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Quilting Party

Quilting Party

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 I didn’t know how many would come to my quilting party but I knew, however many or few, we’d have a good time. I invited women I know and love, some of whom are excellent quilters, some just learning, one who decided to work on her own creative crocheting project. There were four of us at the quilting frame, two on each side, with others coming and going, sharing a story, a laugh, and some heartening hugs.

It was a glorious beautiful morning outside and, because of my quilting friend Sally and her husband Wes, we had the quilt on a nice frame and a light that is perfect for quilting. It was a great morning for quilting on my nine-patch quilt I named “Sunny Afternoon.” The name is right for all the bright colors, the hummingbirds, butterflies, flowers and blueberries.

During hard times in our country’s history women quilted. They quilted to keep their families warm. They quilted using whatever resources they had, remnants of torn or outgrown garments, flour sacking and unbleached muslin. They quilted so all their blankets could go to keep their soldiers warm. In more affluent times and with new exciting fabrics they became extravagantly creative. In leaner times they made do with what they had. They quilted alone in their rural separateness. But sometimes they had a quilting party or quilting bee. Getting together to quilt they could actually finish several quilts in one day and everyone enjoyed it.

Women today don’t need to quilt. We can buy handmade quilts from China for far less than it costs to make them ourselves. We don’t need quilts as door hangings as pioneer women did. We don’t even have time to quilt. Working women are scattered every day to highly intense jobs, and when a busy homemaker gets home she and her spouse have hungry children, and then there are ball games, PTO meetings, and the list goes on.

But, yes, women do need to quilt. They need it for their own emotional health, for spiritual wellbeing, for connecting with the past, the future, and themselves. They need it for the sense of accomplishment it gives. They need it for passing on to their daughters a skill of the past and for teaching them to be resourceful, for our future may very well require that.

And, yes, quilting now is a very popular craft for women and for men. There is such a satisfaction and joy in making something beautiful even if, as in my case, the squares are not square and the seams keep dashing away from straight!

The word “quilt” comes from the Latin word “culcita” which means stuffed sack. It is a cloth sandwich with a decorated top layer (whether pieced fabric, appliquéd work, or a whole fabric with intricately stitched design), a soft filler (one hundred years ago the filler was dense, heavy cotton, but now is light and easy to stitch through), and the backing which also showcases the hundreds of stitches made on the topside.

I wondered if new quilters, or some who hadn’t quilted since forever, would grow quickly discouraged at a quilting party and remember something else they needed to do. I made a crock pot of soup, muffins, and brownies before they came so the house would smell so good they’d have to stay for lunch. And they did.

I also planned that we’d take turns being readers, read good wholesome shorts from Guideposts, maybe some poetry of Sidney Lanier, and our favorite Bible passages. There was no need for that plan! The chatter amongst us was all the entertainment we needed. Juanita, who is a veteran quilter, told us about some of her quilting successes and errors (we love to know that someone so good can make a mistake!). Annette helped us remember quilters in our church who now are in heaven and that brought on some interesting discussion on what may be happening in heaven. Sue, who had never quilted before, got so excited when she could see she’d stitched three three-inch blocks, we all had a good laugh. And when I sewed my finger to the quilt all I could hear other than giggles was “Don’t bleed on it!” Juanita kindly helped me cut free.

The moment-by-moment comments of quilters range from “All right! There went the knot popping in” to “Who had the thread last?” to “If I hurry, I can get to the end of this block before the thread runs out.” There are the peaceful murmury sounds of a long thread winging through fabric, of knots popping in, of the quilting frame creaking and giving to the quilters’ movements.

We talked about prayer needs. There were several heavy ones just amongst the few of us. We avoided politics this crazy election year but talked gleefully about our grandchildren, new folks in our community, how many bricks are going to be visible on the sidewalks when Cairo’s renovated town center is complete. We even talked about football. Sue lives near the high school stadium; Annette is an avid fan as am I.

Lunch was fun. My husband came home, helped serve iced tea, and, as usual, kept everyone enthralled with one of his animal stories from a morning’s work. Was that the day they put a 500 pound sow on a surgical table designed for dogs? And Dr. Kidd, a neat little lady veterinarian, stood up on a stool to get the right surgical perspective.

When my friends started to go, I gave them each one of my books, an author’s prerogative, and reminded them to take their thimbles, souvenirs of our quilting party. And we formed a circle around the quilt and prayed for those prayer needs, especially for Sally recovering from a fall and about to have surgery.

Titus 2:3 says this about women and I think it applies to all the wonderful quilters in my background including my mother and to present quilters, discounting, of course, the “a” word: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

They all said they’d come back. And that’s really good because my quilt is not nearly finished.

Below is a picture of my dear granddaughter Amanda who helps me “blog” my pictures. I insisted she make stitches too! Charli was very patient and curious.

If you’ve had fun giving a quilting party, or just quilting, why not make a comment below?

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Focusing on Collections

I didn’t really start out to collect lighthouses. They were so appealing, though, bright and cheerful beacons to steer ships to safety, all so different, representative of rocky or otherwise dangerous points around our vast shoreline. I have now a very modest collection of lighthouses from favorite coasts we’ve visited and from others where sisters and friends have gone and brought me mementos. I have, among others, one from Maine, several from St. Simon’s Island, one from Cape Canaveral, one from Aruba, my newest one acquired last summer on a memorable family vacation.

I didn’t plan to collect bottles either. My first one, I think, was a smelling salts bottle used by my great aunt De, an oddly shaped bottle with a stopper in the top. I have a great interest in things of the past and I’d included Aunt De in some of my writing. Her character has been immortalized by family stories, such as her love of many cats and how she cooked rats to feed them. Then there were several colorful little bottles we found at our old place Lane of Palms. Seeing my enjoyment of interesting bottles, my son William at a very young age, purchased an old (very old) flask-type mayonnaise bottle at an antique store and gave it to me for Christmas. Naturally, that is now a treasure. Being a Georgian, I was excited when I acquired one of the original small coke bottles. And so it went!

Everyone who loves to pick up seashells on the beach also enjoys keeping at least some of them. Early on, I realized my desire to keep seashells was going to require some kind of heavy discipline. I found a large, two-foot-high clear bottle perfect for collecting seashells and I became very selective about what I’d bring home. My collection includes at least one shell or small stone from every seashore I’ve visited whether St. George Island, Florida, Hawaii and Alaska, the rocky coast of Maine, the shores of Lake Superior, the Oregon Coast, the shores of the Sea of Galilee and even the Dead Sea, and the intriguing beaches on the island of Aruba. More than once, someone has offered to give me his/her shells so I can go ahead and fill my bottle to the top. But no! This is my collection and the main fun is in building it. When my bottle is full, I’ll have to stop bringing shells home!

My sisters collect dolls so I steered away from that area of accruing. But somehow I’ve ended up with a few treasures I can’t readily part with: two or three from my childhood, one beautiful doll from Savannah, Georgia who looked at me from amongst her antique companions and simply said she must go home with me. Her name is Savannah. Then there are the skaters I used only to bring out for display at Christmas until one year I couldn’t bear to cover all their little bright faces up and decided they must skate all the year around! My favorite doll is one my sister, the doll dressmaker, clad in clothes to represent our mother when she was a blonde-headed farm girl. I wrote the fictionized version of my mom and dad’s romance,(“Juliana of Clover Hill” pictured below) and Juliana dressed in blue gingham is just about the height of that colorful paperback.

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The collections I really planned to do were those of postcards and thimbles. Everywhere my husband and I have gone for many years now can be remembered by a thimble in my collection displayed in an old printer’s tray, and/or by at least one postcard. Sisters and brothers and others have brought me thimbles from their travels as well, so I have one for many of the states, for several countries, and for other categories, such as wildflowers, Christmas, and historical sites. My most unusual one is the one my sister Pat gave me. It’s a small regular, real thimble, dark grey metal. She said the lady who gave it to her had been given it by her grandmother who sat as a child on Abraham Lincoln’s knee!

Books don’t even count as a collection. Books are simply a part of one’s life. That is another topic entirely. Same for pictures, scarves, hats, etc.

Some things I’ve learned recently about collections: they’re easier to write about than to move, they’re much more interesting to the collector than to anyone else, and they are fun reminders of happy experiences and wonderful people. I’ve realized museums would be hard-pressed without collections, but we don’t want our house to be a museum!

The culmination of this little feature on collections is to remind myself that moderation in collections is wise, that we don’t necessarily need physical reminders to help us enjoy events and people, and that letting go of things is sometimes very, very wise.

Hey, there are very interesting collections one can make that take up almost no space. For instance, a collection of interesting bumper stickers or odd names of businesses or apropos names of professional people, like the surgeon named Dr. Payne. But the best collection we can make is the memorization of poems and of scripture. Now that collection will stand you in good stead when you’re stuck somewhere without your Bible, or trying to go to sleep in the wee hours, not to mention horrific times like sitting by someone in the hospital.

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