Tuesday, October 04, 2005

JK: Quilting Connections

I had thought perhaps that libraries were that place where women connected best through the years but now I’m thinking it’s in quilting groups. I’m not a quilter by any means but I know many women who are and they’re treasures, every one.

One of the metaphors out of quilting I love best is the definition of a Crazy Quilt as “organized chaos.” When I’m in the final chaos of revisions it feels like organized chaos. I’m most extended then, overcome with clutter and detail, trying to make sure I’ve not changed the eye color of a character half-way through or given her a back story early that I never use. I’m trying to see the big picture while stitching every detail into place. Sometimes it’s as though I’m wearing one of my husband’s work boots on one foot while standing barefoot on the other.

My life seems crazy, a hodge-podge of color and shape and texture but there is order there if I just seek it. Order as in Jeremiah’s words saying God knows the plans he has for us, plans for good, to give us a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11). The offer of an encouraging word just when I needed to hear it. The kindness of strangers lending their teaching skills. The nurture of laughter. These moments that seem disparate really aren’t. They’re patches of a kind, threaded together to form the quilt of who we are.

I was once invited to a quilters retreat to talk about stories in our lives. The women brought their sewing machines and materials and they worked away while I talked about the power of story. A few women convinced me I could quilt and I ended up staying up well past midnight working on a “nine patch” with its blends of green and brown, not colors I usually choose by the way. But I noticed the postcard featuring the cover of my book Hold Tight the Thread that I’d been using as a bookmark was designed in browns and greens and beige. Somewhere in my subconscious when I selected my “fat quarters” to make my little quilt creation my mind chose colors of my story, a book of both holding on and letting go. Out of the chaos of my life came something creatively connected. How serendipitous is that!

I hope you’ll look for the serendipitous moments of your creative day today. That word means “the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.”

Here’s one last tidbit of detail that serendipitously arrived: Blood spilled onto a quilt can be neutralized with the spit of that same bleeding soul. Isn’t that amazing? Our own spit can wash away blood better than water or even some high-tech stain remover. All right, so that may seem like a useless piece of information – unless you’re a quilter who has just spilled her blood on a work of soft art. Then, knowing how to get rid of the stain becomes pretty important.

I don’t remember who wrote it but someone once said that to become a writer all you had to do was “open a vein and bleed over your paper.” So perhaps there are more links to writing and quilting than I’d earlier thought! So sew away.

Jane Kirkpatrick, author of A Land of Sheltered Promise and Homestead. www.jkbooks.com


At 11:12 AM, Blogger Domino said...

I enjoyed your words. Thank you.

I once made a tiny lap quilt with my great-grandmother. Now I listen to experienced writers as they help me piece together the colorful fabric of my story.

If I'm writing from my heart, then I must be bleeding on the paper.


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