Monday, 13 June 2016

Monday morning musings

Browsing through a very old needlework ecyclolpedia in a second hand book store I read :

 "Patchwork as the name implies, is needlework in which patches or small pieces of material are used for the purpose of constructing or decorating an article. The methods of working employed are simple ..............True patchwork is a mosaic of geometrically shaped patches seamed edge to edge."

Driving home I was thinking about this definition of patchwork and quilting. The writer, in defining the craft, had omitted to mention the essential "ingredigent' used. A piece of the quilter's heart and soul is sewn into each patchwork quilt. I recalled a story that Sandra had recently shared with me earlier in the week.

"Many years ago, I read a book that had a great impact on me. I don't remember the name of the book or who wrote it, but the story has always stayed with me.

It was about an American family who were travelling West by Wagon Train, from one side of America to the other. A very hard and dangerous way to travel at the time, but many people did it, trying to make a new life for their families.

The family in my story were a normal young American family from the East. A father, mother and their children. They travelled in a wagon with all their goods and chattels joining a Wagon Train for protection. Trips would take months to get where they wanted to go.

On their way West one of the younger children sadly became ill and passed away. The parents were devastated especially the Mother. She found that her grief was unbearable with the loss of this beloved child. One of the women on the Wagon Train encouraged her to pick up her needle and thread and to begin stitching a very special quilt in memory of her beloved child. She did and she found as she worked that the rhythm of stitching helped her come to terms with her loss.

I have found that there have been occasions when I've picked up my needle and stitched samplers that have helped me come to terms with my loss and I've found that the rhythm of the needle really does help one cope".


So much of our lives and emotions go into our needlework. Our needle shares our trials and can give comfort.

My drive home was long and my "musings" progressed to the life of those pioneering women at the end of the trail. Life would have been hard and lonely. Living in England my image of that life is formed by the "Western" movies featured on TV and from novels. Quilting is often mentioned in novels usually when the homesteaders come together with the men barn building and the women to quilt.


The importance of the quilting bee to those women was not merely an opportunity for women to make a long, tedious task go quicker, it was a chance to socialize.


I imagine the women walking across rough country, carrying a basket of carefully hoarded scraps to attend quilting bees.

The scraps of fabric would be added to the pool, and pieced together with others’ scraps in order to make up a quilt.


In the isolation of farms and ranches, the quilting bee was a time of working, laughing, and gossip; a way to catch up on the goings-on in the community.

The women would be offering lots of advice to each other, exchanging medical information,  not only how to doctor a family, but giving psychological advice, as well as tips on household management and cookery.


Whilst today we might not be walking past miles of corn and wheat to get together we are connecting through the internet where blogs, groups and forums cover an array of questions. We are still turning to each other for advice and companionship.


MEMORIES by Patricia Everson

Sit down and I'll tell you a story
Wrap yourself up in my quilt.
Here's a cup of my coffee
The wood stove is filled to the hilt.

Quilting is more than a hobby.
To me it is a record of life,
Recording for me all the good times,
Remembering for me all the strife.

This patch was made from a bunting.
The baby had now moved away.
And this one came from my sister,
From a dress that was yellow and grey.

Below this one from my brother
Is one from my aunt who just died.
If you look close you can cipher
Her signature on the left side.

And here over next to the corner
Is a piece from my mother's old skirt.
And this one right in the middle
Was made from my father's red shirt.

This one came out a bit crooked.
The material was faded and worn.
No wonder it looks so dejected,
It was woven before I was born.

Beneath this one at the bottom
Is one that is worth more than gold.
It came from my old winter jacket,
It kept me safe from the cold.

This blue one I found in the cellar
When we moved to this house long ago.
Who knows what story it covets,
This old, faded, worn calico.

Above the green one in the center
Is my most favorite one of all.
It looks like the leaves by the river
Just after they drop in the fall.

And let's not forget this pink gingham,
I know that it's seen better days,
But I like the way that it mingles
With the yellows and purples and greys

Before you finish your coffee
And you have to be on your way,
Take a look at this one near the bottom,
It came from my Great Uncle Ray.

He traveled the world in a schooner,
He brought back such wonderful things.
The material is of the richest,
Fit only for princes and kings.

Some store their treasures in bank vaults,
Some keep them hidden away,
But I keep mine here on my quilt top
Where I can enjoy them each day.
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