FP News - Laments from a Quilter's Husband

There Will Be Pins: How to be a Quilter's Husband
Submitted by Patrick Cook, the husband of Valorie Cook from Grand Rapids, MI


So your wife is a quilter. That doesn't seem so bad, does it? It's a nice quiet hobby, conjuring up images of our sturdy pioneer mothers, keeping their families warm and creating beauty out of old shirts and printed feedbags. You think of plump grannies in rocking chairs, piecing a Log Cabin block by firelight, cat asleep at her feet. An idyllic picture, right?


You're living in a dream world, buddy. They buy their fabric whole now, in yardage and "fat quarters" (whatever they are). They cut this perfectly good cloth into smaller pieces, and then painstakingly, by hand, sew them back together. This process calls into question all the advances of the industrial revolution.


Quilting generates a blizzard of debris. Fabric scraps and batting clog and burn out your vacuum cleaner. (Hint: don't go barefoot. Your feet were never meant to be pincushions). The cat frequently swallows a length of discarded thread. Soon, one of two things will happen; you won't like either of them.


This is not the end of your problems. There are frequent expensive trips to the fabric store, and even more expensive quilt shows in faraway cities. There are bees, which are little groups of quilters who get together occasionally to complain about their husbands and children. These bees may meet in church basements, but occasionally they come to your house and take over the dining room table. Your presence in the next room won't intimidate them.


Quilting also tends to take up more and more of the house. Sure, your wife might decide at some point that she has enough fabric. I've never seen this myself, but it could happen. More likely, your home will become a candidate for that TV show where some poor fellow's dead body is found under a collapsed pile of old newspapers. In your case, it will be a tower of yardage and color-matched prints.


As far as I know, there is no twelve-step program for quilters, but you may avoid codependency by following these tips:

  1. Set up a space outside the living area for the quilting equipment and fabric storage. I have refinished the basement, and we are moving everything down there. Other husbands have constructed pole barns, rented industrial space, or moved to another city under an assumed name.
  2. Have your wife make a small business out of her hobby. Internet sales can be lucrative. They might even partially make up for the enormous sums she spends. Very important: Do not participate in the business yourself. First thing you know, you'll be maintaining complicated machinery, acting as an errand boy, and dealing with the post office. You have better things to do.
  3. Don't be tempted to accompany your wife to quilt shows, thinking that time together will add spark to your relationship. You won't see her all day. You'll wander around aimlessly among the booths, finding nothing remotely interesting. Sure, you could meet other lost husbands, and find camaraderie in the nearest bar. Usually, though, a woman in a quilted vest will mistake you for a fabric vendor. She will try to hustle you for free samples.
  4. Don't try to distract your wife with other activities, such as gardening, cooking or housework. Though she may have done these things in the past, that's all over now. Quilting is her life. Accept your fate. Learn to cook and run the vacuum. Get a hobby of your own. You could join a softball team-slow-pitch, preferably-or learn simple carpentry skills. Then build a pole barn and move into it yourself.

Finally, remember you are not alone. There are plenty of other quilt-widowers out there.

 

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