Driving Lessons

The day after Christmas my husband and I drove almost exactly 1400 miles, door to door, to visit my sister-in-law in Fort Worth. One week later I turned around and completed the same journey in reverse with one of my sons who happens to have a learner’s permit. It sounds a bit crazy, and it was, but there were very valid reasons for driving instead of flying, so we’ll leave it at that.

Detail Square in Square I ©2010 Diane Loomis shown in MQU September/October 2014

On the way there we intended to get an early start. However, since it was the day after Christmas, and we had to get our three sons on a plane before we began the drive, we got a very late start. Like after 4:00 in the afternoon. Yikes! This made what I had been hoping would be a lovely, extended period of time to chat with my husband into a more business like “Get ‘er done” type of drive. We were in Fort Worth by late Tuesday night. I spent the entire next day recuperating.

Detail A Letter Bit of Baaltimore ©2013 Janet Stone from January/February issue of MQU

On the return trip my son and I decided to make it a three day drive instead of one and a half. The plan was for him to get *lots* of driving practice. Well, it was a reasonable plan. However, he wasn’t quite ready to tackle city driving, neither of us wanted to drive much at night, the second day involved copious fog, and the third day included numerous twists and turns and hills and dales as we traveled by and through the Appalachians. Okay!

Russian Mosque ©Karlee Porter shown in MQU March/April 2015

Lessons learned? You bet, and they could be applied to quilting as well.

  1. Start prepping early (or at least earlier). Granted, this is hard at Christmas time, but if we’d hopped in the car as soon as the boys were on the plane it would have given us a more relaxing journey. How does this apply to quilting? I can’t count how many times I’ve quilted for a deadline, whether it was a show, exhibit opportunity, publication deadline, or self-imposed for a gift or the like. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need, it will be more fun!
  2. Be flexible. Don’t assume things have to absolutely go as you first planned. It will probably work out in the end anyway.
  3. My son’s driving involved primarily going 70 miles an hour on interstates with lots of trucks around us. This required far more attention on my part than I’d anticipated plus a stream of consciousness babble from me about what was going on around us and how to manage the situation. I think the same could be said for when we take a step back and teach someone else to quilt. When you are teaching someone to quilt no one’s life is at stake, but to really concentrate and figure out all the things that new quilter might find helpful could be quite valuable for both of you.
  4. During some of the more white knuckle aspects of our drive home, such as when the widest load I’ve ever seen passed us, I reminded my son of the basics. As long as he was going the speed limit and staying in his lane things were most likely going to be OK. I think we’ve all seen a few white knuckle quilters as well! Encourage them to relax, concentrate on where they’re going and maintain their speed, and things will be just fine.
  5. I’d supervised my son’s driving before, but my husband had taken this on much more than I had. Now that we’re home I’m having my son drive me on as many local errands as possible. Interestingly, he said that having done that fast paced and challenging highway driving was worthwhile in more ways than one. Having stretched himself gave his confidence quite a boost, and now some of our smallish local roads seem super easy. Try stretching yourself as a quilter, and I bet some less advanced aspects of quilting will seem easier too.
  6. Finally, now that we’re home my son is driving me around almost every day. The fact that he’s practicing more often, with less downtime, is making a really big difference in his skills and he’s much less stressed about it. The same is absolutely true of quilting. The more you do it, even in small chunks, the faster you’ll develop the skills and confidence to soar.


Detail Moonflower ©2016 Molly Haminton-McNally MQU July/August 2016 jawdropper

So what do all the pretty pictures I included have to do with these? Each of the quilters who made these were once beginners. Someone probably taught them at least a little bit about how to get started. And now look what they can do! Most of us learn to drive out of necessity, and we’re learning to quilt out of desire. But with planning, practice, patience and flexibility who knows what we can accomplish.

6 Responses to Driving Lessons

  1. Thank you for posting this beautiful quilt. Molly is terrific quilter and person. I admire her work greatly. We don’t see it often enough.

  2. My husband’s parents made him drive them around for a whole year before he was allowed to get his full license and he always said it was great training. I don’t know if we will make our kids wait a year but it certainly will be many months of practice before we will let them take the final test.

  3. Michele, our state requires 60 hours of supervised driving before you can get a license. It’s a lot of effort, but I think it’s well worth it.

  4. Thank you so much I learned to quilt from my daughter in law she has the patience of “Job”(in in the bible) I am work in progress. The road is slow full twists and turns because we are 500 miles apart,but still worth the trip. I must learn to slow foe and practice only then eillI reach the end of the road. Thank you got your road trip journey I am encouraged.

  5. You’re welcome Geri! Slow and steady wins the race, I’m sure you’re improving all the time. It’s so wonderful that you’re learning from your daughter-in-law, quilting is such a great joy to share.

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