Kindred Crosses Quilt: A Birthday Gift to Myself

It was a bleak mid-winter day in mid-February. The kind of day where the sky is a sick sort of whitish-gray but refuses to snow or rain or do anything cozy. I sat in my sewing room sipping my morning coffee feeling adrift in my sewing life. Despite keeping up with crochet and learning to knit that winter, I couldn’t understand why my “sewjo” had flown south for the winter.

But, as the warm caffeine buzz washed over me, I realized something. I didn’t want to do anything but the actual act of stitching. I didn’t want to baste or plan or make decisions about fabric. All I wanted to do was stitch.

Kindred Crosses Quilt

Just at that serendipitous moment, my eyes fell on the decorative storage box that held my Kindred Crosses quilt. A lightbulb went on. I remembered that the only thing that quilt actually needed WAS stitching. The layout had been decided over a year before, and all of the rows were organized. So, all that remained was to stitch cross blocks into rows, add joining squares to each row, and sew the rows together.

When I had attempted this task in the past, it had felt overwhelming. I knew the finished quilt would be at least queen sized, and I had already spent ages putting together the larger half of the quilt. But, this time, it felt not only inviting, but exciting—a feeling I hadn’t experienced related to my stitching life for a good while.

Revisiting an Old Friend

So, I took a sip of coffee, and pulled the box off the shelf. I unhinged the latches and peered inside. I smiled. The pretty floral fabrics, lovingly stitched not only by myself, but dozens of quilters from around the world, warmed my heart. I pulled out the small corner section I had started, and realized it was bigger than I had thought. Also to my surprise, I had already completed the next row. It just needed to be added to the corner section. So, I set to work.

Just Keep Stitching

Over the next few weeks, I just kept stitching. As it turned out, my favorite part ended up being the long stretches of seams adding the joining squares or sewing the rows to each other. No thinking, no planning, no stopping and starting to add blocks. Just stitching.

As I worked on it, I didn’t always need to take stock of how much progress I was making because I enjoyed the process so much. But, now and then, when I felt like I had been sewing the same seam forever, I’d lay it out on my dining room floor. And, every time I did, I’d realize that I had come so much farther than I had left to go.

Staying Motivated

Towards the very end, I hit one of those snags where I just couldn’t motivate myself to keep stitching the longest seams of the whole quilt. But, then one evening before bed, I decided to just lay it out on the floor one last time. The final rows had been sewn to each other, and they only needed to be sewn to the large corner section before being ready to join the other half of the quilt. Laying it out did the trick again! It sparked my determination to finish it.

Those final two seams were so surprisingly gentle to work on. I’d work in sections as long as the length of four lengths of thread would take me. (I like to thread several needles at once so I can keep my momentum going.) As I worked, it seemed like my needles flew along those seams!

Kindred Crosses - My Birthday Gift to Myself

And, so I found myself on a Saturday morning, the morning of my 38th birthday, with just one section on the longest seam of the quilt left to go. Without any fanfare, before I knew it, I was at the very last bit between two squares. Matt happened to come into my sewing room just at that moment, and I told him where I was. He offered to record me as I stitched it. Quietly, steadily, humbly this quilt top reached completion.

Over five years in the making, compiling stitches from quilters around the world, and cataloguing adventures and losses, this quilt is a gift. So much more than a quilt, or even a work of art, this quilt reminds me of redemption. When my life was in chaos like a box of fabric scraps, the healing didn’t come quickly or on my own. It took a little bit of stitching, a generous dose of kindness from others, and the steady, quiet pace of putting one foot in front of the other to make it through to the other side.

Even then, I’m not sure I’m fully on the other side of some of the chaos and heartache of the last few years. But, I have to say that this quilt has been with me through a lot of it. And, to see the quilt top finished feels like an omen of hope.

The Story Behind My Kindred Crosses Quilt

I’m looking forward to quilting it (my plan is to hand quilt it!), and finding just the right backing. But, in the meantime, if you haven’t read the origin story behind this amazing quilt, be sure to check that out below.

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