By Kristen Banks
You know I’ve never thought of myself as a quitter. In fact, I have a little twinge of anger rise up inside of me at the mere thought of throwing in the towel on anything I actually care about even a little bit.
However, I have been known to put things off occasionally. I’m by no means a habitual procrastinator either; in fact, I’m kind of the opposite. I rather like to meet things head-on, and take the bull by the horns so to speak. Even if I encounter a challenge now and then, I like to get things done and move on to something else. But occasionally, now and then, once in a while even, something really gets my goat. Every once in a blue moon, I encounter a task that is either so intimidating or so exasperating that I have to step away from it for a long, long time or risk losing my sanity.
We’ve all got those projects, that for whatever reason, we just can’t seem to finish. Whether it’s because we’ve encountered a technique that’s ‘over our head’, we’ve messed something up, or simply can’t get up the courage to put in the time and effort it’s going to take to finish the difficult task, we all have that one project that’s sitting in a drawer somewhere covered up by other mistakes and half-finished work. And some of those projects will continue to sit there for an eternity, or until we toss them out and move onto something new and better.
For me it’s a non-paper pieced Mariner’s Compass with a floral appliqued background. For some that won’t mean much, but if you know what I’m talking about, you’ll know that’s a rather ambitious project for any quilter. It’s really ambitious if you take into consideration that I started this project several years ago, when I was a much less experienced quilter.
I’ve been telling everyone for some time, that I’ve been working on this quilt for about four years now. Then my sister pointed out last fall, that I’ve been saying that same thing for a couple of years. Honestly, I have no idea how long I’ve been working on this quilt, it’s been so long now, who could even remember?
You see my Mother saw a Mariner’s Compass quilt, and fell in love with it. She, being my Mom and all, thinks I am amazing and can do anything. So when I asked her several years ago what kind of quilt she’d like me to make for her, she of course chose the most difficult kind. I tried to tell her that I wasn’t up to the task of making this level of quilt yet.
She was sure I was wrong and just being modest. She was mistaken.
I had no business attempting this kind of quilt with such little experience. Royce, the lady who taught me to quilt confirmed this, and felt like the techniques were a little above my skill level at the time, but knowing how determined and hard-headed I am, she agreed to show me how to do it anyway. In retrospect, I should have listened to her in the beginning. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you should always listen to those that are wiser and have more experience than you, they tend to be right.
Anyway, this one quilt has pretty much been a nightmare from the beginning. This quilt would have been very challenging to execute for an experienced quilter, much less someone who had no experience with these techniques before at all. When I got the center medallion put together for the first time, it was plain to see we had big problems.
It looked so bad, I immediately called it, and said, “This one’s done; it’s going in the trash.” Royce persuaded me to let her take it home for a little while, to see if she could help it at all. She brought it back to me a few weeks later, after apparently performing some kind of miracle. It was still a little ‘off,’ but in such a way that you would never know it, unless you DID know it. It looked pretty good to the eye.
So, I plunged back in. I got the whole top put together, and I’ll spare you all the details on that, but it was akin to navigating a gauntlet blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back while hopping on one leg in the middle of a blizzard. Very tricky business indeed!
To add insult to injury, the quilting has proven to be as hard as the piecing. While the quilt is really looking good, there are still many inconsistencies that have to be accounted for and navigated around.
I’ve had times during this project that it would have felt much easier to throw in the towel and to scrap it altogether, I really could have made my Mom any number of other quilts in the time it’s taken me to NOT complete this one. But I’m invested in this one now, I love that quilt, and it means something to me. I’ve put too much time and effort into it to give up on it now. I’m going to see this job through and one of these days I will see that quilt as a finished masterpiece hanging on my mother’s wall.
This whole process has made me think of how God must see us, because we are His masterpiece. Think of how He must feel when we don’t listen to Him and we make a mess of everything after He’s put so much time and effort into us. I’m sure it would be much easier for Him to scrap us, and to start all over again with people who are more ideal and less of a mess, but He loves us so much that He doesn’t give up on us and He keep’s working on us.
Plus, unlike me, He has the ability to put things back perfectly when errors are made. And make no mistake He will see the job through to the end, because He loves us and He’s invested in us. He won’t leave us half-finished buried under past failures hanging out in a dark corner somewhere.
When I finally finish that Mariner’s Compass, I’ll hang it proudly and I won’t show it to people as a flawed work. In my eyes it will be perfect. Because the flaws that still remain will be covered by the beauty of the finished work, and I’d like to think that’s how God sees us too.
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