We have a few hanging plants on the back porch and every year birds will nest in them. Our kitchen table is a front-row seat to watch the miracle unfold. From the first twig to the first bouncing flights of the nestlings.
We stumbled into this rural lifestyle by chance. My husband, Chap, and I both grew up in the suburbs and moved to Austin so he could attend grad school. We fell in love with the people, food, and culture and started looking to buy a house. Our search gradually expanded as we saw our money could go further outside of the city limits. After almost a year of searching we found our little hilltop, about thirty minutes from Austin.
It’s with these fresh hands that we’ve become caretakers of wilderness. Season by season the land has become more essential to our lives and the people we want to be. I remember a week after moving out here when Chap declared he would no longer allow spiders, bugs, and snakes to creep him out. And he’s pretty much stuck to it! These intentional decisions to live among our surroundings, instead of fearing them, has helped us fall even deeper in love with the natural beauty surrounding us.
But everyday here is not a fairy tale. The summers are brutal. Sometimes we’ll go a month without rain. The garden was mostly a bust this year, only producing a handful of tomatoes and peppers. And our daughter, Ada, turned four this year so we’re more cautious of the venomous snakes, wild pigs, and bobcats we share the property with.
I’ve become aware that my daughter’s birth transformed my artistic practice and how I think of myself. I had been running fullsteam, spending nearly every minute working. That abruptly stopped when Ada was born. I was left caring for this new love but also second-guessing my decision to take a break from my craft.
I’m finally feeling like I have some time for my projects without feeling guilty. It’s taken this long to feel comfortable with my identity as both a mom and an artist. That’s one of the reasons I’m delighted to share this project with you. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to take time for yourself to do something you love. I’m hopeful this format can be flexible as you find time to make progress on a quilt.
Like most people I know, my days feel packed with routine frenziness where everything seems important. I’m forced to do so much that gets undone each day. Cooking, cleaning, washing, folding.
I find slow satisfaction in making a quilt. It gives rhythm to routine as piece by piece it comes together. The time required to complete a quilt can feel medieval, but when you’re done, you have a physical reminder of how simple life can be.
This project is my little pebble, tipping the scale back a tiny bit, away from the modern distractions and towards a life of significance and time spent on things that really matter. I'm certainly not the first to teach quilting and I'm not the first to say we should slow down, but I'm hoping that these pages will encourage you.
You can make this quilt.
I will show you exactly what to do. Don’t worry about the final product right now. Take things one step at time and the quilt will take care of itself.