The Fiber of My Being With Anita Grossman Solomon: “Play Ball”

On this unseasonably hot and humid spring day in New York I’m thinking about baseball. As a kid I tracked Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris but grew up to marry a Mets fan. Still, give me stripe fabric over the color combination of cobalt blue and orange any day. Like most quilters in my position, I appreciated autumn baseball and prayed for a home team to reach the World Series. That could result in extra innings in my sewing room, sometimes into October. When I had seam ripping to do I’d join him in the den to watch along and rip. As the evening and I wore on, ripping my mistakes became more frequent.

Autographed Baseball

Stitch by stitch

One day he was almost out the door to walk to the American Folk Art Museum. In conjunction with the museum’s 2003 exhibition “America’s Favorite Pastime” the pitchers Tom Glavine and Al Leiter were to be present. I asked that he wait while I got a piece of fabric. My fabric filing system was, and still is, legendary. I reached for it beneath several different lengths of yardage draped over the back of a loveseat. Isn’t that where you store lengths in excess of 2 yards?

Without disturbing the pile, and with restrained flair, I extricated baseball fabric. Lickety-split I tore a off a piece, fused it to stabilizing freezer paper, grabbed a fabric marker and clipboard and asked if he might try to have the fabric autographed.

Baseball fabric autographed

Autographed!

A brother-in-law told me Glavine and Leiter were crafty (not Craftsy) left-handed pitchers. They figured out how to get opponents out, without strikes. Apparently, they painted the corners of the strike zone. Whatever. I still have yardage of that baseball fabric, but not the loveseat. The autographed fabric went to this nephew, at that point a grade school pitcher.

Boy with a quilt

Field of dreams

I made a “Courthouse Steps” baby quilt for his cousin, a younger nephew named after my late Father, who was an attorney. There are two special pieces of fabric in the quilt. One is the tan, green and beige plaid scrap from a dress my Mother always seemed to be wearing. I quilted the phrase “that dress!” over it. Probably the only reason she’s not still wearing it is that I cut it up.

Courthouse Steps quilt

Courthouse Steps quilt

The other is the cherished piece I cut from my Father’s blue Pendleton bathrobe. And that’s where I was crafty. I photocopied and enlarged a canceled check signed by my Dad. Canceled checks, remember them? I pinned the facsimile to the quilt sandwich, quilted through his signature and tore away the paper. My stitching resembles his handwriting. How’s that for the namesake?

Anita’s Self-Mitered Log Cabin quilt

Anita’s Self-Mitered Log Cabin quilt

The Log Cabin, Pineapple and Courthouse Steps are three related quilt blocks. I’ve been fixated on them as long as I’ve been quilting. To quote Penny McMorris in a Great American Quilt Show video: “Isn’t the Log Cabin everyone’s favorite quilt block?”

I can never forget that quote because a sister, above, who doesn’t quilt but always at the ready with a seam ripper, watched that episode with me. To this day, more than 20 years later, she mocks me by repeating Penny’s words. She doesn’t quilt but she more than tolerates mine, even showcasing the Courthouse Steps on a wall in her den.

About the author

Quilter Anita Grossman SolomonAnita Grossman Solomon is a full-time quilter, author and Craftsy instructor. Her quilts have been displayed everywhere, from the ceiling of the International Quilt Festival in Houston to an enormous screen high above Times Square in New York City.

In this Craftsy Blog series, she dives into the emotional and often humorous aspects of being a maker.

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