|Mom's butterfly quilt, handed down 2016|
"Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that--one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery." --Oliver Wendell Holmes
A treasured quilt it is, one handed down to me from Mom's collection following her passing last month. I'm sure every quilt has a story--starting with the artist seamstress that stitches it, the choice of fabrics, the reason for choosing the design--but this butterfly quilt made with antique handkerchiefs has special significance for me. And a generational story.
For, you see, three of the handkerchiefs (first row, middle and right; second row, yellow, left) originally came to the family by way of a young American soldier serving in France during the Great War, World War I.
|Charles and mother, circa 1917|
The young man was Charles, my paternal grandfather. We don't know if he mailed the handkerchiefs ahead or carried them home with him--in jacket pocket perhaps or steamer trunk?--but we do know the intended receiver. He purchased them for his mother. I like to imagine how she must have cherished them, special mementoes not only of a son's love but also of his safe return. How many nights might she have cried into a handkerchief over her worry and concern for him? Went to the mail box to watch for letters?
The handkerchiefs eventually came into my dad's possession, and Mom, the quilter, often talked of using them in a quilt pattern somehow. So strong was her desire to make the quilt, she and I visited a couple of antique stores once trying to find more handkerchiefs to fill in the number needed.
Fast forward to the present, and the finished product. Isn't it beautiful? But I found out something more about this quilt and the hands that stitched it.
We writers have a special relationship, don't we, with our writer friends, critique partners, writers' groups? So, too, I found, do quilters. I had occasion to talk with one of Mom's quilting friends, Pat, at the funeral and learned that Mom's butterfly quilt was a joint project. Several sets of hands worked on it together, along with my mom.
Golden Hobby Shop (German Village/Columbus OH) to quilt. There were seven or eight of us that quilted the butterfly one. You know, we always loved getting together. We all were like sisters. We laughed together, shared our worries and our joys with each other, supported one another through many things." Days later, Pat even mailed me the quilt pattern magazine that the 'girls' drew their inspiration from (June 1990 Stitch 'N Sew Quilts)!
Thus, quilters take their needles and work at their pattern, much like writers take their words and work their patterns, too.
Do you agree with Mr. Holmes when he says, "Life is like that--one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery"?
With love, support, dedication, and courage...caring for one another and cheering each other on...generation to generation...it will be so. The beauty of a quilt is proof of it.