“Animal” Attraction: Cats and the Quilting Life

As anyone with a feline in the family can tell you, there is a magical connection between cats, quilts, and quilters.

You may remember my buddy, Scooter, who made the scene in an earlier (group) post, keeping a careful watch over some of my piecing essentials.

That super sewing room cat, Scooter, asks "What's all this stuff?"

That super sewing room cat, Scooter, asks “What’s all this stuff?”

An outtake from our 2011 photo shoot: "That's it. I'm done."

An outtake from our 2011 photo shoot: “That’s it. I’m done.”

Scooter has been my faithful companion in the sewing room since I brought him home–as a frisky, inquisitive 8-week old–from the Watauga (NC) County Animal Shelter almost 16 years ago. At first, he made himself at home on my sewing table.

Well, hello there!

Well, hello there!

Before long, he discovered . . . fabric! It didn’t matter how small the piece, or how tight the space, if there was a scrap to be found, he was on it.

Scooter as a "teenager"--"Not too comfortable here, Mom. Could you spread this out a little?"

Scooter as a “teenager”–”Not too comfortable here, Mom. Could you spread this out a little?”

"Ahhhhh! That's better!"

“Ahhhhh! That’s better!”

It wasn’t just the sewing operation that kept him busy. He has always cast a careful eye on the business of quilting as well. Over the years, he has been my muse as I’ve planned a variety of workshops, produced countless class handouts, written masses of magazine pieces, edited dozens upon dozens of quilt books, and even authored and co-authored a book or two myself.

Scooter: Director of Quality Control, a lifetime position. (Check out that antique on my desk!)

Scooter: Director of Quality Control, a lifetime position. (Check out that antique on my desk!)

The only part of the quilt life he never did cotton to was the travel. Here he registers his sentiments on an upcoming teaching gig.

"Heading to Houston? Not without me, you're not!"

“Heading to Houston? Not without me, you’re not!”

He did, however, make one BIG journey with me.

January 1, 2002: Heading to the airport in Charlotte (NC)  and then west to a new life in California!

January 1, 2002: Heading to the airport in Charlotte (NC) and then west to a new life in California!

During the recent holiday season, Scooter began to show signs of a considerable slow down. Earlier this month, we visited the vet, and the news was not good. He’s home with us now, under careful observation, on a tempting new soft-food diet–the recipient of gentle nursing and tons of TLC. I know our time together is winding down.

Am I sad? Of course. But I’m also very grateful for 16 years of furry friendship and thousands of hours of companionship as I’ve continued along my quilting journey. Here’s to you, Scoots!

Scooter at the Window, 3" x 5", made by Darra Williamson

Scooter at the Window, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

[Note: Since this post published this morning (1/21), our wonderful readers have been sharing comments with lovely stories of their own feline "accomplices" and heartfelt words of encouragement and support. Though I'm not able to respond individually at the moment,  I thank you all for your kind thoughts. You're the best!]

‘Til next time, happy stitching.Darra-signature

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12 Responses to “Animal” Attraction: Cats and the Quilting Life

  1. Judy de Carbonel says:

    Oh Darra….how well I understand …we are currently care giving our special yellow Lab, Ranger, assisted by Kitty Clare and Finian, who supervise every move he makes and indulge him with face baths. When he returned from minor surgery last week, Clare insisted on sleeping next to him! Our pets are family who bring us such peace, comfort and love. Special thoughts and prayers for you and Scooter! Judy We missed you at book club tonight!

  2. Wonderful tribute to our beloved kitties, Scooter is quite the character.
    I love the kitty piece, so cute.

    Debbie

  3. Rosemary says:

    Great story and wonderful tribute. I have 3 feline “assistants.” Our little female black helper has tried several times to pull the pins out of my work, so I can only use those pins with the flat head and a magnetic pin cushion. Every project, no matter what I make comes under extensive scrutiny. All three, including the two male tabbies have to give their “two cents,” as well. I recently made a kitty bed for my daughter and SIL’s two kittens and was pleasantly surprised when Madison decided it was a fun game to run across the room and jump on it, sliding, like on a saucer, as far as her weight could take it on the hardwood floor! I also recently made a 16 block suduko of cat fabrics as I have a difficult time resisting them when I see them. Thanks for sharing.

  4. so sweet! adore the ending portrait (I bow to your talents, but would you consider losing the bow?) xoxox

  5. sue says:

    I recently lost my sewing companion of 18 yrs. Once avoiding slicing her paw I cut the tip of my finger off. After that I made sure she was off the cutting table when using rotary cutter. She is missed.

  6. Carol Kuse says:

    Thank you for bringing back memories. Ours is Rusty. He looked a lot like your Scooter except the only white he had was the tip of his tail. I still get a little teary eyed, but would not give up a second of our time with him and his mother! Our favorite photo of him is in my mothers arms, and it reminds me that that is where he is right now.
    Carol

  7. MargaretFritz says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your story. Yes, our cats have had close relationships with quilts and quilting – an affirmation of the heart felt warmth stitched in an array of carefully placed fabric. Your story has touched my heart with similar experiences to be cherished with a smile!

  8. eswatniki says:

    Scooter is very handsome! Aren’t they the most amazing animals. I had my “Buttons” for 20 amazing years. I was so thankful that I had retired 6 mos before she left us. Every day right around 2pm, she would come to the door of my studio and yell at me to come take a nap. I would grab my book and take up my assigned spot on the bed as she stretch out full length along my side. That is such a sweet memory as I think about her. Enjoy this special time with Scoots.

  9. Oh what a wonderful kitty that Scooter
    Looks like! We r in similar situation here with our Millie, our 14 or 15 ( she won’t tell!) year old rescued calico. She too is on a very restricted diet and has slowed down. But she still insists on keeping her titles of Head Greeter/creative muse/studio manager! Yes everyday is a gift for sure ! We have been blessed haven’t we!!! Good luck n best wishes!

  10. Peggy O'Connor says:

    Love this post! We’re so blessed by our furry family members!!!

  11. Kate Spain says:

    You say it so well, Darra! What a heart-warming pictorial of your gentle sweet creature, Scooter. Our thoughts and prayers to you and Scooter at this time.

  12. Brita says:

    Thank you for sharing your quilting life with Scooter! My quilting muse/supervisor/inspector and companion of 17 years, Patches, is sorely missed in my quilty world, but I smile every time I remember those little moments of companionship. Cats should be included on everyone’s BSK (basic sewing kit) list ;-)

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