Bolt From The Blue, Part I: Patchwork Therapy.

posted in: Quilting 16
In process. Patchwork and photo: Me.
In process. Patchwork and photo: Me.


There was a moment today when I thought, “Fons, you’re toast. As in crispy. As in burnt. Out.”

There’s just so very, very much to do. There’s the newspaper and the writing tutoring the university pays me to do. There’s the heavy coursework I manage as a student and the lectures and classes I lead as a teacher (the latter implies travel 90% of the time, of course.) There is home maintenance to attend to and there are bills to pay. It’s tax time. Most importantly,  there are relationships to care for: friends, family. Other friends. And that’s all stuff going on right now, which is to say nothing of projects and dreams in the pipeline, all of which contributes to the constant hustle, which leads you to the overwhelming question: “What comes after this?” As a freelancer, you have to constantly ask.

For the first time in many weeks, I slept in today. I awoke, to my astonishment, at 10:30 a.m. and had two emotions at once: joy, because I knew my body was thrilled; and mild panic, because the morning was already gone and I had done nothing.

I made tea like I normally do because that is Always The Very First Thing No Matter What. As the kettle heated, I stared at the wall — specifically, my design wall.

Last night, once my work was done for the day, I made a few star blocks just for fun. I have needed for a while to look at something different up on that wall and I have yards and yards of this wonderful electric blue Moda solid in my stash that has been pleading with me to use it. The block I made, a Sawtooth Star, is something I can make in my sleep at this point; I didn’t even have to look up the measurements. After I had four blocks or so, I stuck them up on the felt wall and went to bed.

After my pot of tea this morning, I tried to read. I tried to write. I couldn’t focus. It was nearly half past 11 by the time I had been tea’ed and I felt sullen and agitated — a highly unpleasant mix that I attribute to being overextended. This was my first “day off” in weeks but it didn’t mean I didn’t have a thousand things to do. All it meant was that I was home and could stay put. I didn’t have press to go to for the newspaper; I wasn’t at a conference as an attendee or a presenter; I didn’t have a date with a friend or gentleman caller. I was free, and theoretically, that should have been good but I didn’t like how shiftless I felt, how unscheduled I was. Sitting still is not easy for me and though I need some downtime, I’m so not used to having any, I was spiraling into a real funk. Before I got too jumpy about it, I went to the sewing table and picked up my stars.

There was still a good amount of staring into space that happened once I got there. But what began to happen in time was rather remarkable: A quilt that I absolutely love began to form with astonishing speed, right before my eyes. And everything felt better.

The star block, when set on point, goes a long way in making a quilt top come together quickly. When I cut setting pieces for my 8″ finished blocks I remembered how awesome it is work that way. I was making serious tracks on this sucker! The row-style I was interested in playing with zoomed into fabulousness when I did a reverse contrast thing with the navy blue next to the electric blue. When I did that, I literally clapped my hands. What can I say? I love this quilt.

I looked up the word “surprise” in the thesaurus because I really was surprised by this day and by this quilt and I wanted to find a name for it that reflected that. (Naming quilts is one of my favorite things in the world because: words + quilts.) The phrase “bolt from the blue” is listed in the entry for “surprise” and I think that’s pretty accurate, don’t you? This quilt came out of the blue — and it’s, you know, blue. And fabric comes on bolts. I probably don’t need to keep explaining.

Tomorrow, part two of this post. And a contest. Because the other thing that came out of this quilt was a dream of you. Yes, you!