Inspiring Quilters, Stitch by Stitch
When I was a young bride the first time around in the early 70's, I started out making quilts from scraps of material left over from clothing sewing projects. The first ones were patchwork and tied, not quilted and quite honestly, pretty ugly. I have pictures of all of my quilts and from time to time, I look at them to understand the process and the progress of change in my ideas and my quilting ability. I actually enjoy looking at them but one in particular always leaves me with a nagging sense of nausea. Not because it is so ugly but rather because I was pregnant with my first daughter, Jamie, in 1977 while making it and had morning sickness. It was a wedding quilt for my friends, Sandy and Mike (still married). I don't remember making it. I just remember the nausea.
So fast forward 43 years. I am now 65, not 22 and the world is a very different place. When I look back on those days as a young wife and mother, things seem so simple and relatively easy, although I do remember there being hardship and heartache as we made our way to this day. And when I look back just a month ago, a year ago, it is easier to remember the challenges we faced, both personally and collectively, but nothing like today as we all shelter at home and follow the news of deaths worldwide and confusion among leaders and followers alike. And just as the wedding quilt in 1977 was my morning sickness quilt, my nausea quilt, there will be my coronavirus quilt and this blog post is it's story.
A few years ago, I became aware of the incredible amount of good luck, love, health and advantage I enjoyed as a middle class American, a quilter, a member of a family, and as a human being in general and I wanted to give something back. So I made the decision that I would give away one quilt a year to a non-profit which they could use for fundraising purposes. I do not have a great fortune so giving a lot of money was never going to be possible. I could, however, make lots of quilts. In Fall 2019, I asked my two daughters, Jamie and Becky, if either of their children's schools had fundraising events that would appreciate a quilt from me in 2020. Maybe it was bad timing, the school year starting, the holidays coming up, but neither of them responded very enthusiastically.
Then in January, daughter Jamie in California, who has two kiddles, Wyatt and Ruby,at Croce Elementary, said her PTA holds a fundraiser every May, their theme this year was "The Year of the Maker," and that they would love a quilt. I was in the middle of a Christmas chicken quilt for granddaughter Sylvia (see two previous blog posts) and currently stuck on what the back would look like. So we talked and I learned the school colors were purple and white and the mascot was a cheetah. A purple and white cheetah quilt it would be then and I had four months to do it. Progress was going well, blocks were made and assembled. Borders were added. The quilt was pinned and basted. And then the world tilted into the Twilight Zone.
I still work full-time (I am a membership and development coordinator for an art museum) and I am working from home now. The available time I have for my obsession with quilting is quite the same as before Coronavirus hit us all smack between the eyes. I watch the posts of my fellow quilters on-line and see all the beautiful quilts they are creating in this down time but I will only have one Corona quilt. And something tells me that in the future, the one I hope we all live to see, God willing, whenever I see this purple and white cheetah quilt, made for a May fundraising event that will never occur now as school is cancelled for the rest of the year, I will remember both the sadness and the stress, but also the overwhelmingly goodness of people during this troubled time of worldwide disease and death.
So now I have to decide what to do with this quilt which has no event to look forward to. What do you think about when you quilt? Sometimes I watch movies I have seen before and are very familiar to me so that when I miss some of it because I am heads down quilting, I can still rejoin it and know where we are in the plot. Most times though, I think, I muse, I solve the problems of the world in my pointy little head. I could wait til next year and donate the quilt. I could give it to my grandchildren who love both the color purple and their Cheetahs. But I have decided to give the quilt to the school this year anyway as a gift to the students, a morale booster and a reminder of a time we lived through together, though distanced from each other, some by only six feet, some by a thousand miles. My daughter has discussed this plan with both the PTA and the awesome school principal and they have decided to take the quilt and hang it in their student common room. I have told them they may auction it off next year or keep it and in the event they keep it, I will make another for them to auction next year.
I want to make my personal Corona quilt memory a positive one. We all need to find the good in this time of social distancing, of missing our loved ones and our normal lives. And once it is over, once the danger is past and the cascade of death has abated, we must build the world again, better than before for all of us. All of us, every human being. The movie we know so well is still playing on, even though we are heads down surviving and making each day count as best we can. So for now, be safe, stay home, be well and be positive. You were never in this alone.
And don't forget to wash your hands!