23 July 2005

On Why I Quilt - Part One

I also like to quilt (gasp) ... hence my membership in a “quilt” guild. So ... “SOMETIMES” I actually sit at my sewing machine and sew. Quilting is the process of taking large pieces of fabric, cutting it into lots of little bitty pieces of fabric, so that I can sew them back into much larger pieces of fabric again. Sometimes I think it's a fruitless hobby. But then I look in my quilting closet and see all of my UFO's (that's UnFinished Objects) stacked in their plastic shoeboxes.

Quilting is also my homage to my foremothers. To all the work they did to make my life possible. I once read a book called A Midwife's Tale it's the recounting of the journal of a woman who lived on the coast of southern Maine around the turn of the 18th to the 19th century. Not surprisingly, she was a midwife. What amazed me about this book was how separate the women's lives were from
the men's. So separate that they really had a separate economy going. It's an amazing book and an amazing look into the lives of how people scrabbled out an existence on the edge of so-called civilization at the time. It's quite possible that this lady helped deliver some of my ancestors into the world ... which is kind of funny (wierd) to think about.

So when I quilt ... cut big pieces of fabric into little pieces, in order to sew them back into big pieces again ... somehow it connects me with those ladies who have gone before me in time; with my grandmother for certain because sometimes I use her sewing machine that she gave me when she died. But with my great grandmothers and my aunts and their sisters, and with the slaves who slipped away from plantations and followed the quilt signals on the Underground Railroad, and with the women who left everything they knew and walked across this whole continent to find something new. It connects me across time and miles and helps me to connect those women with my daughter too and someday (I hope) to connect them with her daughter as well. For some reason what those women did is very important to me ... they made meals, and washed clothes, and dreamed dreams so their children could grow up to be just a little better than they were. It's important ... and that's one of the reasons quilting is so important to me.

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