Monday, September 17, 2012

One Giant Leap....

As I mentioned in my last post, while the boys went on to the second cave tour, Kim & I took The Adventurer, who was surprisingly all "adventured out" by then, to get ice cream. We stopped at a small quilt shop on the way, where we browsed a bit and I bought a little fabric. Not a ton, not at this shop. Some fun fat quarters (quarter yards of fabric, cut differently than a normal quarter-yard) and that was all.

From there, Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat for my patient sweet boy. Grandma Kim is pure genius when it comes to kid-appeal. She has set the bar high for birthdays; already my Artist is lamenting the fact we won't be at her house for his birthday this year, and wants to know can't I make a cake as good as hers rather than buy one from the store. Sadly, no; pretty sure if I tried to bake and make my own frosting it would still not turn out quite that well.

Back to the ice cream, this was Kim's genius idea. She very stealthily told my sweet boy that if he'd sit quietly in the quilt shop, we'd get ice cream after. This was announced to me somewhere around the time we walked out to the parking area when we were finished shopping. Here I'd thought my plan (let him take his hand-held video game in the store) was the reason he'd stayed so quiet; nope. It was all for the ice cream. Does she know how to "Grandma" or what?? (yes, yes she does.)

After our ice cream break we headed back to the campsite. Only, we got detoured past a 2nd quilt shop (HeartSong, in S. Dakota). And that.....that was a little stroke of destiny, or fate, or serendipity, or something. Because I wasn't planning to buy stuff. I knew that once we got over to Texas, I had a very large purchase to make (a new machine, already reserved for me) and that I had very little room in my budget to actually buy fabric. Plus I knew that once I got to the TX shop, I'd surely find fabric I needed to buy; that store is huge and amazing. So, I wasn't planning to buy very much at all.

Until I walked in and saw this:

This quilt stopped me in my tracks. Jaw dropped. Mouth, hanging open. One syllable escaped my lips -- Wow. Actually, I think I actually said "Holy Cow....." and then just stood there. Gazing. Van Gogh's "Starry Night" -- in fabric. Wow. Even now, I can stare at the photo and just be mesmerized. This quilt....this stunning beauty....would not let me out of its grip.

Starry Night Quilt -- HeartSong Quilts, Hot Springs S. Dakota
I glanced at the pattern package; pattern and the templates for cutting those curved bits. Not a bad price, $30 or so, but more than I wanted to spend. Add in the 16 fat quarters needed, plus the border fabric....this would eat up my entire fabric budget for the trip. Only, I knew I'd still buy fabric in Texas, so what this really meant was it would put me over budget by a significant amount.

See, per my request, The Chemist gives me an allowance. This is really just a line in the budget that designates how much I can spend freely each month without worrying I'm impacting the need portion of things, and is an easy way for me to be sure I'm not overspending. The Chemist, being the generous guy he is, gives me a pretty good amount. And, being the understanding guy he is, he accepts and allows the boys and I to overspend on our US trips; i.e, he gives us an advance on our allowances. Still, I didn't want to go too far into the future. He wouldn't care, this was my own personal limit.

So, I tried to ignore the quilt. I wandered the store several times. I probably walked the perimeter, staring at bolts of fabric, three or more times. Without truly seeing a thing. I sat with The Adventurer who was getting a little bored. I watched Kim shop. I looked at all the other quilt samples on the walls, which I'm pretty sure were beautiful as well, but I don't remember. I didn't really see anything. I begged for something, anything, to grab my attention away from the quilt, which was money I didn't want to spend. And on a kit. A kit of all things!

Now, my friends assure me that this was not truly a kit. The fabric was not pre-packaged with the pattern and templates. It wasn't. I got to choose my very own fabric. But. Something in me -- perhaps the artist or designer side of me, perhaps just the part of me that has always rebelled at being the same as everyone else -- really rebelled at the idea that I was going to buy a pattern, and make it in the same colors as the quilt on display. I was going to copy a quilt. A quilt that, so prominently displayed, probably a lot of other people were copying as well. I was going to make something just like everyone else. I shuddered, cringed, and figuratively ran from that idea. It was this, even more than the money, that I fought against as I walked through the shop, trying so hard to find inspiration somewhere else, anywhere else.

Eventually, as The Adventurer's patience wore thin, I gave in. I picked up the pattern. I shopped for the fat quarters. I decided I would do some moons and some suns, so I chose half of my blues as daytime sky colors and half as nighttime sky colors, and half of my yellows as bright noonday suns and the other half as silvery midnight moons. I assured myself that this was enough of a tweak so as to not be doing the exact same quilt. I browsed the dark blues looking for a border fabric, and while the helpful attendant cut my fabric for the border, I gave one last glance around the room.

the pattern, and the fabrics I chose
the border fabric is on the bottom

And then I saw it. Clay roof tile fabric, perfect for my Brazil quilt. I had walked past that fabric at least 10 times and yet I never saw it; that is how distracted, how hypnotized I was by the Radiant Suns pattern, the Starry Night quilt. I quickly requested a yard or yard & a half, I forget which, of the clay tiles fabric as well. And then I stopped looking and paid. Even more than I thought it would be, but I knew if I left that store without that pattern and fabric, I'd spend the rest of my life trying to recreate it anyway. I knew that I'd regret not buying it way more than any regret about over spending, and I was right. Even as I came home and entered my purchases into our budget program, even as I calculated when I will next actually get an allowance, I sighed a happy sigh that I did, in fact, bring home my Radiant Suns/Starry Night non-kit.

It was a small step; something most quilters wouldn't bat an eye over. And some quilting friends have assured me that there is much to be gained from following a pattern -- knowledge. Tricks. Tips. Skill-building. And I know they are right. They've shown me photos of block-of-the-month and quilt-along projects, where everyone really is doing the same thing and yet the finished projects all still show the mark of their maker in their uniqueness, whether subtle or bold differences. And I am reassured, even though for me, it was a giant leap.

Have you ever experienced a "must-have" situation like this? What gripped you so hard you had to buy it?


  1. how wonderful for you. are you back in Brasil yet? I used to shop at the TG&Y fabric shops, they had a huge table for remnants, and I would make my little ones dresses and shirts from the remnants. there would be bit and pieces for (remember the 70s) for a dime or 15c. Now I don't even mend.... I am positive you could make your own patterns. I agree with the allowance issue. I also have an allowance (again now that I stopped working) which I very seldom use, I have a huge savings, which I turn into dollars for my trips in the USA. Hugs.

  2. Oh there are many reasons for 'following instructions to learn tips/tricks etc.' I assure you all your friends are right! Not just for quilting but for any crafting including cooking of course. Looking forward to seeing the clay tile fabric and the not a kit quilt.

    Yes, there was a time a quilt has grabbed me like that - in 2005 when I bought fabric for the ragged edge quilt which sits quietly for me to have the time I thought would come as the kids got older. I'm still hoping... I need to actually make the time!