Thirty-three Year Work in Progress

I have been blessed by generations of quilters in my family. My Grandma, my Mom, My Mother-in-law and both of my husband’s grandmothers have all spent hours creating warm blankets full of love. When I was newly married, I acted on instict. I pieced together some scraps from dresses I had made for myself, starting a traditional nine patch quilt top. Then, inspiration struck.

With the birth of my first baby, I decided on something very ambitious. The idea was to embroider his name and date of birth  on the first square, and then a picture that depicted something he loved  for each year of his  life.Jon's first quilt square So, by the time he  graduated high school, I would piece the squares together to make a unique quilt. I copied pictures from color books,  sketched some ideas of my own, and worked while the baby slept, happily indulging my creativity. When the second son came along, the tradition continued, but now I was making two squares each year. All of their favorites were fair game, whether toys or TV shows. AlfThen, surprise, we prepared for the third baby. By this time, I was way behind on creating squares.  Now, what HAD my oldest son loved when he was five? Gradually, life got in the way, and I stored the squares in the closet, hoping to get back to them some day.

The nay-sayers in my life laughed at me. Nice work. Too bad they will stay in the closet forever, they said. Then, as two of my children found their life mates, inspiration struck again. I would ressurect the quilt squares and piece them together for my potential grandchildren!  I  presented the first quilt to our first grandson complete with a Cabbage Patch Doll his mom had loved, and a few years later, the second, with the General Lee race car, and waited for the last branch of the family tree to begin budding.

Last year, my middle son announced that he and my Florida daughter in law were expecting. I pulled out the remaining set of squares and got busy.  I borrowed a quilting frame, and when the owner needed it back, I switched to an emboidery hoop.Hoop With a full time job, and the fatigue of a four time Granny, progress is slow. As I sit in my favorite chair, reading glasses perched on my nose, my lap covered with memories, my stitching is bittersweet. It will be a little hard to let go of this one. But, soon, the final one of a kind quilt will be presented to its new owner. Then, all three of our kids can entertain the five grands with stories of their childhood favorites, and their  slightly wacky, but persistent mother.

 

Quilts!

So far this year, I’ve made four quilt tops.

Two are gifts and two are for me!

Do I need another quilt? Not really!

Does that stop me from making them? Not really!

 

Quilt for blogThe last quilt I made is my Epiphany quilt. I have several Christmas quilts, but this one is for the twelve days after Christmas. Why? Because the fabric has the three Kings looking for Jesus. When I found the printed fabric, I knew what color I’d use for a coordinate fabric and what quilt block pattern I’d use because they are significant to the Epiphany.

The block is a Zig-Zag pattern. I chose this to signify the Kings returning via an alternate route(s) so King Herod didn’t find the Christ child. The coordinate fabric is purple-the color of royalty. I don’t have a quilting machine so I hire someone else to finish the quilt. I told her the story and she chose a wandering quilt stitch, again to signify the different return paths of the Kings.

 

 

TOUCHSTONES

Anniversary 031Look in my closet and you’ll see what I’m sentimental about. Look around my house. I’m sentimental about my childhood.

I know, everyone thinks they had either an idyllic childhood, or a horrible childhood. There were some bad times for our family – sickness, death of loved ones, etc. – but I really had it pretty good. (Yes, even after my sister came along . . .)

I guess that’s why I love some of my “stuff.” I know, it doesn’t take the place of the memories, but they’re like touchstones for me. Photographs, a special toy, a record album (NOT a CD, a VINYL ALBUM!), a lunchbox – they all bring me back to a simpler time and place.

This time of year, the falling leaves take me back to a huge maple in our front yard that literally left a foot of golden leaves every year. It was like the sunshine didn’t want to leave us, and decided to lie about and let us enjoy it for a few weeks before the dreary days of winter set in.

Anniversary 019A fire in the fireplace makes me remember those Christmases at my grandparents’ house, where the only time there was a fire, was at Christmastime. The green army blankets left the doorways where they hung, protecting us from drafts, and the fire warmed the whole space.

Attending a concert given by my daughter’s college choir the other night, they pulled a quartet out to sing a couple of southern gospel songs – they took me right back to my dad singing in a quartet, my grandmother playing for them, and the many albums of quartet music that formed the background music of my childhood – I’ve had “Sweeter As The Days Go By” running through my head ever since.

My parents’ 50th anniversary this year had us looking through old photographs – it brought back so many memories of the house we lived in when I was very young. The recent death of my grandmother brought the family together to share memories of days gone by. I look at my piano, and I can see my grandmother playing it, my dad, aunt, and uncle singing around her.

Quilts. They’re all over my house. I have the butterfly quilt that my mother started piecing when she was 13, and finished quilting when I was 13. I have the “doll” quilt that my paternal grandmother made and always had on the bed in the back bedroom when I would come to spend the night. I have the quilt that my maternal grandmother made FOR me when I was 10 or 12, and upon which she taught me to quilt. Every quilt has bits of fabric that have stories – and we talk about them, still.

skilletBut you know what one of my favorite touchstones would have to be?

My iron skillet.

My other grandmother, who has been gone for several years, told me that it had belonged to my grandfather’s mother or grandmother. It is the skillet that, at her house, I learned to cook bacon (crispy, not limp!) and French toast. I think of her every time I make cornbread. It is seasoned to perfection. I guess you might say it’s one of my most prized possessions.

I know “stuff” isn’t as important as people – but sometimes I think God imbues our “stuff” with the ability to maintain those memories that make us, us. I thank Him for it every day.

To what childhood object are YOU most attached?