Wednesday, September 17

Connecting with Quilts, Part II

There is a thought that I wanted to share and it has to do with the quilt show at the library. It really needed a separate post and that's why I waited to share it. Last Saturday as my friend Carolyn and I sat together talking about the quilts that surrounded us, Carolyn (in the picture on the right) made the off-hand comment - "Just think how many stitches are in all those quilts." And I said "well, there are a lot of them, that's for sure. " The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the amount of stitches would be a staggering number. So, I decided to think about this and did some tallying. There were 24 full-size quilts on display, 9 children's or lap size quilts, 6 table-topper size quilts, 1 doll quilt and 24 placemat/centerpiece quilts and four unfinished quilt tops. If the goal of a fine quilter is to have ten stitches per inch.....................and that's where I stopped tallying. The amount of stitches would be in the hundreds of thousands! Amazing thought, huh?

Now here's another thought. I gathered most of the quilts from my own collection. It's not a fancy collection but the quilts and tops that I have offer a window into every decade from 1900 to the present. Some are worn beyond use and yet they have value in their design or the fabric that is still lovely to look at even though worn and faded. What I realized is that, I really love old quilts. I love the feel of them, their colors, the patterns. I like to think of the quiltmaker and how she must have enjoyed stitching those quilts. And yet sometimes, those quilts might have been sewn during really hard times and because there was a need to have warmth for a long winter. I know that was the case for my Great Granny Blair and the nine patch quilt top she made. The photo below shows the "Trip Around the World" quilt top that my Aunt Bell made.

My mother recalls that Aunt Bell used to order fabric squares for quilting from the Spiegel catalog and she's pretty sure that's where the fabric for this quilt originated. I love this quilt top and someday I will hand-quilt it. I find myself afraid to start stitching on it for fear I will ruin the beautiful work of the piece. I have had this for almost 40 years, though, and I think that come January that this is the quilt top I need to stitch on so that next year at Heritage Days I can display it as a completed quilt! Because we will share more quilts next year for several ladies told me they have quilts they will share plus spinning, crochet, lace, etc. The quilts displayed this year have led to the connection that will make next years quilt show happen!

One last thought on connections - I don't know every maker of the quilts that were displayed this past weekend but I do know how important connecting with quilts became to my family. My Granny Blair came to live with her daughter-in-law, Bell, and they quilted together. Bell, raised my mother, Mary, following the death of her mother and they connected over sewing clothes for my mother. My mother connected with two older girls, Mary and Irene Dellechiesa, who taught her to embroider. And my mother sewed clothes, and embroidered and quilted and taught me and my sister to sew, to embroider, to quilt. When I married, I learned that my mother-in-law, Ora was taught how to quilt by her mother-in-law, Christine, and so they, too, connected with quilts. The quilts and handiwork from all those women came down to me (and some to my sister but she excels in artwork and ministry so doesn't have the same interest in the quilts that I do) and I treasure each of those items and their stories. My dad and brother got in on the connecting when they began buying quilts at farm and estate auctions. I was one lucky daughter/sister to have two guys who were out there quilt shopping with me in mind!!

Last May when I began blogging, it was just a few weeks after the death of my dad. The first picture I posted was a picture of him with the quilt we called the "Puzzle Quilt". I miss my dad a great deal, find it hard, in fact, to know that he is no longer with us. But this past weekend, I got to connect with so many visitors as I shared the story of the quilts on display and the connections that led to each of them that it was like my dad was there with me. I know that he would have really enjoyed seeing the quilts for every time I went home to visit I always took something to show to him and to my mother. It was a way that we connected. I watched the visitors to the quilt show as they connected with each other - husbands and wives sharing stories of mom and grandma's quilts, women recalling baby quilts they had made, and young girls wanting to learn how to quilt. They were all connecting over something as simple as needle, thread and fabric. If only all things in life were as simple as that.

Time now, though, to turn out the lights. So with thoughts of my dad, I wish you all a "Goodnight, sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite!"


Mallory said...

My grandma and I used to connect with crafts when I was younger. And one thing she taught me was how to knit. Even today, even though the things I made were small, they are still special to me. It is hard finding ways to help kids connect with their family members which is why we posted some ideas on our blog today. Thank you for posting your experience too!
Where Families Connect

Jacquelynne said...

I think that is one of the most appealing things about quilting- on first look, it is about the colors, patterns, and textures. But on closer examination, we think about the hands that created it and realize the hours of work involved, the history behind each one.... In creating quilts, we are telling a story, and maybe creating a little history of our own....

"Peace can be found in the piecing of a quilt."
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