Monday, November 16, 2015

The un-done done!

Ah, victory! Those three big projects I’d picked out to complete, the ones I’d written about before – they’re done! Or at least two of them are. I still can’t remember what that third one was.

The thing about finishing a quilt in your Third Thirds is your eyes. I need to take off my glasses to thread the needle on the sewing machine, put on my glasses to sew, take off my glasses to inspect the stitches. Look around for the glasses, put them on.

The whole quilt project was an exercise in reckless ambition. I signed up to take a quilting class back in 2011. But then, just before the class, I decided I didn’t want to practice on any old fabric. So the night before, I started a quilt.

I thought I could “whip one out.” I have no idea why I thought that. But I started one … and there it sat. I ended up learning to quilt on fabric scraps.

By the time I vowed to finish it, I couldn’t remember how to attach the binding around the edges. I’d never done that before; it was a New Thing. The notes I’d made at the time were no help:
Fold binding along 45°, line up raw edges. (Rotate piece so stitching is at top.) Fold back on itself so fold at top is 1-2 threads below edge.
So off I hopped to Peggy’s house. Peggy even blogs about quilting so she made me a little paper model of my binding, folded 45° this way and that. Oh, she said, don’t forget to use your walking foot.

That was pull-out-the-manual time. This is a walking foot. If you don’t put the walking foot on right, you break a needle. Now I know how it’s really supposed to go on. You need to take your glasses off to get the walking foot on.
But then I did it! I attached my binding … until I reached a part I couldn’t remember. Back to Peggy’s house. Quick – before I forgot again – I finished it!
Next I had to finish mounting all my old Daily News columns (339 of them) into hand-made books. That meant needing special giant-size paper called “parent sheets.” I used to love going into Frontier Paper and poking through the paper samples, but this time they explained that paper isn’t really happening any more. It gets stale so they don’t keep much in stock. A paper-poor Third Third….

Forging on, I settled on a paper variety and began cutting the columns so I could paste them onto the pages. Somewhere during that process, my paper cutter disappeared. I don’t know where it went. I have the sneaking suspicion that it somehow got into the mixed paper recycling box with all the scraps and ended up being recycled.

 With a new paper cutter, I finished them all. All that remained was sewing in the pages of the last volume. Then I just stopped.

I don’t know why that happens. You paint the whole room … and then stop before putting the switch plates back on. You hang all the pictures on the walls, put the hammer down … and leave it sitting there for months. It’s like the motor powering all the exertion just … quits. (Am I the only one who experiences this?)

So then you have to really push to get your momentum back. After months of repeating “finish binding” on my to-do lists, I just DID IT!



  1. There are lots of ways to break a needle. I speak from experience.
    Doesn't it feel great to complete a UFO (Un-Finished Object)?


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