Patterns of warmth and color

A picture of our quilting group will probably never be found in a history book, or even carried in a wallet. It is a picture slowly evolving, gradually coming into a sharper and clearer focus as the group itself evolves. It is a picture too full of energy to lie quietly and too full of sharing to pass un-noticed. If printed, the picture would show six of us. We are neighbors and friends drawn together by a desire to slow our busy lives down a bit and, at the same time, to produce something both functional and beautiful. We've finished one quilt that we all agree is a splendid piece of workmanship. The blue and burgundy of the calico stars shine out from the cream-colored background, while the carefully stitched circles draw it all together.

In working on the quilt, our meetings were not always regular, though the format was fairly consistent. One member would be in charge of refreshments, so the meeting was opened with us sitting down to eat, to jest, and to catch up with one another. The joys were applauded, the disappointments dredged for any sign of good. After we had marveled over the food and pledged to compile the recipes someday, the dishes would be cleared away and we would proceed to the work at hand.

Our initial meetings were taken up in endless discussions of how-tos and in determinations of who owned a sharp pair of scissors. Since that time, we've learned the basics of marking, of cutting and piecing little triangles and squares until a full pattern of warmth and color emerges. It often seems that the colorful patterning of the quilt is a mirror of the group itself. Each of us brings different skills, talents, and children to the meeting. Balancing all these elements (especially the children!) is part of the liveliness that sustains and invigorates us.

After about three months, the top was finally pieced together. Eagerly we pooled our resources, ordered a frame, and prepared to ``quilt.'' The day arrived when the frame was assembled and the quilt was properly pinned and basted onto the filling and backing. Triumphantly we attached it to the frame, pulled our chairs around, and began to stitch. For almost a year we met and stitched on the first quilt. During that year we found that, as in many endeavors, ours developed a further dimension.

Our careful little stitches bound the fabric, to be sure, but they also brought us together, kept us close enough to help each other, and reinforced our willingness to try new directions. During that year, too, we fretted over each mistake, but when we held the quilt up, finished, not one mistake could be seen. The glory of the whole had banished each minor misstep to its proper place -- unnoticed and unnoticeable.

We have since begun a second quilt; the first one gently covers my bed, generating warmth on many levels. It is a daily reminder that while history books may not record us, our notices will be written in the deeper friendship we share and carry with us in our ever-expanding (but closely stitched) lives.

Sallie Strauss Maron

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