|My own scrappy quilt made by my great-grandmother|
This week I (Jessie) had the privilege of visiting with a woman from my church who is also one of the founding members of our quilt guild. She was the original guild historian and is a beautiful and kind lady.
About a year ago the apartment building she lived in had a fire and she lost a lot of her history. As we visited today she talked wistfully of baby pictures, knick knacks and lost quilts. Like most quilters she had been in the middle of many different projects and had had an impressive collection of quilts both made and given to her. It was heartbreaking to imagine those things gone forever.
But she still had several and those she pulled from their protective pillow cases, almost lovingly, to show me. With great warmth she unfolded a small wall quilt with sweet appliquéd tea pots in tiny floral prints. Of course I was smitten, anything tea related goes straight to my vintage loving heart. There was a crazy quilt filled with tiny pieces of faded silk, a huge star quilt that boggled my mind with how intricate it was. Lastly, we unwrapped a very old quilt that her daughter had found at an estate sale. It was lovely, and signed with ink. When held to the light you could see cotton seeds from the fabric.
And, all the while we looked at these quilts she told me about what her life had been like when she'd made, or received each one. The teapot quilt had been made by a friend when she'd been hospitalized. The star quilt had come from an antique shop in the town where her husband had been born. The crazy quilt was neat but nowhere so lovely as the story it reminded her of about how her future son-in-law had left college because he couldn't stand to be away from her daughter (over thirty years of marriage later and this story makes me want to cry).
What struck me even more was that as she remembered the quilts she had lost she told me even more of her history. She described each quilt to me and then told me those stories. The quilt she had been making for her youngest granddaughter. How there was nearly a riot the first time a machine quilted quilt won best-of-show. The time she'd rescued a quilt from a barn floor, how she'd been working on a friendship quilt and what all the pieces her friends had made. It was as if her history is literally stitched into all of these blankets.
As I face my own grandmother's alzheimers I see how beautiful, sacred almost, it is to have these physical links to our pasts. Certainly, quilting is important to American history but it's more then that, it's as if the very stitches are pathways to our own lives. All my friend had to do was imagine her quilts and her stories flowed like water. What I wouldn't give to have something like that with my own Grandma, even for a moment, to hear her speak of who she was. I see now that quilts are beautiful timelines. Timelines of our country, timelines of our own lives and of those around us. A quilt can be the stitches that hold our life stories together.
I redecorated my sewing room. If your interested in a tour click HERE