I have loved quilts for years. In fact, I have quite a collection.
My first one was a yellow and white Holly Hobby quilt. It was a great place to have an assembly of my stuffed animals. I read many books by flashlight, using it as a tent to avoid my mother’s detection. I cried in that quilt. I was an emotional softy as a kid. I laughed in that quilt. There were times I used my quilt as a rug and played games on it. My dogs laid on it with me when I was sneaky. It was a great fort. I made imaginary love to Elvis in that quilt. Yes, he was The King.
That quilt kept me warm and snuggly. It took away sorrow and sadness. It was my comfort. One day my mom took it away from me and tucked It into hiding; a safe place. She saved everything she thought was valuable. Later in my way older adulthood, my mom gave my quilt back to me and I still have it.
Over the years, quilts have been accumulating at my house. Most all of them are gifts and treasured. When I was a young teenager, I worked for my friend and rancher, Pat, through our 4-H program which was called the 4-H Slave Auction (not PC, I know). She was so tough and worked like a dog. I admired that she could do anything. We always purchased our 4-H steers from her and her husband. They did not live far from our place.
We knew Pat’s family well and they were always kind to me. The kids were my friends. Even thought most of them were older than me, I thought highly of them. Mom hired their older daughters to babysit my brother on occasion. Yes, I had to be there too, but in my mind I was ‘helping’, not being watched.
As for the 4-H money maker; I wanted to fetch as high of a price as the boys did or the popular girls, but I could never garner up that much support. It was perplexing as to why, but perhaps it was because I was ‘the smart kid’. Nevertheless, Pat bought me and we arranged for me to come to her ranch and work. And, work indeed I did. It was exhausting because not only did Pat work hard, she was going to get every penny out of me she donated to 4-H to obtain my services.
That was OK. I knew I was supposed to work hard and I did not want to disappoint. She continued to purchase me every year.
One day when she invited me in for an ice cold drink after a hot day of work, I mentioned to her that her quilts were beautiful. I had been gazing at the ones she had in her living area. She told me about them and that she had made them herself. Of course she did. Pat could do anything.
Inside my brain, I really wanted a nice quilt like that. So, I thought about it for a while.
On another occasion at Pat’s house, I struck up a conversation. I asked her if I could pay her to make me a quilt and I would save up. She pondered the idea. She declined my offer, but said I could paint her a painting in exchange. Wow. I knew that was a deal and she was getting ripped off. We shook on it. She reminded me I gave my word and she hers.
I worked hard on my painting. It had to be really good and something she would like. That way I would not feel so bad getting the better end of the deal. My inspiration came from our western way of life.
When I was finished, I thought it was not too shabby, but still did not measure up to the value of the quilt. Pat had asked me what colors I had wanted in my quilt and I said, ‘blue’.
The day came for the exchange. I sheepishly handed her my painting and received a most beautiful blue colored quilt in a very nice pattern. I loved it. I offered to work some hours for her for free on top of my painting. She told me that was not necessary. She said the painting was perfect. I really do not know if she liked the painting for real or just was telling a kid that because she was kind.
Pat passed away a few years later. I still have her quilt. It has been loved and has a couple thin areas where it is worn. It was my college comfort and later my snuggly in the real world. Today, when I use it- it is home. Home-that is an important word.
Bug’s grandmother made me some quilts and I have cherished those over the years as well. They were each customized for me with scenes of wildlife and cabins, the Wyoming bucking horse, or a nice square plaid pattern. I remember her making them and watching their progress. She put hours into each one. I was fascinated by her talent. I really miss her.
My friend Paula surprised me with a lap quilt filled with police themed patches and a velvet backing. It is often on my lap when I am typing my papers for school or grading in my office. Her table top piece often adorns my kitchen table or console.
My friend, Nola, gave me a quilt her mother had quilted by hand, after she had passed away. I admired her mother’s work for a long time and always liked visiting with her at holidays. The quilt she made consists of hundreds of tiny squares, all 2 in. x 2 in. in all the colors of the rainbow from various materials. It reminds me of a prairie quilt. It is also easy to reach on a bench near a window, but not close enough to get bleached by the sun. I do also love it dearly.
During a rough time last year after Bug graduated, her boyfriend’s grandmother made me some quilt place mats. They were a gift of happiness to cheer me up. They are perfect for my table. We use them often and they fit in with my farmhouse and Wyoming themes.
My friend, Chris, fixed an old one of mine that I thought was a goner and now it graces my window seat again. She worked on it for weeks without accepting a dime for her time and talent. Since this quilt is over 150 years old, it probably has miles of stories from being passed around like a Tuesday hooker. Boy, if it could talk.
Quilts are love.
Each time I see one at someone’s house or in an antique shop or flea market, I think about what kind of stories each one might have. I always have to touch them.I imagine the crafter, the art, and the love each one represents.
Can you imagine what they have been drug through?
Mine have seen a little bit of everything you can imagine- laughter and sorrow over time, but each one is full of love. They have mileage. The mileage from a long rough journey with emotional ups and downs. But a quilt will always deliver comfort and warmth. They were probably meant to have a positive correlation to the owner from the maker, besides a purpose. I adore each of them for their unique memories and the comfort of home they bring.