Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quilters--vive la difference!

I have been thinking about several conversations about quilting that took place in the last couple of months.  My grandmother's sister, one of her brothers and his wife and son from Nebraska came to visit in early November--they had planned the trip before my grandmother died in October and didn't change their plans, as they came by train.  I was especially eager to talk to my Grandma's sister, Clara.  Unfortunately, her memory has deteriorated significantly and it was apparent why the photos and letter I sent to her earlier in the year asking about Grandma's quilts had gone unanswered.  My Aunt Jean was able to answer some questions and as a sometime quiltmaker herself, understood my desire for documentation.  I was correct in my thought that this quilt below was made by several of the sisters, but my Great Grandmother did not also work on it, as I had thought.  I had never seen this quilt before Grandma showed it to me about 5 years ago, but by that time she told me, "I think I made this quilt, but I just can't remember", which about broke my heart! 

Aunt Jean and I talked about some other quilts of the family, including a story that had been shared at Grandma's funeral service. Grandma and Grandpa had arrived at a niece's new house before the family got home for the day and were settled in comfortably when the family arrived home from school and work.  When asked how they found the place without getting good directions, Grandma stated she knew it was the right house because she recognized the quilt she'd made for her niece's graduation hanging on the line! Aunt Jean said Grandma had made quilts for all the Nebraska family members for their high school graduation, another story I hadn't known. These were backed with sheets and many were tied--Aunt Jean seemed a bit apologetic about this. But she didn't need to be--to me the gift of a quilt is in the love stitched into it, no matter the materials used! 

When my sister Kathy was here for Christmas we also talked about quilting.  I originally got her "hooked" in late 2005 when I took her to my local quilt shop to have her pick out fabric for a quilt I wanted to make her. While there she picked up a Ricky Tims "Convergence" book.  She was fascinated by his methods and was really excited about trying them.  I was not so taken as she by that style of quilting but was happy to have my sister join me in the quilt cult!  We even went to a Ricky Tims weekend seminar the following year which was one of the most fun trips I have ever been on.  This past Christmas Kathy brought a convergence quilt she had started for me several years ago, which was still unfinished.  I asked her if she had made any more convergence quilts since then and she said "not really".  Pictoral quilts grabbed her attention and she almost exclusively does them now.  I marvel at her free and instinctive feel for translating printed fabric into "painting" a picture, and she marvels at my cut and pieced squares, triangles, and rectangles.  We share a passion for quilting from totally different spectrums (Kathy's Lilypads below).

My sister in law Laura has been a collector of fabric for many years.  I've been trying to turn her into a quilter for the last couple of years and finally last summer with my helping a bit by doing some cutting and providing support while she sewed and planned, she completed two quilt tops all on her own and was loving it.  Over Christmas she put together the quilt top we collaborated on for our family friends, and before she left that day, she said that putting together that top had given her a renewed eagerness to sew more.  I have gotten two reports since that instead of working on her paper and stamping crafts once she returned home after the holidays, she is quilting!  As a newer quilter still building confidence she is concentrating on simple patterns and building her stash.  We are both more traditional piecers but when shopping for fabric head in completely different areas of the store.  Florals, pinks, dusty shades and orientals call to her, whereas I head for prints in brighter or deeper shades and lots of geometrics.   

In a very subjective world, I find it fantastic that lovers of  fabric, thread, color and pattern meet under the broad category of "quilters" and share their passion, knowledge, and stories, and I am happy to be a tiny part of that community!      


Vivian said...

What a great story I just read here. It sounds like you're the Pied Piper of quilting in your family. You're encouraging others to give it a try, and you're gathering family history about your quilts. You're covering all the bases, as far as keeping quilting alive and thriving in your family. Bravo!

I'm sorry to say there's no quilting family history for me to find. I'm pretty much it. I envy the stories you have to share.

Libby said...

Isn't that the beauty of quilting - there is something to appeal to everyone and every quilt is filled with nothing but love *s*

Kathleen said...

Such a wonderful thing to share the love of quilting with a family member. You sure are spreading the love!

Stephanie D. said...

I'm thinking this must be a genetic trait in your family!

Many years ago, my mother cleaned out her basement and found a bunch of quilt blocks and a couple of scraggly tops in a grocery bag. She didn't know if they came from her mother or grandmother, though, knowing what a perfectionist her mother was, I'm betting on her grandmother.

So far, no one else in my family is a quilter, and I don't hold out much hope for daughter, but maybe she'll give me a granddaughter (or grandSON) someday who'll want to learn.