Friday, January 20, 2006

My Grandmother's Quilts


While I was visiting Winnipeg I spent time with my sister Donna and with my brother Derrick. As is usually the case in such situations, I was loaned the spare bed and some extra blankets to sleep myself and my toddler (isn't he cute?). In and of itself, this is a wholely unsurprising turn of events.

But a cool thing happened. Both of the quilts I was given to sleep on were ones that had been hand made by our grandmother. The quilt to the left belongs to Derrick. The one below and to the right belongs to Donna.

They are not particularly remarkable quilts in any other way. Neither quilt has the kind of complex pattern or artistically chosen colours that would win a quilting contest, or land it in a heritage quilt museum. They would never be pictured in a quilting magazine. They are importatnt to me, however.

It was the memory of these quilts (as the youngest sibling by many years I never received one) that sparked my own interest in quilting. These quilts reach across time. When I slept with them wrapped around me, I felt as if I was wrapped in my grandmother's embrace. Her hands spent hours carefully stitching each square together, and then joining those squares and quilting through all the fabric. She must have thought of each of her grandchildren as she made their quilt, perhaps praying for them as she worked. These quilts contain her time, her prayers and her love.
These quilts also reminded me of something that is important to me right now. I am seeking a new creative outlet, something that is feasable as a stay at home mom to a busy toddler. Quilting is something I can do bit by bit, square by square, stitch by stitch.
I realized, as I looked at these quilts, that my grandmother has her own quirky eye for colour and pattern. You can't see it, but each fabric in Donna's quilt has a different texture. She was not a great artist, but she expressed her creativity every day of her life. She did not feel the pressure to do something that would be placed in a museum. It was enough to simply make something that she thought was nice and servicable. This is the kind of practical creativity that was common in past generations of women. The kind of creativity that I can embrace, and hopefully enjoy.
One day, as each of my children leaves my bed and graduates to their own room, I hope to be able to send a quilt of their own with them. One that they can use and enjoy. Maybe one day they will cherish it, and feel my embrace as they wrap it around them each night.

1 comment:

Kris said...

Yes, he is beautiful (and so are the quilts)