08 February 2007

Obsession with Quilts #1

I come from a large Mennonite family. My great-grandmother was a quilter. My great-aunts were quilters and one even owned a quilt shop. My grandmothers are quilters. Several of my aunts are quilters--some for pleasure, some for profit. My mom has pieced a few quilts to sell at the Christian school's fundraising auctions. Quilts are in my blood.

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve quilts and the act of quilting. I have a distinct memory of a sunny winter afternoon spent under the quilting frame at my great-aunt Grace's house. I lay on my back and admired the dappled patterns of light and color seen through each different block. I watched the needles of the women seated around the quilt frame flash in and out of the bottom of the quilt. The less confident ones kept their left hands under the quilt guiding the needle and thread. The hum of women exchanging small talk, gossip and family stories sworled around me. It's a gentle memory.

Even as a young child I can remember being allowed to stitch a few inches into a quilt. I'm sure that a more experienced quilter came along later and removed my scraggly stitches, but I felt like I was an active participant in their craft. When I was eight years old, my mom was pregnant with my little sister. Mom and grandma encouraged me to make a crib blanket for my sister. I remember it as being pale greens and pinks but my memory of the actual blanket is hazy. I am pretty sure that it was my first real project completed on a sewing machine and I remember helping my mom and grandma knot the blanket together in my grandma's kitchen. I wonder if that little old crib blanket still exists somewhere in my mom's closets?

Quilts are a practical objects made with those you love.


Kris said...

I have no recollection of that crib blanket.

nathan said...

Mom does and she read this post. She doesn't have a blogger profile but she emailed me and said she'd look for it in her boxes.

nathan said...

wups, that was really deb. and it still is.

Sarah said...

I love this post - thanks for writing about your quilting memories. It reminds me how important it is to keep the quilting tradition going.