Poem #27

The Rules of Quilting

for Elisma

At your sampler quilt course

I learnt the basic rules

of quiltmaking – the shortcuts

and where corners can’t be cut.

Like the grounding of grammar

or of mathematical theorems,

one must know the methods and formulae

of cloth and stitchery.

You taught us how the time-worn

designs of traditional quilts

were originally hand-sewn 

from scraps, in thrift and for warmth.

Those resourceful women named

the patterns they patiently pieced,

created templates that have stayed

like well-loved tales in a storybook.

Railfence, Little Red Schoolhouse,

Logcabin, Drunkard’s Path,

Flying Geese, Wild Goose Chase,

Granny’s Fan, Nine Patch, and more.

Starting with Railfence – the simplest one –

you showed us how to cut and sew

our way through strips, squares, oblongs,

triangles, circles, stars, and crazy patching,

all the while teaching the use of colour,

its tones and hues, how to create contrast

by following another kind of grammar

contained in the cogs of the colour wheel.

True teacher, you let me stray

with my outsized blocks, warned 

I’d struggle to make a neat squared-off quilt, 

corner to matching corner.

But helped me anyway to devise

a rural scene of houses and fields

with baskets of fruit and friendly stars 

– a nice blanket for our Hogsback bed.

Nice Blanket.

15 thoughts on “Poem #27

  1. Oh, your poem and that quilt brought back sweet memories of when I was first learning quilting and took my first sampler quilt class! I made similar blocks. Years ago I gave that sampler away as a gift but I sort of miss it and feel wistful when I read your lovely poem 🙂


  2. Beautiful Mariss, both word and quilt. In this case the process and the product are a lot more than nice, but still ‘nice’ is comfortable. Keep creating xxx


  3. Mariss, you know I’m your biggest fan – great ‘beginner’s’ quilt (tho it doesn’t look it) and poem about the learning journey.
    One of my first to give-away gift quilts was a queen sized scrap quilt of my own design intended for use in our family’s A-frame cabin on top of a mountain in the remote back country of Colorado (my folks built it) way back in the day. I knew it would be in ‘primitive’ environs and was fine with that as it was a scrap quilt after all…When all was said and done, my folks refused to take it to the cabin and instead covered their own bed at home and slept under it…I was more than honored…it is very tattered and worn now. I didn’t know what had happened to it after first Ma passed in 2007 then Dad in 2016, but I found it neatly folded in their cedar hope chest at the foot of their bed while sorting through the house and getting it prepped for sale.
    Just seemed a similar tale to tell alongside yours!


  4. I am honoured to have you as a fan and am touched by your story. I am sorry your parents have both passed on, but glad to know that you found the precious quilt which they slept under for all those years.
    Here’s to many more quilts and family stories xxx


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