We spent a quiet weekend on the hobby farm.
My husband woke up late Saturday morning after working nearly 'round the clock all week on a big project. I woke up early Saturday morning after holding down the fort nearly single-handledly all week.
I tiptoed past the girls' rooms like a teenager sneaking out of the house at night, avoiding the creaky floorboards and barely breathing. The baby could sense me passing. I froze in place and waited for the quiet rustle of turning over in her crib.
I just wanted to putter in my kitchen, walk around the frosted farmyard with a steaming cup of coffee as the sun came up, check on my seedlings, and get my sewing machine warmed up. I had a little Valentine dress in store for Gracie and Laura, not to mention the quilting retreat of next weekend.
The puttering went fine. I reorganized my baking center. I bleached out the sinks. I dug through the bread box and gave the chickens a Saturday feast of crumbs and bread heels.
The frosty sunrise walk was as though I'd pushed a re-set button on my weekend. The garden is mostly still blanketed in mulch. My cold frame with garlic and salad seedlings is cute as can be. The horses followed me along the fenceline between garden and paddock, nickering for breakfast and pawing at the frozen ground for emphasis. I was sure the house was ready for breakfast as well but it was hard to go back inside.
I just knew there'd be something wrong with my sewing machine.
I've been quilting for almost 20 years. I started machine-piecing blocks in college as a way to avoid studying for finals. I moved on through strip quilting (hah hah hah... sounds like I was wild in college... anyway, for non-quilters: this means quilting with strips of fabric, not removing one's clothing to quilt) and hand applique. I flirted around with machine quilting for a while but wasn't really pleased with the results.
Almost every aspect of quilting is relaxing to me. I love the fabrics. I love the repetitive steps of piecing a block. I love arranging the blocks differently to see the quilt's potential finished beauty. I love the magic of a finished top emerging from the machine, shaken out and left on the back of the couch to admire before the work of making a quilt sandwich for backing and batting and binding.
So when a friend invited me to a hush-hush, exclusive quilters' retreat for this coming weekend, I knew something would go wrong.
First I was worried that I'd get uninvited after I lost my friend's 4-year-old child (however briefly).
Then I started losing sleep in earnest when I received the six pages of instructions. It's a mystery quilt, an original design by the famous quilter who hosts the retreat. I am instructed to buy certain yardages of certain color values in three separate color groupings and cut them into specific widths. I am instructed to burn the instructions after reading (just kidding).
The retreat is next weekend. I am sworn to secrecy, which of course means I'm gonna try to sneak my camera in and beg for blogging permission. I can tell you this: All quilters will arrive Friday with their sewing machines, rotary mats, fabric. All quilters will leave Saturday night with a finished quilt top.
Crikey. That doesn't sound remotely relaxing.
The brochure (book) even has scheduled time for walks in the woods and meals and snacks and chatting. Are they KIDDING?
I'm going to arrive with no clue of the quilt's design and LEAVE WITH IT FINISHED?
Panic sets in. The meditative walk at dawn, the quiet kitchen organization, was all for naught. When it got time to get the sewing machine out, I just knew. something. would. go. wrong.
There's no truth to that self-fulfilling prophecy idea, is there? For a full hour on Saturday I was sure my feed dogs (sewing machine part that feeds the fabric through at prescribed speed) wouldn't go back up. I flipped the switch. I consulted the manual. I unplugged the machine. I cried. I even wielded a screwdriver in my frantic state. No sewing machine, no retreat. My husband actually asked me to leave the room, such was my anxiety level.
Um. Did you know that feed dogs go up and down in a rotating motion as they feed the material? So they might actually be "up" and ready to work, even if they appear to be "down" ....
Well, friends, bear with me in my starstruck crafty freakouts. I'll try to sneak you some pictures.