More than a year ago, my wife and I joined a quilting guild in Stratford. Its meeting time was perfect -- Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., so I could work, then get to the church in Lordship.

The eight or nine members are wonderful women.

I can't say enough about the patience, support and creativity of this group. No question is too ridiculous. No idea is criticized. The environment is warm and welcoming, especially to this bumbling, token-male quilter.

The best thing about this guild, however, is that we spend the evening cutting, sewing or quilting and really getting things done. I love the discipline of going and working on a project that will see the light of day before I'm too senile to finish it.

A horrible thing last winter derailed our guild attendance for months . My wife broke her ankle. Because she and I work as a team on some projects, I just didn't want to leave her alone every Monday while I went to the guild meeting. So we took a hiatus.

Sadly, I had barely started a new quilt -- only 2 squares done with 18 more to go. It was going to be a really nice quilt from a project the guild recommended, and, based on my growing interest in American history, I had chosen some great colonial fabric to mix with vivid reds, browns and yellows.

By late last summer, as my wife recovered enough to walk, we talked about going back to the guild. Finally, we returned, and the group was really happy to see us.

One of the members had suggested months before that we purchase a double-bed-size cotton blanket to plan the layout of the quilt, and back in February, I had rolled up the unfinished rolls of cut fabric and never unrolled it again -- until the night we returned to the guild.

The quilt pattern was very specific and required that large squares of each of the different fabrics, accented by small rectangles and then smaller squares be sewn together into large squares and placed in such a way that there would eventually be five rows of four very different looking squares.

Sadly, when I unrolled the blanket, the different sizes fabric pieces were completely out of order. All I could do was groan when I saw how much reorganizing I had to do. At least all the pieces were still there.

At first, I was frustrated and impatient. Then I remembered one of the main reasons I started quilting some seven years ago -- to learn patience and technique. The need for accurate measuring and cutting of so many pieces is essential for making the end product something wonderful to look at.

A quilt comes together like a large sandwich. The top is the actual design of the quilt. That is fused to a layer of cotton or polyester batting and then the quilter attaches a backing of similar colors to those used in the quilt or just a plain piece of fabric in a coordinated color. A huge machine called a "long arm" makes breathtaking quilt designs. And then there's the binding, but that's a whole other story.

Other guild members projects and colors are breathtaking. Two women are working on "yo-yos," circular motifs that can be stitched to a project to make an openwork quilt or even a cushion cover, according to the author of a handy guide called The Directory of Quilting Techniques. One woman, Marge, is working with friends on a vivid yo-yo piece made from Depression era fabric. It's almost the size of a queen bed now, and she keeps joking that she doesn't know how large it will get.

The other lady, Rose, had cut easily 50 pieces of fabric and attached yo-yos. By the time the evening ended, she had sewed together about 16 squares in gorgeous colors with yo-yos accenting the quilt pieces.

Another member, Christie, is completing quilted elephants that will go on her new living room drapes, which are coming from her mom's house. And Barbara, who has created a business with her daughter Laurie -using their long-arm quilting machine, was working last week on a gorgeous T-shirt quilt, complete with pictures that are transferred onto special paper and then fabric.

Laurie, Nancy and Christina have also turned out works of art to which I could only aspire, but the bottom line is that it's just great to have that support.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: steven.gaynes@yahoo.com.