One Foot

One Foot

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Working the Scrap Basket



I am an avid quilter and produce many small projects a year.  I love to read and the books read and unread line up across the wall.  I always seem to have something to do and a place to go, but when a cold winter day comes along, my body senses that this is a time to take a break.  Perhaps it is a left over genetic trait related to hibernation, for I yearn for a task that will rest my body and brain and relieve me of self-imposed demands.
           It is on such a winter day that I do what generations of farm women have done  – they “work the scrap basket.”  Doesn’t every woman have a scrap basket?  This is the disorganized heap of fabric created from sewing projects or disassembly of donated clothing with the idea that “someday” one will organize it all and make an heirloom quilt or a rag rug. 
            I imagine I am typical of others who let that scrap basket get to near overwhelming size, but this winter I have tackled it for the third time in my sewing history.  One year I had worked with batiks for gift quilts and the remaining miscellaneous scraps were too valuable to toss.  That pile became a lovely square-in-a-square quilt.  Another year I had basic cottons that became a tessellated pineapple quilt. This year, I am attempting a strip quilt and am determined that I will keep making pieces for that quilt until the scrap basket is empty.  I am beginning to wonder if that will be in my lifetime, and I am certain that the quilt size will exceed king-size.
               Why would a modern woman, perfectly capable of buying fabric endlessly, mess with scraps of fabric?  The answer for me is that working the scrap basket calms me.  There is something pleasing and quiet about the near mindless task of touching the fabric, fitting it into a simple pattern, and seeing scrappy beauty come about.   I can play with the pieces for hours.
          I might also admit that when I play with my scraps, I don’t watch television.  I might have some quiet music on the stereo, but I play without the environment pounding on me.  It is similar to taking a good long walk in the woods – you walk for a while; you think, you sing, and before you know it, you’ve come up with something creative.  So it is with my scraps.  My mind is seemingly grateful that there are no quilting rules to follow.  There are no color specifications.  The pattern is simply mindless once selected.  And actually, I don’t even care if there is a “finished” quilt resulting. 
           I am convinced we ought to work a lot more scraps in our lives than we do.  I know others who find their scraps in the garden.  Others find their scraps in puzzles, car repair, painting, fishing, etc.  For a few hours, we enjoy simplicity, not complexity. 
          My grandmothers worked their scraps because they lived on isolated farms, but now Grandma is more apt to be at the senior center playing bridge (or pool).  Whatever the lifestyle, we need a few quiet and peaceful moments in a day.  My mind is one that needs to do a little resting and healing and benefits from those moments.
           On days when I don’t feel like working the scrap basket, there is always the possibility of writing a little rambling piece like this.  I can always end it with…..”now, where was I going with this?” 
           Just like the process of sewing those scraps together into a whole, one just never knows.  It’s the process that brings peace.

1 comment:

  1. You are an amazing woman...you have found multiple areas of your life in which you find rest. Thank you for sharing your life with your readers. I love your insights.

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