Sunday, April 8, 2007

Tiny stitches, and why is it snowing?

I am progressing in the stitchery department. Several blocks are finished and my quilting stitches are slowly becoming smaller and neater. The first will probably be embarrassing someday when my standards have refined, but at this point I just don't understand how those miniscule, barely visible stitches are accomplished! They certainly give me another reason to appreciate the skill put into a quality quilt.

Lately, in my ponderings of quilts and their importance, I began to realize their importance as holders of memories. Historically, there are the memory quilts made by a group of friends for one who was leaving, and traditional quilts were often pieced with scraps of old clothing. My grandmother points out pieces in her mother's quilts, remembering how a certain dress was made with this or that fabric and sharing the memories of the time associated with that particular piece of clothing.

Another way quilts are memory keepers occurred to me while stitching, and is one of the reasons I decided to hand quilt each square instead of taking the faster and simpler route of machine quilting. Hand stitching takes time, and it takes some measure of concentration, especially if the stitches are to be small and neat and the lines straight. And while this stitching is happening, the stitcher has plenty of time to think and to just be. And I really think that this time sort of stitches memories into the fabric. I sent my grandmother a wonderful book I found about quilts and their makers, called "The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art An Oral History," and reading the stories of these women reminded her of the quilting she had before she was married. It struck me that that particular quilt would have that particular time stitched right into it; how she felt as she prepared to embark on a new life would have been pondered as each stitch was made. I am wondering what I will remember from these stitches in this book I am making. I am hoping they will not be flashbacks of stressed out all-nighters as I feverishy try to finish everything before the presentation deadline.

Happy Easter!

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