The other day we had the old school house set up for our annual book sale and so had pushed the one quilt frame off to the side. Those of us working that day could then either sell books or sit and quilt. At one point Joan was quilting and explaining the technique to the various folks who stopped to watch her. We actually had three quilts out: the blue one we are currently working on, the one with hearts we are raffling off this year, and the lovely one we just finished that we are selling. The price tag is $1000 and we all agree it has a lot and I mean A LOT of work in it. Its a beauty though and I figure it only takes one person to walk in, see it, really appreciate it and take out a check book. Anyhow so there was Joan explaining how hand quilting is done and how many stitches to the inch. One woman who just moved to the area was interested in learning and said she might join us in the fall when we start up again. She was explaining how she probably wouldn’t be a fast quilter but would try her best. Joan pointed out that yes Fridays are about quilting but they are also about therapy. At that moment I realized once again how smart Joan is. Of course it’s about therapy! Sitting around the quilting frame, relaxed and stitching, talking and listening and laughing. If only we could market this, we wouldn’t have to raffle quilts. But of course I also believe that it’s valuable for people to own these quilts. Each quilt somehow holds all that energy and thoughtfulness that the women give in taking those thousands upon thousands of stitches. And the laughter and the tears and the kindness. All of that gets absorbed into the quilt as we sit around the frame. So yes, even if we could market quilting therapy, we would still want people to buy quilts so they could take this magic home to put on their bed.
For as many years as some of these women remember, we have had quilts in the closet waiting to be done in the fall. Some were quilts tops that someone in the valley had gotten from a grandmother or great-aunt that needed to be hand quilted. Others were newer ones someone pieced and didn’t have the time to hand quilt so brought it to the Historical Village for the women there to work on (we recently finished one for a woman in Texas!). Our fees are incredibly reasonable for the amount of work it takes. And our fees are incredibly important because it is by charging for hand quilting that we raise money to help maintain the Village. But this Spring…and yes I know it is still only early April….we don’t have any quilts in the closet for fall and its a bit disconcerting to some of us. We can always make our own quilts to raffle or sell but that usually doesn’t bring in as much money for the projects in the Village. So Lynda asked if I would help get the word out. I am letting all of you who read this blog know and perhaps you will even share with your friends that we are looking for those special individuals who need hand quilting done. In trying to decide which photo to use for this, I opted for the beautiful colors of one that Carmen’s mother donated to us. It was pieced back in the 40s or 50s. We hand tied it because the fabrics and style called for that. And I admit I couldn’t resist and bought it when it was finished. Now it is hanging in my living room as a background for a Derek Trotter painting. But I shouldn’t get sidetracked by the colors…thanks for helping to get the word out that we are looking for quilts that need to be lovingly sewn by this very special group of women.
I know that we are nearly into Spring as Sally brought some daffodils just a week ago. The grass on the Village grounds is turning green and the lilac bushes are starting to leaf out. Surely we have made it through another winter but then last week at quilting it felt like we were still struggling. Bonnie was out laid up with a bad infection. Cathryn was out taking care of her son who recently had surgery. Bev is out caring for her husband. There was a fragile feeling as though we had to talk softly and send our energy out to those who were having a rough time of it. When Lynda left early and then Cathy couldn’t stay, we were down to five of us quilting in the afternoon. There was a certain peacefulness without too much talk and without any visitors. Mary Louise and I both could focus more on our quilting without the social distractions and felt our stitches were more even. But still…we missed those who couldn’t be there. Almost as though we had to quilt harder in their spirit. Almost as though we had to quilt better. I thought a lot about Cathryn who truly is one of the best quilters amongst us. Her stitches are so small and so even and she quilts so fast. I was trying hard to inhabit her mindfulness as I quilted last week, being focused on each stitch but not going too slow. I appreciate the example some of these women give me. Not only the way that they quilt but the way they live their lives. Their generosity of spirit; the purposefulness of their days.