The Winner of the Quilt Album software is:
Congratulations, Jackie! Send me your mailing address and Laura will send you your software.
Ok. In my last podcast/blog, I asked you to share the secret story in one of your quilts. I’m going to share with you one of mine:
The Log Cabin Quilt. This is a long story, so tuck in.
This quilt has longevity. (that’s why the story is a long one.)
I started this quilt just after I made Kirsten’s First Day of School Dress. (I of course had to stop writing and see if I could find the picture of her to add to the blog from the photo binders. No luck. It must still be in one of dozen boxes of photos that I need to scan…)
Here is the little peach goose fabric I used for Kirsten’s dress. You’ll find out below why this quilt has wonky seams…
Do any of you remember this peach calico print? I bought yards and yards and yards of this. Looking at it 30 years later, I still like this little print. It’s a great focus fabric. Hmmm…
In 1986, we were finally getting away from just calicoes and solids because our beloved Quilters were beginning to design their own fabrics. Look at these prints that allowed us to walk on the wild side with our fabric selections! The paisley was considered daring!!
I had a few scraps of the fabric left – perfect to add to the new quilt I’m making and put a little “family history” into the quilt. My only Log Cabin. The first quilt that really caught my eye in my future mother-in-law’s Family Circle magazine in 1979.
I already had three quilts under my belt so I figured I could tackle something like an easy strippy Log Cabin. Oh, just to give it a little challenge, I’m going to machine quilt it (in the ditch) and put it together quilt-as-you-go style, only as rows rather than blocks. Yeah.
So, I cut all of these strips with my new rotary cutter: peach prints, rust prints, brown prints, light green prints, dark green prints in l-o-n-g 2″ strips and laid them out to sew. I wanted it to be random and chose the Pinwheel setting for the quilt.
It’s the setting in the bottom right corner. Did you have any idea that you had so many choices?
The quilt almost came out the way I wanted it to. Or it would have, if I had not just sewn each new strip on and cut it off on the end, making wildly uneven blocks and odd sizes. Or used a walking foot to quilt it. Or knew what I was doing, really.
Anyway – here’s the story:
When Kirsten started Kindergarten, we were living in a duplex on a sleepy little street where the school was just a short walk away. After taking her to school the first day, I actually came home and worked sewing my log cabin blocks while Ryan played with all of Kirsten’s My Little Pony’s.
Just after the first of the year, WebGuy would face his first lay-off of his career. He was a glass blower in the computer chip industry, making bell jars that they made the wafers in. National Geographic came to the shop where he worked and photographed him for this issue:
It was a pretty cool job that he had and it allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom. All of this was going to change now. During the second semester of kindergarten, we relocated and began managing an apartment complex. Wow — what a bumpy ride we would encounter doing that! Tenants knocking on our door at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning wanting to know why the power was out — didn’t we know they had to get their turkey in? We were surrounded by 50 other families, all needing help that it was our job to provide. It’s like living in a gold fish bowl. But it was a job, one that would last and support us for the next two years.
During that time, my kids learned how to swim in the complex pool. They would come in from swimming, now shivering – I’d wrap them up in that Log Cabin quilt and they’d fall asleep on the sofa while I continued to hand quilt on the rose sampler. While we were managing, an old injury flared up which left me with a pinched nerve in my neck. I will take natural childbirth any day of the week over a pinched nerve. I went through an intense period of pain that wouldn’t allow me to sleep in bed, so I slept on the couch under the log cabin quilt. I thought I would never be well again or be able to walk my kids to school again. I’m not sure which was worse, the lay-off or not being able to work. Luckily, I eventually got better, but it would take four years for the pain to abate completely. During that time, Ryan would come and sit carefully next to me when he came home from school, on top of the quilt. On one occasion, he left the top off of a roller ball pen and the ink from the tip wicked into the quilt – black ink, of course. It wasn’t permanent ink, but it wouldn’t come out all the same. I remember being so upset about that ink stain, and today, I’m happy that it’s there. It reminds me of my now-grown father-himself son, who was so sweet when he was a little boy. There are so many memories of my kids, making a fort with that quilt, asleep on the sofa, coming to tell me about their day at school and being careful when they kissed me…
We moved five times over the course of the next ten years, being “promoted” to new apartment complexes and then finally having enough of that. After move #4, the Log Cabin quilt was relegated to a place of prominence in our home – hung on a 20′ high wood-paneled wall, as ART. It was never so pretty as when it was displayed against the wood and up high like that.
My kids grew and then the Boy Wonder came along, adding to our little family. The quilt came down off the wall and wrapped a new shivering child for a nap after swimming. WebGuy and I both started in High Tech, which was really in full swing by now. We both worked at Apple Computer, the most fun place in the world to work. I didn’t have so much time to quilt with a full-time job and the homework every night with the kids and little league on the weekends. Then, Robin was off to kindergarten, we added not one but two golden retrievers into the chaos – who each loved napping on top of the quilt.
Fast forward to Y2k and our Golden having kidney failure, me having pneumonia and our house on the market. We hadn’t known real chaos until that point – isn’t it funny how our perspective changes? While moving is no picnic, this particular move was brutal. I understood what it was like to be a pioneer going across the plains. To be so bone-weary that you don’t want to get out of bed, but knowing that the movers are coming today and you have to be one of them. It was packing up my cherished quilts when I noticed the wear on the Log Cabin quilt. Oh, it wasn’t just wear, it was HOLES. Oh dear.
Ok, granted, this is a little one, but the other side of the quilt has more damage.
Luckily, I have a box, a UFO of small blocks that I started after I finished the Log Cabin that I never touched again. So it’s close to being 30 years old itself, those scraps. I decided that I would applique little flowers on top of the holes and preserve the life of the Log Cabin because it is just that precious to me. It’s not the quilt that is so much precious, as the memories of my growing family and all that we went through during that decade when they were each starting school.
In writing this story out, I realize that there is so much more history than I can share with you. There are years of family dynamic in there. Challenges, triumphs, the hopes and dreams, tears and overwhelming happiness, disappointment and sweet family moments. The secret story is MY story – the one that I will share in my personal life history with my family, that is just a little too personal to share here – and much longer ; ) The Log Cabin quilt has witnessed it all, and that ‘s the story that is hidden in that quilt – known only by me, it’s maker.
So you see, the secret story in your quilts is the one that only YOU know. It’s more than the pattern you chose, the fabrics you used and how long it took you to make it and what techniques you employed.
Have you looked at your quilts in that way?
Take just ONE of your quilts that you made a while ago. Look at the fabrics, think about when it was that you’ve made and how you’ve used it. Who has been wrapped up in that quilt? What family history is in that quilt? What was going on in your life, in your family, where you live, and in the world during the time that it took you to begin the quilt and when you finished it?
Many years ago, Quilter’s Newsletter had a little clipping that got me to think about the secret story in my quilt that is mine to keep secret or to tell. It was a about a quilter, reminiscing while quilting. It goes like this: I work out my struggles while I quilt. It helps me put things in the right order. When I’m mad at my husband, I quilt furiously and work it out. When things are good, I quilt calmly and enjoy the peace that quilting brings. Up there on the mantel are pictures of my family where I can see them while I quilt. I think about each of them while I quilt. My wedding picture, the pictures of my children: one of my son in uniform. He died in the war. I worked out my grief for him while I quilted. I gave that quilt to a family in need. I keep a pile of finished quilts in the entryway by the door. Being a minister’s wife, there is always someone in need of some comfort and I don’t know what is better comfort than a quilt. Working on it or giving it away.
Your quilt will speak to you — it will help you recall to mind the personal history that is hidden in the fabrics and the stitches. Be ready when it tells you so you can write it down and add it to your personal history.
The Alliance for American Quilts makes it their business to preserve Quilt Histories. Many quilters think that their quilts aren’t important enough. If you made it, it’s important.
The Museum of Art and History in Salt Lake City just opened a special exhibit, Pieces of Me: Quilted Expressions of Human Ties, just in time for Quilt Market.
“Asylum Quilt” made about 1877 by patients at what is now Utah’s State Mental Hospital. Such craftsmanship was viewed as therapeutic. Can you imagine the personal stories in this quilt?!
They also have a “Submission Kiosk” where visitors can video record their own stories involving quilts. ”We have beautiful pieces on the wall, but we did this [interesting] thing,” said Jennifer Hadley, co-curator of the exhibit at the opening. “Instead of focusing on techniques and style, we also decided to look at the stories behind the quilts. And we also decided that, with those stories that are such a big part of who we are and our relationships with each other, we wanted to combine and broaden it. We wanted this exhibit to be for people who don’t consider themselves to be quilters, just as much as it is for the quilters.”
Ok — so here’s the deal:
To have a second chance to win Quilt Album software to preserve YOUR quilt histories, here’s what you have to do:
Call me. 408-849-4882
Leave me a message that I can use on a future podcast and TELL me the story of one of your QUILTS.
Pay attention: I want to know the secret story IN your quilt. NOT how you made it, or what pattern you used or what fabric you used. I want to know YOUR story. Names will be anonymous, so you can tell us whatever you want to say and no one will know. Remember, what you leave on the message will be edited and made into a PODCAST episode.
So, you have until midnight Thursday, April 28th to call and leave your story. Call anytime, it goes straight to voicemail.
Ready, set, GO!
©2011 Annie Smith All Rights Reserved