Bless my Grandmother Bryant and my Mother, they tried. Both were good cooks. good seamstresses, musicians….not a shred of any of those talents took hold in me. Despite my personal disinterest or plain old lack of talent, I remember my Grandmother’s quilting frame and watching her work with friends on quilts. I remember my mother gathering with neighbors for similar activities. I was like a fly on the wall. There I absorbed a lot of wisdom, information and let’s face it, gossip and misinformation, but I loved being there.
This morning as I walked my two dogs, the following “song” emerged. I use the word “song” loosely here, because I tried singing it to my ever patient husband and he tried his best not to cringe. Again, not a vocalist, cook, musician and cannot sew the hem on a handkerchief, which by the way, random thinker that I am,was my first 4H project oh so many years ago.
Anyway back to the present or maybe back to the past. Friendship quilts were special. I am fortunate to have one though tattered and aged with my Grandmother’s signature among others.
Friendship Quilts: A Way of Connecting for Women
Imagine living in a time when families were large and women worked hard all day. A woman had to finish necessary sewing to provide clothing for the family before she could bring out her quilting fabric. Much of what we buy without a thought today had to be produced at home. Social time with family and neighbors was a highlight in a woman’s life. What could be more fun than gathering together to quilt? The top would already have been pieced and the layers put together on a frame. Everything would be ready for the women to add their fine stitching.
The quilt might be a special one with signatures of friends and family. These friendship quilts served as a precious memory not only to women who stayed in one place all their life but also for those who moved on to hardships in westward lands. These pioneer women would only have occasional letters to connect them with friends and relatives. Many a lonely woman living out on an isolated homestead cherished her friendship quilt. It reminded her of the time when she lived among family and friends. In addition illness and war took dear ones away forever. Their name on a quilt became a precious remembrance.
Piece by piece they cut with care
Every piece on the table there
Piece by piece their stories shared
Piece by piece unburdened there
Piece by piece they sewed and shared
Stitching patterns in every square
Piece by piece, singing filled the air
Prayers lifted to the One who cares
Piece by piece their lives shared
With every stitch fashioned there
Piece by piece shared with care
Tears and giggles on every square
Beneath the table the children there
Learned that life is best when shared
Bits of life formed in every square
Stretched and framed by every prayer
One last touch they fashioned there
Each one’s name stitched on a square
Piece by piece their souls laid bare
Friendship forged, framed with prayer.