Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More from my hopeless chest

While unpacking, I came across another handmade item from my hopeless chest: a little quilt I made for the baby I'd always wanted but never had.

I made this unfinished blanket back in early nineties when I was still hopeful about having a family. At that point in my life, my enormous fabric stash barely fit in a walk-in closet so cobbling together the rainbow of colors wasn't difficult. I envisioned this design myself and cut the original pieces out of newspaper until I had the exact size and shape I wanted. My work friend, an avid quilter, was helpful and encouraging, too. Looking at it now, I love the design. I'd choose a different border fabric; it looks very dated to me, but the rest of it is fresh and wonderful.

My original idea was to hand-embroider part of an e.e. cummings poem on the border. It would read: "maybe god is a child's hand very carefully bringing to you and me and quite without crushing the papery weightless diminutive world." Cummings' version had all sorts of stops and starts and strange punctuation, of course, but I believed this baby quilt would benefit from a more straightforward message. I was right.

As you can see, I never finished the quilt - ironic and symbolic considering I always wanted a child. I still do, even though this possibility is now long past. My dream went unfulfilled and my baby quilt did, too. How sad and poignant.

This is not the only infant item in my hopeless chest. Somewhere around here there are baby hat and mittens I knitted, too. When I find them, I'll share them with you.

They say it's never too late to have a happy childhood. Is it too late to have a hopeful chest? And if the answer is no, what belongs in mine?


  1. This quilt is fabulous! My Grandma made beautiful quilts, sadly though she lived 10 hrs away so I was never able to learn from her. :(

    What do you hope to have later in life, get it now and put it in your chest. If I was going to add to mine I think I would add a book on how to clean anything. I need a lot of help in that area. And when I strike it out on my own I wont have my Grandmother (who I live with) to lecture me anymore! :)

  2. Finish the quilt for yourself, and use it because YOU are worth it. I hope one day you can look at it and say "What a pretty thing I made!" instead of dwelling on "what a sad promise broken."

  3. Beautiful. Why not give it away to a new mother who will REALLY appreciate it? Someone who perhaps doesn't have resources to buy nice things and is needy? Or to a friend who is a new Mom.
    I think if I used it for myself or had it in a place where I could see it all the time just sitting there, I would cry every time(i am a crier).

  4. Beautiful quilt, Julie. I agree that the border is very dated and I think it distracts from the simplicity of the center. I hate the concept of a hope chest mostly because I heard so much about it as a girl from my mother, who went on endlessly about how wonderful it would be when I met my "Prince Charming". Her idea was that I would create a hope chest full of expensive and beautiful things that could ONLY be used after I found Mr. Charming, after which my life would be automatically fabulous and endlessly wonderful because of him. It was a terrible fantasy for a little girl and an awful burden for Prince Charming.

    Enough of my hang-ups, though...back to the quilt.

    I think it would be great if you could remake the quilt to fit who you are now and who you have become. Can you take off the 80s border and the embroidery pieces and do soemthing different? I'd keep it simple so it doesn't distract from the center part. Maybe a wide, pale border with some fantastic quilting for texture/interest? Or, finish the quilt as you originally envisioned it and give it away as a gift. In any case, I think it would be healthy for the quilt to move on as you have so that it isn't a reminder of what you used to dream of, but a symbol of who you have become.

  5. Thank you for the insight, all of you. I'm thinking of cutting off the embroidery and the 90s border and then just doing a simple binding. I'll turn it into a wall hanging and put it in my office.

    I think it's time to put this baby to bed, so to speak. I wanted a baby, I couldn't have one, and that's just the way it is. No sense crying over spilt milk. Neither of these last two puns was intended, btw!