“This has been so good for me today. I’ve been so down in the dumps lately. I lost my best friend and have been unable to do anything. Now I have new ideas and I’m going to make….”
These words came from a new friend at a quilt guild where I gave a talk yesterday. She came up to me at the end, when people had questions or wanted to see a quilt up close again. She was beautiful, seemingly calm, serene; her outward appearance did not reveal her troubled soul. But she and I know that stitching will soothe her. She can make something while thinking of her friend. She will recapture memories in the threads and forever after, when she looks at that finished project, she will remember the good times as well as the sorrow that she felt with the loss.
My talk was Capturing a Story in a Quilt. I shared stories that had prompted a quilt project of mine, like Granny Zee’s Scrap Baskets, or Government Bird Going for a Ride, as well as stories that evolved with the quilt (one example being Ollie Jane’s Flower Garden).
The centerpiece of the talk was Fifty-Two Tuesdays, a Journal Quilt, where I intentionally set out to chronicle a year of my life in fabric. But all of us who stitch know that every quilt we make holds memories; of friends who sat with us as we stitched, of travels where some fabric was purchased, or situations in life that accompanied the project’s progress.
In order for others to know those stories that live within the quilts, we need to write them down. A story quilt is a good visual cue to share family stories with future generations, but a written record will help preserve the details.
A quilting friend has recently prepared a manuscript ready to print a few copies as gifts for family members. A daughter-in-law interested in genealogy asked Ethel to write down some family stories, so she did. Keeping it simple, she wrote as if she were talking to this daughter-in-law. No editors, or publishers, or agents are needed these days, even if you want it bound and want multiple copies.
I treasure some memories my aunt wrote on scraps of stationery; she shared stories my mother had told me, but the details were fuzzy. I love that I have a written record of those childhood stories, compliments of my cousin Susie and her copying machine.
I left yesterday’s meeting with new friends and new intentions. Some of them shared their plans to write down memories associated with their quilts. I saw projects that inspire me to go to the sewing machine!