It’s getting cooler outside, which means it’s more fun to snuggle up under a quilt or blanket at night.
Maybe with a cup of hot cider.
I love the fact that my son will often reach for the quilt on the back of the couch to snuggle under while watching TV.
It’s a simple nine-patch quilt, and there’s nothing fancy about it, but the blocks were hand-pieced by my great grandmother and my her mother.
Then my grandmother stitched them together on a machine using fabric from her stash.
Somehow, she never found time to quilt the top.
After she died, the quilt top landed with me where it waited in the cedar chest for years, until I finally came to grips with the fact that quilts don’t magically quilt themselves.
At first, I thought about getting the local church ladies-aid group to quilt it. Then one day I felt a twinge as I looked at it.
Hmmmm….maybe it was time to give quilting a try?
I talked my mom into sewing the backing together (so it would be a five-generation quilt), bought myself some hand quilting needles and thread, scrounged up some cotton batting, and took the plunge.
I hoped maybe I’d get lucky and it would turn out to be genetic — turns out it was.
So, the fact that this nine-patch is a five-generation quilt is one reason it’s special.
But that’s not the reason it’s my favorite.
It’s my favorite because it’s my first — the quilt that represents a leap into the unknown, trying something totally new and different with no guarantee of success.
And here’s biggest reason this is my favorite quilt: it shows such progress.
I started quilting in the center, so when I fold the quilt into quarters, it’s easy to find where I began.
Even without all the folding, it’s easy to see because those first stitches are long and irregular. The closer to the edges of the quilt I got the more even my stitches became, the smaller my stitches got.
This quilt is a time capsule.
It’s a concrete way of seeing progress being made over the year it took me to finish that quilt.
When I compare the stitches on my current projects to that first one, I can see just how much my quilting has improved over the years — how much I’ve grown.
And that same thing is true of anything!
So when I look at my current work — writing, quilting, gardening, or whatever — I see all the places I’ve fallen short. A typo here, a wrong piece of fabric there, a thriving bunch of weeds in the corner.
Then I step back and take the long view of my personal history.
Even though today might be difficult, I’ve got a 100% success rate on getting through difficult days (because I’m still here).
And even though sometimes it feels embarrassing to look back (think yearbook photos!), it’s only by looking back that we see how far we’ve come.
These days I choose to think of yesterday’s failures and missteps as souvenirs of an interesting life. And when I look at those souvenirs like that nine-patch quilt, I see I’m making progress.
If you look, I’ll bet you’re making progress, too.