, albeit a black and white television.  I had to get off the couch to change the channel.  TV shows went off at midnight with the National Anthem playing (if you lived in the United States). Milk was delivered.  Microwaves had not yet been invented, so warming up a meal meant in a pan on the stove, which took more than a minute.

In 1960 our minds weren’t cluttered up with technology.  If we wanted to listen to a song and were lucky enough to have a stereo or hi-fi, we put on a record but had to turn the record over to play the other side.  We couldn’t plug our iPhone headphones into our ears and sit for days on end before we ran out of songs.  We drove our cars down the road with very few radio stations to listen to, that is, if our car had a radio. We couldn’t talk on our phone in the car.  We didn’t have Facebook or the Internet to communicate with other quilters from all around the world. We MAYBE had a few friends in our community who quilted who we could spend our time with. 
If you were a quilter back in 1960, a lot of pattern creation was done by the trial and error method.  Patterns were made out of cardboard templates (the back of cereal boxes) that were drawn by hand over and over to make them perfect.  Quilters used a yardstick.  They didn’t have plastic templates.  They didn’t have long arm quilting machines on frames.  If you needed something quilted, you did it by hand.  And it was relaxing, and it gave you time to think.

For me, the best part of hand quilting is having the time to think.  To ponder.  To go slow.  To unplug.  Lately, I have tried turning the television off more while I quilt just for the silence.  I enjoy watching what my hands can do all on their own.  I have remembered more things from the past by allowing myself this quiet time.  I have found myself being more creative in my thinking, which I can only think will help me improve as a quilter and artist. 

In being a hand quilter, I have restricted the quantity of quilts that I produce (as compared to what a long arm or regular sewing machine quilter can do). That means I don’t have as many photos to share on the Internet with my quilting friends from around the world.  That means in my quilt guild’s Show and Tell time, I rarely have something to show.  But I ask myself, 

What is the rush? Perhaps it is time we slowed down and got back to 
“The Way We Were.”


Note:  No cameras were harmed in the publishing of this article.

YAY! It’s a Quilting/Wrapping/Cleaning/Cooking Day!

image

 

I no longer work as a school teacher or principal, but I still love snow days, and today we have one!   Whenever Flint Community Schools are closed, my office is closed.  So… YIPPIE!  I have the day off due to an early winter snow/ice storm.  That means I have an extra day to prepare for Christmas with the family.  And quilt!  And hug my kitty (who is sitting on my lap as I write this).

Hope your day is a great one!  I’m going to put some music on and celebrate!

Hell HAS Frozen Over

HellYes folks, it has, indeed frozen over.  

Here in Michigan, and in other parts of the United States, we are in the middle of a deep freeze.  Today, schools in my area were all closed due to the low temperatures.  We don’t want students standing outside waiting for the bus or walking to school in sub zero weather. 

I remember as a child attending Elms Elementary in Flushing… second grade, I think.  There was an area of the school by the kindergarten rooms that formed a little inset area; a buffer from the winds.  At recess time after lunch, we had to go outside no matter how cold it was.  The kids would all huddle together in this area to hide from the wind and keep each other warm.  We’d stand there for about 20-25 minutes shivering until the bell rang and we could go back inside.  Funny how you remember things like that!

I live in Flushing, a little town just west of Flint.  It’s a nice area with a downtown two short blocks long.  Here’s a nice picture taken just after Christmas.  

downtown Flushing

My favorite time of the year to sit and quilt is on days like today.  I can snuggle under my quilt in my chair, warm and toasty underneath all those layers of quilt, and just hand quilt for hours.  I think I’ll head over there and do just that. 

quilt night