Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Threads Through Time

One evening at 10 p.m. when all my students had left I decided to make more log cabin blocks like those I made for the project I was teaching. I found this caddy to be a perfect way to keep everything I needed for hand sewing together. It is another one of my original designs.

As I continued to make a few more blocks I suddenly felt a connection to my paternal grandmother who sewed and made at least one pieced quilt top.
I continued making blocks and got up very early the next morning and made quite a few more. As I was making the blocks I started to think of the similarities and differences between my self and my grandmother who had passed away quite a few years earlier. That evening after our quilt guild meeting I went out for coffee with Julie Silber. Julie told me about the lecture she was preparing called "The Grandmother Connection".
Of course I had to tell her what I had been working on. She asked me to keep in touch.
I worked on those blocks every spare moment and had the top done in one week, including the pieced border. (I was also teaching a full load of classes at the time) As I worked on it I wrote down my thoughts about my grandmother and myself and our similarities and differences.
When I finished it I laid it on the floor and planned on layering and quilting it quickly. Somehow I was paralyzed when it came to doing this and yet I felt I had to do the quilting myself. It laid on the floor for a month or two until the cleaning lady folded it up and put it on the table.
After several months I decided I just couldn't quilt it so I sent it away to be quilted. I asked the quilter to quilt along both sides of each piece.
On a Saturday morning Julie was lecturing again in our area. The quilt returned from the quilter the day before the lecture. I brought it along to show her and she asked me to send her my story.
I went to Hilton Head Island that year in January with the intention of doing some writing including the writing of the story. I forgot my notes so just started writing what I remembered longhand (didn't have a lap top then!). I wrote until I had 13 pages. Being superstitious I added one more page. I sent the letter off to Julie along with some slides of the quilt, a few of my other quilts and the quilt top my grandmother had made that I was lucky enough to have.
I call this quilt Threads Through Time and it is a tribute to my grandmother and my parents.

I was one of the quilters featured in Julie's lecture but I wasn't able to see and hear the lecture for several years.
When I finally did I will have to say it is one of the most moving and emotional lectures I have ever heard. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I am one of the quilters she talks about) If you ever have a chance to attend this lecture drop everything and go. I have enjoyed every lecture of hers I have been fortunate enough to attend.

One of the reasons I was able to create this quilt in such a short time is because of something I did with my extra fabric each time I finished a project. I cut it all into 1 1/2 inch strips. I sorted them by light and dark. They were already cut when I started to make this quilt. When I had finished and joined the 96 blocks I had a lot of dark fabrics left and very few lights. I sewed enough darks together to make a border. Although this was done out of necessity the dark border grounded the quilt and finished it off. It also made me realize that most quilters use a lot more darks than lights and that is probably why many old quilts have dark borders.

I've included these close ups of some of the fabrics. Those of you who were quilting in the 70's and early 80's will enjoy looking at them and saying "Oh, I remembber that fabric." or "I used that fabric when I made the quilt for ...."
You can click on any of these photos to see a larger immage closeup.

The puzzle I am sharing with you tonight also has a grandmother connection. The purple glass bowl belonged to my grandmother. I filled it with sealife I acquired when I visited my friend Suzie in Maine 2 years ago. The lamp belonged to my great aunt, my grandmothers sister. The Santa's are done by an artist who's name I do not remember.
I'm also sharing this as the first of several Christmas vignettes with you. The puzzle cut I am using reminds me of snowflakes.
Click to Mix and Solve

1 comment:

Exuberant Color said...

I remember all of those fabrics and I was teaching in the same time period. We were so excited to have such a large assortment of calico prints then. I think I went to a presentation by Julie in Houston with Darlene Roberts.