Tuesday, May 14, 2013

it's about family

Sometimes it seems there are quilts I just have to make.  I may not know why when I start--I just want to see what it will look like. I am curious. But there is something deeper too. At least that is the story of this quilt which I began some days ago. I knew I was tense. More pre-occupied than usual. After all, the memorial services for my FIL were going to be held soon and my DH and I were hosting the after party.  I think I should put that in Caps. This was a BIG deal.

You see my FIL comes from a large complex family. Relatives on both sides. Some of whom I know--they may even live just down the road from me.  Others that I had never met before.  Or just knew slightly. There were the traditional rivalries and factions. Those who did or did not  speak with each other. Stories going back way before my time. The end of an era. The passing of the torch to the next generation--my generation--and all of the emotion that the loss of a father or a father figure can create.

Now those who know me know that I am not a party giver. I work in my studio. Make quilts. Play in my garden. My family was small and compact. I knew my stories and my histories. But somehow we were hosting 50 people. I had to be organized. In charge.

And this is where the story returns to quilts. After all, my loyal readers are really not very interested in my husband's family or even my angst about throwing a party. But of course what did I do to calm myself but start a quilt. Like duh!!! I wasn't even sure when I started why I just had to make this quilt but I needed something to do. And I was curious about this piece. I could almost see it in my mind's eye.

So a few days before the party I made the first tentative blocks.

Amazing how good it felt to pin these four squares up on the wall. Yes, this was the way to go.

A few more. These colors are so lush. I felt like I was doing something.

But would it work? I knew the idea involved motion and color going both ways. Let me try.

Interesting look. The next days I came in and made a few more rows. I do love how it is coming together, don't you? Still not sure exactly where it is going but it feels like a statement. A purpose. Come to the studio. Sew. Make progress. Relax. Center myself.  Go home and clean house. Shop. Confer with my DH who has been working even more tirelessly for this occasion--it is his family after all. His father. His loss. Deal with the issues that invariably arise.

The day came. Of course it poured. But the sun came out just as they played Taps. There was enough food. Pizza and polenta. Lots of ice cream--my FIL loved ice cream. So many absolutely wonderful people to meet. So many great stories to tell and retell. And I realized that maybe the reason I just had to make this quilt was because it too was about family. How interwoven it all is. Tales that weave in and out.

I am still not sure what the quilt will look like when it is done. So much work to still do on it--I find it hard to be patient as I piece one row--one strip at a time still hoping that it will all come together as I want it to. But maybe this is why I had to make this quilt at this time? Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever make a quilt to sustain yourself? Is this why I sew?


  1. I understand completely, Ann.

    Remember the many stories of "mourning quilts" where people used to take the left over clothing of the deceased and cut it up to make a quilt? We just need to express our emotions somehow and being creative is one of the best ways. The colors in your quilt are intere
    sting, deep hues. How appropriate. I notice no blacks which says to me you are processing this loss well and I'm sure the stories and the quilt are products of this process.

    BTW, I'm a PK (preacher's kid), so my family coped with funerals and death so much. Still it was far more intense when it hit our own family circle. I believe this quilt will be a comfort to all the family and you will be so thankful God gave you the incentive to make it.

  2. Lovely, and perfectly said.

  3. I love where this quilt is going and I think it will be a beautiful testimony to the moment in which you found yourself-- loss and gathering; angst and peace; the ember of one life passing the torch to the next generation.

    And yes, to answer the question, I find that I make quilts to sustain myself, to express concepts and feelings roiling around within me and welling up in ways to which no words do justice. These are my most personal quilts-- raw and pulsing with realities so vivid I only share them with my closest friends.

    Thank you for sharing and may you both find the comfort and peace in this loss and transition that has come to you.

  4. This is a beautiful beginning! Yes, I too make quilts to process and deal with the emotions in my life. In fact, both quilting and mosaics made from smashed tiles, my other medium, are about taking something whole, breaking or cutting it into smaller pieces and then putting it back together in some new, hopefully more beautiful way. It seems to me that for me this about dealing with the chaos and finding some way to make beautiful order in the midst of it.