Friday, April 06, 2007

Quilting history

A fair part of today has been spent writing my quilting history -- this is in preparation for having to talk about it at next week's guild meeting when I am to be "Quilter of the Month" and show some of my work. I knew the story well because I spent a couple of my insomniac nights going over it in detail -- too much detail. Just as what i wrote today was in much too much detail. But I can extrapolate from it a few points onto an index card as I learned long ago in Public Speaking my freshman year in college. During the course of the week I have to decide which quilts I'll take to show. The talk needs to be minimal, ten minutes max as it will be the last event of the meeting and people will want to go home. I don't want to see people getting up and going out as I talk -- hate that! So brevity is the key ... and, in truth, I could write a decent sized book if it had pictures ... which is necessary in any book about visual creations.

I thought I'd just mention today a part of the story that will be very briefly elided next week. I did not grow up in a sewing/ quilting household. My mother was not a good seamstress and didn't enjoy sewing -- I'm thinking of my mother since writing about her yesterday. She had, first a treadle sewing machine [we didn't have electricity until I was four]. This was on a farm. Did I mention that? The telephone came the year after electricity. Indoor plumbing didn't happen for another four or five years when Dad built a new house on a bigger farm -- this was just after WWI when prosperity was even touching poor farmers.

My mother probably should have been a journalist. But she married at the end of the depression and fate was against any ambitions and hopes she had. But she wanted to be a good mother and she wanted to teacher her daughter all the important feminine skills. So she bought an old upright piano when I was six and sent me for piano lessons. I clearly remember overhearing a conversation when she said to Dad that the children were getting old enough for Sunday School so they needed to decide which local [Protestant] church they would begin attending. It turned out to be Baptist, which was the nearest and had an active young adults social group. Then when I was ten she called other mothers in the general area and got together enough girls to start a 4-H club. That meant projects in cooking, baking, canning, sewing, room decorating -- all of which came with brochures and sometimes local days with a country home extension agent teaching skills.

I took to all those projects very happily -- sewing was especially satisfying because Mom also had subscriptions to Ladies Home Journal and got a subscription for me to American Girl and then Seventeen. No one in my school had a lot of money or dressed much better than anyone else -- although there was a banker's daughter who had 4 or 5 sweater sets in pastel colors and I had only a blue set. Still there really wasn't much fashion sense that I was aware of. But I learned to sew my own skirts and blouses, and even, by junior in high school, I made a tailored wool suit. I learned from the 4-H experirence that I could learn to sew anything from written material. Later that came to include quilts.

People had quilts. I only remember one awful quilt from when I was about four. Made of scraps of wool pants or jackets sewn crazy quilt style, probably directly onto an old blanket -- purely for warm in the little square house on the little square 40 acre farm. There was a wood/coal burning store in the living room and a wood cook stove, big and black, in the kitchen, but the bedroom could get very chilly. When under that quilt I was warm but totally immobilized by its weight.
That is enough of my sewing and quilting history for tonight; having spent the day writing about it, I'm written out.

[The quilt in the picture at the top of this post is one of my failures -- too bright!! I almost can't fall asleep if I know it's on the bed. So it was there one day to see if it had calmed down since last I looked at it ... it had not. I've got to find somebody to give it to.

1 comment :

Gerry said...

This is really wonderful to read...thanks for sharing this with us...and well as Mothers Day is approaching i've posted a few stuff over at my blog on Mothers Day Wishes so drop by sometime and check out all that i've posted there!!!