Saturday, February 9, 2008

I've loved quilts my entire life. Maybe it's because a quilt tells a story. My grandmother made my first quilt as a high school graduation present. I graduated in the late 70's when polyster knit was all the rage. My quilt reflects that era--a ship pattern made from yellow and green double-knit fabric. It remains one of my dearest treasures.

Years later my mother-in-law gave me a quilt top she made in 1929. She gave it to me because I expressed a desire to start quilting as a hobby. The desire lasted about a month. I never put a stitch in that quilt.

At the time, my grandmother was a part of a quilting bee at the Elwood Baptist Church. They were a group of women that gathered once or twice a week for the friendship as much as for the quilting. I'd known most of those women all my life, and was pleased when they agreed to finish the quilt for me. When it was completed, I gave the quilt to my daughter who could now say that her grandmother started it in 1929 and her great-grandmother finished it more than 60 years later. Now that's a story.

Sometimes writers put treasured items in their books. Like a seamstress's stitches hold a fabric together, those pieces can become threads running through a plot. That's what I did in MISTER AND ME. Without giving away too much, a quilt served an important purpose in that story.

Earlier this week, I was back at Elwood Baptist Church, this time to attend my grandmother's funeral. I saw some of those women who worked their stitches in Shannon's quilt. And when I entered the church's dining hall, I noticed a quilt stretched in a frame, awaiting their next get-together. I wondered if they realized they were making treasure.

Top Photo note:(The Elwood Baptist Church Quilting Bee, quilting my daughter's quilt. My grandmother sits at the north end of the quilt.)

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