Sunday, January 18, 2015

The patchwork of life

It took me quite a few years (ok, maybe a decade or two) to gain an appreciation for quilts. There have always been numerous quilts hanging around my folks' house and at least as many under construction in my mom's quilting room. "Quilting room" is probably an understatement. It has been the largest room in my folks' last two or three houses and it housed more fabric and quilting supplies than most main street quilt stores. The point is that there was a LOT of quilting going on.
The quilt in the picture above is the last quilt I got from my mom. As some of you know, it's also the last quilt I will ever receive from my mom. She passed away on January 19th last year...which is a year ago tomorrow as I'm writing this. I was fortunate enough to spend a wonderful week with her prior to that where we got to visit about a number of her quilts (among many other things). My sisters and I picked out some of our favorites (at mom's insistence) so she could see which ones we liked most and so she would know who ended up with which quilt. I chose the quilt above because I liked the colors (even though it was a bit more flowery that my usual taste) and because mom told me it was one of her favorites. It has really grown on me and currently adorns a wall in our guest room.

I don't remember exactly when mom started quilting, but I did learn for the first time last December that she didn't really get into it willingly. I know I will butcher the actual details, so I will just give the brief idea behind her leap into quilting. She was asked/urged/coerced into joining a sewing group. An idea that didn't appeal to her a bit, but she never learned how to say "no" when asked for anything. As it turned out, she was pretty good at it and went on to become quite a quilting enthusiast and even taught numerous classes and conducted a number of quilting seminars, She built many relationships around the sewing tables. One of the biggest rewards that comes out of quilting is friendship. She made many friends while quilting and her quilts are a daily reminder for many of us who have one of her quilts decorating our homes.

The quilt directly above is the first quilt I ever received from my mom. She would roll her eyes whenever she saw it up on the wall in my home over the years. It is a smaller quilt that she "just threw together" as a quick sample of how you can use up fabric scraps. I don't think she ever thought much more of it than a quick sample. It is still my favorite quilt of hers. It reminds me of a snow-capped mountain range with the northern lights rolling through. She says "it's just a bunch of colors I threw together". (My limited knowledge of quilting techniques means I pick by color rather than some difficult or special technique that would be appreciated by a quilter.) Another nice thing about a quilt is that you take from it what you want. What you see in a quilt isn't necessarily what someone else sees in that same quilt.

Another obvious joy many people get from a quilt is the snuggle factor. I don't snuggle in my quilts as I'm not much of a snuggler to begin with and I only have two quilts...which are both hanging on walls in my home as decoration and a reminder of mom. I know many people who love to snuggle up in a quilt with a cup of coffee or a book. It brings comfort and relaxation to many.

Quilts seem to be very generational as well. Many of us have quilts that were passed down through the family and now contain more stories than most of us can remember, Sometimes the art of quilting is also passed down through the family. My youngest sister has become quite a activity that shocked many of us (even her a little, I believe). Who knows, maybe she can teach my girls to quilt when they get older?? I would love for them to be able to experience many of the same joys my mom got from quilting as well as experience something that their Grandma enjoyed.

Quilts spend most of their time being overlooked as a piece of artwork on the wall or a fancy blanket to keep you warm. Next time you see one on display or have the opportunity to snuggle under it, take a look at the details. Think about the amount of planning, stitching and quilting that went into it. Think about the person who made it. Most of all, try to imagine the time spent building friendships while producing the quilt and the amount of love that went into it. You may even have the advantage of learning a little bit of the history of the quilt that will then make it mean that much more to you. I will continue to enjoy my two quilts. I am fortunate to know the history of the quilts as well as the detailed history of my mom who poured her love into the making of her quilts, I will enjoy their presence as a constant reminder of my mom in the years to come. One day they will belong to my girls and they can share the story of their Grandma. Until next time....