Quilt stories

April 8th, 2012 by Jan

“Some folks has albums to put folks’ pictures in and some folks has a book and writes down the things that happen. But quilts is my albums and diaries. I just spread out my quilts and it’s like going back fifty of sixty years and living my life over.” —Eliza Calvert Hall

I just read several books by Jennifer Chiaverini. She writes about a group of women called The Elm Creek Quilters. I’m not recommending these books unless you are looking for a step up from a sitcom on TV, or you really enjoy stories about women quilting. The books are a super easy read with no surprises, and perfect for sick days when you are stuck in bed. (Under a pretty quilt!)

What I liked most was the description of the thought process women go threw when choosing a quilt block, and the mindfulness of the stories the quilts are meant to tell.

I leaned to quilt in the late 70’s. I joined a quilt guild in Oklahoma and was by far the youngest member in the group. It seemed to me that the women were somewhat desperate to pass on their knowledge to someone and I was an easy and willing target. But I didn’t make my own quilt until 1984 — my first year of sobriety. There was something symbolic about cutting fabric into a thousand pieces, mixing them up, and then sewing them all back together again in a totally different and new way. It kept me busy, focused and productive.

Grandmothers Pride is the name of my first quilt, I liked the pattern and the salute to my Grandmother Chambers, who we had to call, Grandmother, not Grandma or Nanny. I still sleep under this quilt. I don’t save my quilts for good. I use them or I give them away in hopes that others will use them. My only caveat when I give a quilt — use it. Sleep under it, make love on it, spread it out in the yard and have a picnic on it, and don’t freak out when the cat throws up on it! You can wash it! Enjoy it.

Someone once asked me if Grandmothers Pride was an antique quilt. Probably because it is worn and frayed and has been definitely used.

In the books about the Elm Creek Quilters, I learned that most women put huge symbolism in the quilt blocks they sew and want their quilts to tell a story and hold a history.

I’m not concerned with saving the quilts I make for history, yet each one does have a story. As Eliza Calvert Hall said, I just need to spread out my quilts and I remember everything.

2 thoughts on “Quilt stories

  1. heather

    We LOVE and use the quilt you gave us every night. And yes, we wash it when the cat throws up on it. And when it’s fresh on the bed all pretty we think of you. Thank you Jan for sharing part of your history (and your talent) with us!

  2. Laur

    How sweet is that? Your quilt is a hug they live with and love and sleep with. Here in our lives we get to gift to each other and with friends what we all call “a hug I can wear”. Your quilts are like that and that you invite people to love, be loved, and make love on/under them is special too.

    Do you know how loved you are? Today’s App, changing lives, everywhere.


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