Thursday, 18 September 2014

A stitch just in time

Daisy's quilt, detail

As a journalist, I live by deadlines - three a night, to be precise. If I didn't meet them, well let's just say I wouldn't be a journalist for too much longer. It would be easy to say I thrive on deadlines, but in fact I am constantly stressed out, which can't be healthy. More accurately, I can't resist them.

So when I was asked to make an appliqued single bed quilt in only six weeks, one of which I had already booked as a holiday away from home, I was really happy. Sirens blared, flares went up, charts were rolled down from the ceiling, pins were stuck in maps, and the ticker-tape message went out to all agents: Valerie's on a deadline - it's takeaway meals, un-ironed clothes and unanswered emails until the all-clear sounds. When the deadline was brought forward by ten days, I was happier still.

Why do I like deadlines? Paradoxically, because I'm basically lazy. A deadline gets the adrenalin flowing and makes procrastination impossible. Also because, like most people, I find housework, bill-paying, admin and day-to-day chores boring and tedious. A deadline means I can put on blinkers, ignore the house and garden and put off opening the post, feeding the cat, stuffing mushrooms, going on a diet, worrying about a pension and trying to decipher the Meaning of Life, instead spending deliciously long hours in the studio with a clear conscience doing what I love: quilting.

Daisy's quilt on the long-arm quilter, aka The Beast

When I was doing my textile degree, which being part-time took twice as long as an ordinary one, I managed to put off all these things for six years (apart from feeding the cat). Three years after I finished, I'm still catching up. Because like all toxic addictions, deadlines lead to nasty hangovers. Those weeds, unwashed clothes, neglected friendships and threadbare carpets can only be ignored for so long - or until the next exciting project with a deadline comes along.

And what of the quilt, commissioned by a proud godmother for the Christening of a little girl called Daisy? I suspect that the lack of time focused my mind in a liberating and productive way, forcing me to concentrate and exploit what was to hand rather than indulging in second and third thoughts plus forays to the fabric shops in search of the perfect daisy print.

I handed it over this week, six days before the Christening.  Now back to the real world...

The finished quilt. By happy coincidence, Daisy's sister is named Lily

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