Longarm Quilting, New Quilters, Quilting

Wonky Stars

Christmas, the season of stars, is now behind us. But I still find myself thinking about them. Stars, that is.

Especially that star. The star. The one that led shepherds and wise men to a manger in Bethlehem. The one that Jesus slept beneath on his birth day. A perfect star, a perfect light, a perfect night.

Perfect. How often does that happen in everyday life?

Never, in my experience. People aren’t perfect. Life is messy. Stars fall.

And yet, the imperfect is enchanting. Human beings fumbling forward, flailing, and falling short of perfection, every time – there is wondrous beauty in that, once you get over being offended by the fumbles.

In his book, Writing with Power, author Peter Elbow introduces a “meditation on wrongness in language” that I like. He writes about how people often use the wrong words at first, but if permitted to proceed, can use those wrong words as stepping stones to the right ones.

How do we manage that? The key is in the “permission to proceed.” If the person we are communicating with will simply choose not to be offended by our wrong words, be patient, and wait for the right words to emerge, then a deeper, truer understanding can be achieved.

It is amazing to find a person with whom you can have such free conversation. It is rare.

Permission to proceed, then, means: permission to be imperfect. Mistakes allowed.

In quilting, too, we must give ourselves permission to make mistakes. To experiment. To abandon our perfect points, and perfect quarter-inch seams and make something more off-kilter. Something a bit wonky.

Quilter and art teacher Gwen Marston, author of Liberated Quiltmaking, embraces the wonky like no other quilter I’ve seen. If you haven’t read her books, I highly recommend them. Her “liberated stars” are pieced improv style – no precision required, no perfect points. The result?

Twinkling stars.

That’s right. Wonky stars twinkle.

The uneven points create the effect. One of Gwen Marston’s students, Lynn Harris, even designed a quilt to showcase the twinkling. The “pattern” is included in her book Every Last Piece (also highly recommended).

Fumbling, flailing, and falling is what makes stars twinkle. Remember that the next time you are worried about your mistakes, problems, gaffes. You’re just twinkling.

My lovely sister, Anna, made a wonky star quilt a few weeks ago for my cousin Eric. Made with flannel squares and wool batting, it came out soft and cuddly. I quilted it with a simple meander with some extra twinkly stars, and filled in the large wonky stars with what my husband calls “Pufnstuf” swirls. 🙂 They do look like 1960’s artwork, don’t they?

My New Year’s Resolution is to keep twinkling! Hope yours is, too.




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