It only took one day of the new school year to send me to my sewing machine for a little distraction and comfort. There’s something about September, lovely as it is, that gives me a sinking feeling and for some reason it’s worse than ever this time around. I suppose that’s the other side of having such a lovely summer: it had to come to an end sometime. And end it has, and that now what shall I do today? feeling has been replaced with long lists of chores and uniform requirements and pesky timekeeping. It’s the busyness that gets to me – so many things which must be done that I never seem to get to the part of the day when I sit down with a book or a spot of sewing and just switch off.
But when the days spit me out, frazzled and ever so slightly cross, the evenings are there to pick me up again. Every night last week found me sewing: sorting through the scraps too small for Ilse’s quilt, wanting to make some order out of chaos. And thus a little crumb quilt was born. I’ve been meaning to make something like this for a while, to run down the centre of our kitchen table for the butter and pepper and water jug to sit upon. But I wasn’t meaning to make it just now, when so much else is new and demanding our attention. Not when Ben is going into his last year of school and making choices about what comes next. Not when Ilse is just moving up to the juniors. Not when there is a new schedule of music and dance classes, swimming galas and tennis lessons. Not when I have a garden to bring in and bottle, and windowsills of overwinterers to put out. Despite all my protestations, though, it appears that an hour or so just playing with fabric was exactly what I needed each and every night last week.
This promises to be quite a year for us, one way and another. There will be lots of things to balance. Everything is jostling for position, and some are already in danger of being squeezed right out. I’m keeping a close eye on the important things, like family meals and story time and long walks to think things over. After last week, half an hour in the afternoon with nothing more important on my plate than a scone and a cup of tea has become the most critical part of my day. I can’t lurch from one peaceful Sunday to the next, missing the weeks in between. I know much better than that.
Last week? Well, thanks to that little quilt, balance was restored, and it was bound and on the table in time for our Sunday roast. John says it looks like a story in a comic strip, just waiting to be written. Seb likes the little octopus in its wonky log cabin. And I? I only put in the things I thought should be there. It’s a bit chaotic, a bit colourful and mad, but it’s all quite carefully chosen. I’ve spread the fabrics out with a little bit here, a little there. And if you look closely you can see that there are seven blocks, in a pattern, connected with strips of this and that, and held together with something bold enough to set the requisite boundaries. A bit like last week, really, and the weeks to come. Oh crumbs.