Is perfection something you strive for? Have you ever asked yourself why?
Welsh quilts, antique Welsh quilts, were the single thing that cured me (yes, I’m being biased) of my striving for perfection. In my hand quilting, in my fiber endeavors in general. These days, I think most of us are familiar with the concept of wabi sabi – acceptance of transience and imperfection. But it took me years of battling with myself to figure out that “perfection” – perfect stitches, perfect symmetry – weren’t what I liked at all.
This is one of the old Welsh quilts in my collection. Early to mid 20th century, cotton sateen in a solid cheddar color on the front.
The back is a kind of funky print, which nearly obscures the quilting when turned to the wrong side.
The quilt is thick, heavy. Nearly pristine, actually. But nowhere near a work of art … or perfection. I love it, though, for it’s joyous use of color and it’s presence.
It’s simple, really. Lots of spirals and double lines – nothing fancy. Nothing “original.” But the overall effect is stunning.
Have you ever spent a winter in an unheated home? I haven’t spent one in Wales – I can’t even imagine! – but I have spent a couple in India. I love the mesh, the marriage, of warmth and beauty that this quilt represents. Utilitarian, yes – it’s at least 3x thicker than most commercial quilt battings. But just for keeping warm, it could have been far simpler – more basic designs. A bunch of straight or diagonal lines.
It follows a pretty classic formula for a medallion quilt: a central circular design, filler areas, and borders. But it’s a lot more, taken as a whole. Less than perfect, perfectly warm. Beauty, utility … irregularity, imperfection.
I’m taking a head-first dive back into blogging, after a very long absence. And my thoughts are probably a bit scattered – I’m way out of practice with writing like this. But I’d like to -I hope to – convey my appreciation for the beauty in simplicity, in utility. The cumulative effect that sincere effort has on a finished object. Not perfect stitches, not symmetry. Taken as a whole, some things mean so much more than their imperfect parts.