Saturday, November 05, 2005

Working out from the middle

I spent the afternoon basting Rachel's quilt yesterday. I had moved the dining room table and chairs and spread the quilt out on the floor. Then I got down on my hands and knees with my needle, thread, and scissors, and started the arduous task of basting.

A quilt is like a sandwich; in fact, that's what they call it, a quilt sandwich. First I have to lay the backing fabric on the floor and smooth out the wrinkles. On top of that, I spread the batting, trying to keep the backing fabric smooth while smoothing out the batting. Finally, I put the quilt top on all of it and pinned everything together.

Pins are great (and oh so sharp!), but they serve as a temporary fixative. To keep the layers together long enough to get the quilt in a hoop, I must baste it with thread. Every quilter has her own basting preference (including other options besides thread) but I usually thread baste a vertical line down the middle, a horizontal line through the middle, a big "X" from corner to corner, then a grid few inches apart vertically and horizontally. (As a side note, my age came into play again, as I am having more trouble getting the thread into that tiny needle eye.) The key to basting and hand quilting a quilt is starting in the very center and working outward. It's awkward that way, especially on hands and knees all hunched over on the floor, but you have to start in the middle so you can smooth to the outside as you go. If you started from the outside edge, you'd have a big wad by the time you got to the middle.

Since I was sprawled across the floor and crawling here and there for most of the afternoon (and my muscle soreness proves it), I had plenty of time to think. Lately I have been doing some list-making (at which I excel but lack on the carrying-through part) about goals and priorities. I think that having your priorities in place is like basting from the middle. Once you start with good, solid, clear priorities, it's much easier to negotiate the rest of your life. In others words, you get a much better result starting in the middle and working out than starting out working in.

I am reading a great article called "The Power of Clarity" I found on the Internet. After I finish it and think about it, I'll post some reflection. In the meantime, I'll give my pin-stuck fingers a few days to heal, be there when my new grandbaby is born on Monday, and talk about goals and priorities later. After all, I think a new grandbaby just jumped to the top of my personal priority list!

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