My Handmade Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt, photo by Heidi M. Kim
My Handmade Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt, photo by Heidi M. Kim

There are cooks, and there are bakers. I’m a cook. Most of the time I enjoy cooking (unless I’m wrapped up in a story, then I’m an amazing taker-outer). Depending on my level of commitment, there are days when my Better Half tells me that I’m a good cook. Even on those days, I’m a good cook but not an exceptional one.

Even more than exceptional cooks, I have intense respect for bakers.

Bakers are creative while respecting the rules of science. Good cooks, even great cooks, can cut corners and substitute ingredients and play fast and loose with the rules. Sure, there are still rules and guidelines for the best way to tenderize meat or deglaze a pan for instance, but bakers have to infuse their creativity within the constraints of chemistry. Fats and oils and sugars have rules, rules that no one can break and still bake.

Quilters are bakers of sewing. I’m an occasional sewer. I can mend, fix a hemline, sew a button or take on small projects. Becoming a good quilter requires patience and tenacity and experience. Making a good quilt involved measuring and planning and seam allowances and precision all while incorporating creativity. I am not a quilter. I’m a corner-cutting, make-it-work-with-what-I-have-on-hand, MacGyver-esque cook.

In a fit of amnesia combined with creative-craziness, I decided to make a quilt for a writer-friend who is expecting her first and long-awaited baby. Thanks to my old phone camera, the mistakes are not very visible. Hopefully though, the love that went into this painstaking mess does shine through. Every crooked quarter-inch seam wobbled into place only because I couldn’t stand to give up.

For now I’m going to leave behind the precision and planning and pursuit of perfection that seems to power Quilters. Instead I’m harnessing that core of determination—and taking it back to my writing.