Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sylvia's Stars

Here's a look at Sylvia's Stars, the first quilt I made for my grandaughter. I started it as soon as I knew she was coming, before I knew who "she" would be. As I worked on it, every single patch, every strip, every stitch, was invested with all the love and hopes and dreams I have for this new person. Many of the fabrics are my own, which (since I am so stingy with the fabrics I dye and print and stamp) makes the quilt even more "special", at least in my mind.

Making a quilt for a new baby isn't what it used to be. Babies now are not supposed to have quilts (or bumper pads, or pillows, or soft stuffies) or any other loose bedding in their cribs, since it is believed that these may contribute to SIDS. God knows that I certainly would not wish a SIDS tragedy on any family, but I question whether a strong, healthy, vigorous full-term baby is likely to be adversely affected by having a quilt tucked over it.

Nonetheless, that is the recommendation that responsible parents follow. So as a responsible grandmother, you know that the baby will not have as intimate a relationship with this love-invested quilt as you might secretly wish; you of course are building a whole universe in your head, where the baby spends hours of its young life looking at all the shapes and colors, and bonding with the quilt, unable, perhaps, to even fall asleep without its warm & comforting presence, accustomed to feeling the love that seeps out of its fabric...and then, someday, unfolding it from wherever it has been lovingly tucked away and bringing it forth for its own first baby, telling that child how special the quilt was "when Mommy was a baby", and .... Well, you know it's not gonna happen like that - if the poor kid isn't allowed the comfort of a handmade quilt in its bed, you'd probably be better off just buying it a good book or something.

But you make the quilt, just as if its every stitch can actually bring all the love and goodwill you bear for the new little one right straight into her being. Quilters make quilts. That's what we do. Even if the quilt spends its life tucked away on a closet shelf, we are compelled to make it as if the child's survival itself depended on it. The making itself brings us pleasure, as it allows us to indulge in many happy hours of dreaming as we work on it. Whether or not it ends up snuggling the dear little baby is almost irrelevant - the process itself helps to make tangible our love, to solidify it in ourselves as we wait for the baby to emerge.

Besides, there are other uses than as bedding for a quilt. Here is little Sylvie, 4 months old, reading on a quilt my mother (Sylvia's great-grandmother!) made for her.