Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why I Quilt

Quilting allows us to give warmth to people we love.  It connects us to the past while giving us a way to express ourselves and our feelings.  I recently bought a book, called Quilt Talk.  I love it because it's sarcastic, mostly, and funny.  It is full of paper pieced messages and it includes a paper pieced alphabet to make your own messages.  I love it for being outrageous and for providing tools that let me, theoretically at least, say what I have to say.  It’s fun.  But quilts don’t have to include script to talk.  I have two heirloom quilts passed down to me from older women in my family.  I love them.  They are beautiful examples of what can be done with fabric and many, many hours of work.  The colors are vivid.  The stitches are tiny and even.  When I look at them I imagine the hands that worked on them for so many hours, maybe stretched out on a frame with friends, maybe alone at night after their children were sleeping - like me.  I can feel a connection to them when I touch their work. 
Grandma's Quilt
Aunt Blanche's Quilt
When I make a quilt I send out into the world a message of my own.  I have been quilting for a long time, but I have never been one to churn out quilts.  Each piece that I have made has been for a specific person in a specific time.  Some of my favorite quilts have included the handprints of loved ones.  One of my daughters sleeps under a quilt I made in college that includes the handprints of my 
family, including my grandfather who is now gone.  When she struggles to sleep we pull the quilt around her and I remind her that each handprint is a hug.  They will protect her and they love her.  I have seen her wrap it around herself when she is sad.  My other daughter sleeps under two of my quilts.  One is a lap quilt and the first I ever made, when I was 13.  It’s a log cabin.  It’s ratty and ugly.  One side caught on something and is torn.  But she seems to understand what it represents. It is my first attempt to access something that is much bigger than me.  To connect to the past and stretch to the future. It is an important piece of me and she keeps it now.  It has begun its journey into the future, just as my great aunt’s and my great grandmother’s quilts have moved forward into my care.  My daughters’ connections to my quilts makes them more special for me.  

Frankie's Quilt
My quilts will tell my story.  When I’m not there to hold my children, I hope they will always have one of my quilts to wrap around themselves.  I hope it will help them feel my love.  I hope this is just the beginning for my work. 

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