I now have my quilt 'sandwiched' and am working on quilting. I finally landed on a pattern that I'm happy compliments the design and have no problem spending hours with the hoop and needle. But when I put the top and batting and back together it was with a little twinge of regret.
Of course I'd been eager to get to quilting but I had also relished putting all those pieces together. Hand piecing, instead of machine piecing was at times tedious - especially when I made a mistake or changed my mind about and wanted to change something. But it was also contemplative - I would get into a zone when doing those long side seams that, if I had been sewing with a machine would have zipped right by. I am proud of this quilt in a way that I never have been after machine piecing, especially when looking at it from the back. And when the quilt is all put together like it is, I will never see the back side again.
The back of the quilt top is where you see all the work. When I looked at all those thousands (maybe millions?) of stitches, I saw where I ran out of black and had to use red, and then green. I saw the places where the stitches didn't quite follow the lines I has carefully drawn to guide my needle. I am not fastidious about snipping threads or trimming ever seam perfectly. I do not make ever corner perfect (although I think I did pretty well in this project - another product of working by hand, I think). But I found myself in awe not of the front, which (I hope) I'll get to see for a long time to come, but of the back.
I loved looking at all those stitches. They represent hours. And the beauty of hand quilting is that they don't represent hours sitting at a table in a small room, as they would have if my machine had been working. They represent hours in coffee shops, on airplanes, and cars and trains, in church. Hours with people and by myself. Hours with my family and with friends. Hours waiting. Hours in conversation and in silence. Hours praying.
In this quilt, like no other I am aware of and thankful for every stitch and every minute. By the stained-glass shapes of those pieces and stitches I give thanks to the Creator for shaping a creative people who, like her can say, "it is good."