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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Once more unto the BEACH...

Four years ago, I had a dream... a "Mariner's Compass" quilt, with a big, bold, and beautiful Compass Rose AMIDSHIP, surrounded by an artist's simulation of the ocean, and around the edges...

Ah! Those beautiful quilt blocks! With the names "Ocean Waves", "Wild Waves", "Storm-at-Sea", "Beacon Light", and "North Star."

In the beginning, it was going to be a wall hanging. (It very nearly turned into a SCUTTLING... but I digress...)

In order to get all those border squares in the sequence I wanted them, they had to have a finished size of 4 inches. Four inches square. I did my first one by machine. It not only did not finish at 4 inches, it could by no means be called square, even by someone with severe astigmatism! At this point Hubby suggested a working title of THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND.

ALL AHEAD FULL, I did the next square by hand. Results - worse.

I enlarged the finished size to six inches and tried again. At which point my Quilting Pal and chief explainer-of-what-I'm-doing-wrong came over and said "HOW SMALL?! ARE YOU NUTS?!"

So I was persuaded to make 12" blocks... and the quilt would now be a bed cover. AYE-AYE!! I started my first block. It, too, was somewhat... dare I say WAVY...

So another Quilting Pal of mine reached a deal with me. In exchange for HER doing all my difficult patterned blocks, I'd quilt something for her, everybody wins.

In two weeks flat she handed me back the borders, all enthusiasm, ready to SET SAIL, as it were....

BUOYED by her optimism, I entered the quilt in the Salon 2008 and it was accepted. At my winter quilting retreat I made myself a deadline: make the ocean center, and get all 4 borders attached, or the Mariner's Compass quilt would be AWASH. I worked like a SEA-DOG. AHEAD FULL. Ripped strips, added here, pinched there... And by the end of that retreat, all 4 borders were indeed attached to the (mostly) square center.

As it hung from a frame at home, dutiful Hubby helped me get it to hang straight. Well, straighter...

I began to put the Compass itself together, and proceeded to satin-stitch it to the quilt. The center rose like a TSUNAMI. Three and one-half inches high, it was soon obvious that FULL ASTERN was required.

I made a second Compass, with better basting and heavy stabilizer LASHED to the back. This time, the Compass only rose two inches high. DROP ANCHOR. Hubby and I conferred (argued) for hours. Days. The ship was ADRIFT.

At this point we were also trying to come up with names for the project. "Full Seam Ahead" very nearly won! "Titanic - the Quilt", "The Quilt of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "Anchors A-Weigh", "Wavy Navy", "Bismark", "The Good Ship Start 'n Stop", "Quilt Overboard", "The SS Minnow", "Leviathan's Net" ... and many others. Please feel free to add your own!

A third, and final version, a thread-painting of a Compass EMERGED from the DEPTHS, with only a slight LIST to STARBOARD. Once more UNDERWAY, I had my surgery, and took a week off because I could get it, needing the time to get the quilt top finished so I could put it on my machine and get it quilted. T minus 3 weeks. 21 days to delivery.

At T minus 15 days, I realized what dutiful FIRST MATE (Hubby) had been carefully not saying, in tender PRESERVATION of his life: namely, that the quilt did not sit flat, and if I didn't fix it, we may as well ABANDON SHIP.

I had the brilliant idea to stuff the extra bits, creating three-dimensional waves gently rolling over the surface of the quilt. This caused the entire project to twist like a vortex. We were LOST AT SEA. Working title now became "SOS."

So I took it all apart. Undid all the quilting, detached the borders, started over...

T minus 13 days, it's back in one piece, considerably improved, and I EMBARKED once more upon the quilting machine...

It was such a rough ride, I was SEASICK. This was the period wherein I discovered how I SHOULD have been adjusting the tension on the machine..(see blog of May 6.) T minus 3 days, FIRST MATE makes my continuous bias for me, because I'm terrible at geometry...

(Yes. I'm a quilter. And I'm terrible at geometry. "Why, you ask, did I pick this particular form of..." Shut up.)

T minus 2 days. I start to do the binding. And make the "sleeve" the thing has to hang from. And the labels, for this quilt and for the other one, which is also not finished...FIRST MATE attached the binding from one end, I from the other, approaching, dare I say, like TWO SHIPS IN THE NIGHT?

By the time I handed it in, I'd been up for 40 consecutive hours feeling like I'd been LASHED, and tottering in on not-quite SEA-WORTHY legs.

In the end, we called it "SAFE PASSAGE", because that's what we all needed.

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