Me and My Husky-(Part 2)
To begin this sewing business is right up my avenue. Being a Virgo, I have an inordinate fixation with orderliness and precision. Annie always manages to conceal her confusion when I go off on this particularly intriguing tangent, as she envisions some of my personal spaces, after an eight-hour period of time, but she keeps any hint of surprise-or treason-carefully at bay in the nether regions of her mind.
Seriously, though, that orderliness that Annie emphasizes, works just fine for me. I am the one who has done the dishes after every holiday meal served in this house, for the last thirty years, partly as a mechanism for being able to handle social obligations, but also because that old saying, “Out of chaos, comes order, when used to describe Virgos,” applies to me.
Now I am working with Annie on Mahlon’s quilt, and I am thrilled. The more plodding (and boring) the task, the more it piques my interest. I hauled one hundred and twenty wheelbarrows of topsoil, out of the manzanita grove, when I was forming the lawn, an oasis of green the size of a postage stamp, but beautiful nonetheless. I cut, by hand, one wheelbarrow of manzanita wood every day for the last eighty-five days of inclement weather the last year I taught, because I ran out of wood, had no chain-saw, and no loot to acquire either one. I’m not proud, just pragmatic. Baby steps do not bother me; I live for incremental results, because it amounts to the same thing, forward progress, at a reasonable pace.
I keep track of things in my head, that most people find amusing. How many wheelbarrows of concrete did I haul during the formation of that foundation? How many shovelfuls of soil, does it take to fill the back of my truck? I can supply those answers, and more, just as I can supply dates of events that occurred thirty years ago. As far as last week goes? Whole different ballgame.
I told Annie, while working on the quilt, that if she were smart, she would give me all the crappy jobs that she hated, and she almost choked, she was giggling so hard. Oh, I see. Mission accomplished.
In yesterday’s post, I was talking about sewing two squares of fabric together, one placed perfectly atop the other, and the intricacies of using Annie’s Husqvarna chainsaw sewing machine. I had drawn a diagonal line, using a ball point pen, on the top of each pair of squares, and had to follow those lines in sewing the two squares together. Having to sew in a straight line, not only works for me, it would be an affront to suggest otherwise.
Why was I sewing two pieces of fabric together, one atop the other? Each of those twenty squares in the quilt block pictured above, which contains two triangles, represents the squares I was working on. Look for the points; it may be hard to see that each point shares its square with a white piece of fabric, forming the points. By taking one of the two flaps of the top square of fabric, and flipping it to the side, lining it up with the one beneath it, I take the pizza dough cutter, that serves as a scissors, and cut off those two triangular pieces that are flipped to one side, one-quarter of an inch away from the sewn seam. That leaves the remaining square, precisely sewn diagonally down the middle, dividing the two different pieces of fabric, into two triangular shapes. I sewed one hundred and twenty of these pairs of squares.
Some of those little squares are sewn onto longer strips of fabric, to form those same little triangles, only as an integral part of a longer, two and one half inch strip of fabric. It goes back to what Annie said about taking large pieces of fabric, and cutting them into smaller pieces, only to reassemble them. Out of chaos comes order. If we are going to aim for either nine, or even twelve of those squares, sixteen inches by sixteen inches, that’s a quilt that will be close to six feet by six feet, including borders.
That is a lot of planning, measuring, cutting, and sewing, and not necessarily something that everyone can do. For instance, there aren’t a lot of men who quilt. I’ll bet that surprises you. Yeah, it did me too.
However, sewing’s not much different from putting together a structure. The parts still have to fit together evenly, regardless* of whether they were assembled using thread or nails. A gap is a gap is a gap...
Annie was telling me a story about my middle son, who is very proficient on a sewing machine, and as a middle schooler, spent consecutive electives working on a quilt, which he completed and has with him today. At one point, when his brothers were joking with him about it, Ben cracked a smile, and said something to the effect,”Yeah, you guys owe me, for taking one for the team.”
In a household dominated by guys, and masculine baubles, Ben was simply allowing Annie to vicariously oversee activities, that she might have had more opportunity to view, if she had brought a daughter into the world. He also did a college project on the quilts used during the Civil War, which were utilized to convey information to fleeing slaves, trying to get North. His presentation included a wall hanging, which he created for the presentation, with six different quilt blocks. This one hangs in our house.
Sewing is like anything else that can be performed by either men or women. There are no rules except for the ones you choose to employ. Around this house, if it works to have Annie doing texturing and painting on the new addition, while I sew pieces of material fabric, then damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, and isn’t that just like a man?
* Regarding regardless, or that paragon of faulty logic, the “word” “irregardless.” I explained it to my oldest son once, as being a case of once is good, twice is better, not applying. Because “ir” means not, and “less” means without, it’s like saying I have no regard-never-for whatever is being discussed. It kind of, sort of, might possibly annoy someone, at some time or other, though that person would not be me. After editing as many middle school essays as I did, I will never notice/criticize others' errors in grammar, usage, or spelling again. You can take that to the bank and get cold hard cash for it.