The town I live in, Beatrice, Nebraska is celebrating it's 150th year as a town this entire year. This past weekend, I went with my mother to a quilt display that spanned the entire 150 years. There was one quilt from each decade. Most of them seem to have come from one family, lucky them, to have that heritage. It was a sweet, unpretentious display... no glass cases, no one demanding that you not breath on the quilts. There was a small, very small sign, asking that you not touch the quilts, easily overlooked. In a larger city, I have a feeling there would have been a white gloved museum archivist, actively guarding the past. I have to admit, I touched.
I'm a texture person, couldn't help myself. There was a crazy quilt from the Civil War era that captured my heart. Slivers of fine velvets, satins mixed in with common cottons told the story, but it was the elegant, flowing embroidery that really spoke to me. It was almost as though the quilt maker was saying, "they can take my stuff, but they can't take my soul." I think most people had dramatic life changes during that time period, no matter what side they championed. Goods were scarce, families separated, nothing was stable. But the quiltmaker perservered. Her finery may have been reduced to rags, but she could turn them into something beautiful to serve another purpose. The stitching was as fine as any lady of leisure could have done, although I suspect there was not alot of leisure time for ladies of that era.
So, I wonder, did she do those feathery stitches while wondering what became of a lover or son? Did she loose herself in stitching as she mused about her life back east, before the chaos? What memories did the velvet hold for her?
As I turn to my crochet work to ease the stress in my daily life, I connect with the unknown quiltmaker, and I understand.