I stood at the center of my quilt Walking in Circles, This American Life on my ipad, and pulled the needle and yarn through the middle square. This is called tacking it’s a way of holding the quilt and batting together without stitching it. It’s another way to quilt.
There’s less space in my new studio so as I walked around the quilt to pull the needle through the back and tie it, I had to push the quilt back like a curtain. It touched the wall on one side and my table on the other. I did this a few times, but it seemed so much more cumbersome than the quilts I had worked on in the past. There was no flow, usually this process becomes almost a dance between me and the quilt. But this quilt is bigger than I usually make and the fabric thick and heavy and the space around it close. All that movement became slow and difficult.
I’ve been making quilts in this same way for years, but this just wasn’t working, I wasn’t enjoying it, it felt like a chore. I don’t know where the idea came from, but I thought why not stand in front of the quilt and pull the yarn through to the back, leave it hanging and tie it later. This would require cutting short pieces of thread and threading the needle each time I pulled the yarn through, but why not try it. (It would be really easy if I could just tack it from the back, but I like to see where the dots of yarn will show up on the front of the quilt). It turns out threading the needle each time is easy and I don’t know if it’s actually quicker, but I enjoyed the work more and it seemed easier.
The whole thing surprised me. I never expected I would figure out a whole new way of working on my quilts today. And there it was, no struggle, the idea came to me as if I had been doing it that way all along. I don’t know if I would have come up with this new way of tacking in my old studio, I didn’t have to.
Someone recently wrote to me about wabi-sabi. It’s the idea that impermanence and imperfection are the natural order of things. I think I’m finally getting it and beginning to welcome it. You don’t “get there” and stop, you “get there” for a little while, then go somewhere else.