But now I have an announcement to make: I have just made my first patchwork quilt for a sweet little baby (not mine, I hasten to add - although, long in the tooth as I am, I do still have yearnings for a little baby to cuddle, but preferably one which sleeps all the time and doesn't need too much attention when I am busy).
So as I said, I have imagined myself creating quilts for some time - I have even cut out pieces, then become overwhelmed by the thought of producing 244 squares (or some such frighteningly large number), and keep finding 30 or so starters carefully tidied away at the bottom of one of my to-do drawers. I have puzzled over those rather prettily-coloured geometric diagrams in quilting books, and quailed at the thought of making the corners of triangles fit in the face of finger-wagging threats of the dire consequences of inaccuracy.
I went on a patchwork training day (it felt like training, even if it was billed as fun), and there was more finger-wagging because I had not read the instructions and came with my fabric unwashed, no matching thread, and favoured colours which did not have enough contrast between my 'darks' and my 'lights'. And there was I imagining a lovely cottagey, washed-out, grandmothery effect ... traumatized, I felt that an undisciplined nature such as mine was not suitable for such a skilled craft, and retreated back to the knitting corner.
And then came one of those fortuitous concatenations of circumstance which propel one into a whole new world of making and creating: a friend had a baby, the first in a long line due this year, and I thought that I couldn't possibly knit for them all, so I had the idea of sewing a present. For some reason, sewing always seems speedier to me than knitting, probably because a sewing machine seems to whizz along far faster than I can knit.
The baby was boy, and I have rather an embarrassment of florals in my stash, but as I sat making a lavender bag for Mothering Sunday, it occurred to me that the fabric was green and geometric - surely that would work for a boy? I looked in the stash for anything vaguely not pink and flowery, and came up with a series of blue-green turquoise variations which seemed to work, and I thought of Laurie Lee's poem, 'April Rise', which talks of 'soapy green', 'Blown bubble-film of blue', and the 'emerald sun'. Perfect for the little spring 'blessing in the air' who had just arrived in the world.
And then the final loosening of the creative block came with Jane Brocket's book, The Gentle Art of Quilting, which demystifies the practicalities of quilting, and emphasizes colour and inspiration. Jane's book seems to me more about the inherent creativity of playing with colour and pattern, and less about complicated geometry and skilled cutwork. It seemed to give me permission to do my own thing, and not worry about whether I was making something in the right or wrong way - and, in my haste, I still forgot to wash everything first, but I quite like the idea of a slightly crinkly, timeworn look.
I don't think that I would pass any examinations with this quilt, but I made sure I stitched it full of love and happy thoughts, I think it will keep a baby cosy, and it looks pretty (and not too flowery, I hope). The fabrics were Jennifer Paganelli's Dance with Me for Freespirit (JP27 Grass and Green, JP27 Teal), Swell by Urban Chiks for Moda (31030-15) and Heather Bailey's Bijoux Tile (HB101 Ice) for Freespirit - all from stash, thrifty old me (just don't ask me how they got there, as that might not have been quite so thrifty).
For anyone who wants to make one, here's how to make your first baby quilt after years of thinking about it. The technical details are quite simple. I cut 5.5in squares (using a cutting mat and ruler, which really does make life easier), for a 5in finished size. The quilt is 5 squares by 6, so you only need to cut 30.
I then arranged the squares in a slightly random way, mainly because I had unequal amounts of fabric, and roughly alternating lighter and darker, although I don't think the contrast would pass a strict test. I worked with four different fabrics, although five or six would have made it easier.
Then make the 6 crossways strips by stitching 5 squares together in a row, with quarter-inch seams, ironing the seam to the darker side.
I then joined the strips together - if you have been reasonably accurate with cutting and stitching then the seams will line up, but don't beat yourself up if some don't, as I think a bit of unevenness just demonstrates the lovely handmade nature of the work. The edge binding will cover any imperfections anyway. However, it is worth taking a bit of care to 'nest' the seams together and think about which way to iron them to avoid lumpiness.
I then hand-quilted with a light bluish-grey quilting thread as I don't have a walking foot on my machine - Jane Brocket hand-quilts her creations, so I feel that I am in illustrious company. I just used a very small running stitch along all the seam lines, which was enjoyable to do, and not at all difficult.
I made the backing of two different fabrics, sewn together across the width - I quite like the backing to be made of more than one fabric - somehow it makes it more interesting. I made sure I had plenty of extra all round so that I could double-fold it to the front to make a self-binding, rather than attach a separate one. Measurements were not crucial here, I just did it by eye, but it was about 1.5cm finished width. I then slip-stitched all the way round - corners were squared off, not mitred - easier to do, and also I rather like the homespun look.
I am not going to say that you could do this in an afternoon, or even a weekend - I find that sort of target just depresses me at my lack of productivity. Let's just say that the baby was a month old when he received the quilt, but I was doing other things as well ...
And to those of you who saw us in the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend and very kindly said that I looked glamorous - I want to thank you wholeheartedly (I know one compliment came from my mamma, but truly, she has never called me glamorous before, and I think I am still in a state of shock, and she certainly sounded distinctly surprised when she rang me at 8am on Sunday to convey her opinion to me). Me - glamorous? I have never aspired to such an elevated state, as I have always had rather a crumpled air, and am definitely not shiny enough. I am still basking in the glow and am considering myself in quite a new light as I inspect my grimy fingernails and mud-streaked jeans, and debate whether I can put off washing my hair for another day. And for those of you interested in sartorial detail, my cardi was third-hand, and my frock came from a charity shop, although my wellies were not preowned. There's hope for me yet ...