The Rules of Quilting
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.