06 September 2011


better than a store-bought kit

I spent a couple of hours searching nearly every unpacked box in the house looking for a notebook binder of CDs I'd burned before my pre-millennium computer bonked for good. We’d moved into our house two years earlier, at the beginning of cycling season. For whatever multiple reasons, we still have yet to unpack. So searches such as this have become commonplace.

I needed a very old photo, pre-digital, and I hoped it might be on one of the hundred or so CDs I cranked out of my old Gateway before it breathed its last breath. I didn't want to search 16 boxes of photos if the one I needed had never been scanned. I didn't have time for that, and I didn't want to open the cans of worms some of the old photos might contain. Going through old photos often brings out a few long-forgotten emotions.

Finally, I was down to one unopened box. Labeled "winter," this huge box could not contain the CD binder. No way. I had packed this box in another lifetime, before I even owned a Gateway computer. Yet I opened the box anyway. It was the final box yet to be opened from any of my moves in the past... maybe three decades, I suspected.

Fleece, blankets, coats, Christmas fabric, more fleece and more Christmas fabric. Wow, I forgot I'd bought all that fabric after Christmas one year. Long, long ago. Back when I still had little ones at home for whom I could make quilts.

The bottom layer on the box almost glowed. Radiant in being found, it reached into the deepest, darkest corner of my mind and yanked me back to the day I packed the box.

Yes, that particular packing day was traumatic, but this find made up for all the heartrending memories. There at the bottom of the box was the collection of snowflake fabric I'd begun as a teenager. I'd started a snowflake quilt before adopting my first child, then worked on it again after adopting a second. Every once in a while, life would slow down just enough for me to finish off one more square, then back in the bag the project would go, awaiting the next morsel of free time. This went on for years. Then both kids ran away. Everything got packed up so my townhome could be sold.

quilt squares to go

That was eight years ago. I have searched for that snowflake fabric many times since then. I wanted to finish the quilt I'd started. I wanted to make a tree skirt. I wanted to embark upon all kinds of snowflake fabric projects. I’d added more blue snowflake fabric to my collection each January as it went on clearance. But that initial stack, the fabrics comprising so many of my early years, was nowhere to be found.

Until I needed an old photo!

After this year's race to finish a small snowflake quilt for the Denver National Quilt Festival, I'd decided I would take a month off from quilting, then start on next year's entry so I wouldn't be cramming at the last minute again. I had a few ideas. I bought a bit more fabric. Snowflakes, however, continued calling to me. I still longed to finish that old quilt.

Once I found my treasure lost, I couldn’t wait to get started. But cycling season had taken control of my life. I worried the fabric might get lost again, for maybe another decade, if I didn’t keep it out right in the open, where I could see it on the rare occasions when I was home before bedtime.

While training for Pikes Peak, I dreamed one night I made it to the top, and I was surrounded by media microphones and cameras. “What are you going to do now, Ms. Lanterne Rouge?” they all inquired, Super Bowl- and World Series-styled, expecting a Disneyland reply.

“I’m going to finish a quilt!” I excitedly beamed.

Now the two fantasies trade places. Pikes Peak goes back in the dream pile, and the snowflake quilt comes out for a jaunt to a finish line of its own. I’m hoping to finish this baby up before Christmas.

Oh, and I found the CD binder, too. Safely stored beneath the bed, right where it should have been. The photo I needed was in there. So all the rest of our boxes get to stay packed. For now.


  1. It's a great feeling when you find something that has been lost for a long time :)

  2. A race of splendid beauty she has won all for herself! What a truly wonderful find, and continuation of long ago past, what could be better? Of course they are also of all my most favorite colors too, I say you won the GOLD!

  3. Aaahhhhhh... I am speechless!!! Emotioned kisses.

  4. What an interesting story...memories and so on...

  5. powerful memories and joyful fabric.

  6. I know what you mean about old pictures bringing up forgotten emotions...

    I have one of your snowflake fabrics in my stash! It's been there since the 90s and I've only ever used one tiny piece of it, in a small wall hanging I made for my sister. I recognized it as soon as I saw it in your picture.

    A good time to start a quilt.

  7. Hopefully plenty of inspiration for more snowflake patterns too :)

  8. I love this story. I love that you would dream of celebrating an occasion by making a quilt. That is going to make a very beautiful quilt.


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