Monday, May 19, 2008

Once Upon a Time When Quilts Were New

My interest in quilting began when I was in my early teens. My Grandma Murphy showed me some patterns she thought I could make and said she'd help me. Since I had had several years of sewing in 4-H, I was very interested and put the blocks together without too much dificulty, and my mom's. The first quilt I made was a fan pattern, which I've since learned is not the easiest to do, but I didn't know any better. I used fabric from all the earlier sewing projects I had made; scraps from my skirts and dresses, and from outfits I'd made my younger brothers and sister. I really loved that quilt! Later my mother had the Relief Society help to quilt it.
About 30 years later, most of it burned when we had a house fire, but I did savage some of it as a reminder. I need to take a picture of it when I go home next. I wrote the poem below about that first quilt, and also the one that my Great Grandmother Keeler hand pieced together, which had been given to me. I later gave Great Grandma's quilt to my daughter, Autumn. This picture shows Autumn and her daughter Peyton, with this special quilt that I have loved.

Quilts I have Loved
by Janet Wilcox

Jigsawed gingham once fanned across my bed,
remnants of long ago dances,
back-to-school bus rides,
and sister's pinafore.

When the fire swept up the stairs,
photographs and books were singed;
clothes and blankets crinkled under smoke and flame,
but it was this first quilt that made me weep.
Only the center was unmarred by scorch and heat.
I will frame it, a reminder of temporary things I loved.

My impetus for quilting was Great Grandma's flower garden-
hand pieced, stitch by stitch, by coal oil lamps
after crops were in and hay crews were fed.

Until I had treadled my
way across a hundred right angles,
I never knew the time she spent with needle.
Now time pricks at me, and I understand.

Great Grandma's garden was intact and whole after the fire.
Perhaps here contained the greater lesson:
Of persistence, long suffering, dedication, trials
and time to find the flowers along the way.

From the fire another quilt was pieced--
Faces with hands of service are blocked in my mind.
I have quilted them in my heart.
A comforter bound by a town's loving kindness.
This memory quilt wraps me in a hundred colors of love.

--Written after our house fire 1991--

1 comment:

Bev said...

What a neat poem. What a fun blog! This is such a great idea!