When I was a child, my maternal Grandmother taught me how to embroider. She, like many women of her time, made quilts, clothing, and aprons. Her work was pretty primitive and yet memorable. All of her Grandchildren and those Great-Grandchildren who were born while she was alive received quits for weddings, and baby showers. I got her last quilt and when my Niece visited, she saw it on my bed and cried because it was made of the same material of her baby quilt which she had loved to shreds. She took it home and loved it to shreds.
I used my Gramma Elizabeth's pattern for embroidering the 50 State birds and flowers and stayed within primitive lines for it. This is the last photo taken of her in her home when she was 92. I think of her every day for her quilting traditions.
From Elizabeth, I learned about contribution, responsibility and intimacy. She set the standard of how to give love & support, how to be love, find my own image & deeper self, and how to maintain family connections through this art.
The next great quilting influence of my life helped me create a small block that was to be part of a greater wall hanging for my circle in the midwest. I lived on Lee's property in Bear Valley Springs above Tehachapi overlooking five mountain ranges for five months one winter before my house was ready in the valley below. She gave me a lot of quilting magazines that winter and let me help myself to what I needed from her fabric stash. Lee was one of the founders of the Tehachapi Mountain Quilter's Guild and by the time this photo was taken, she was in her late 80's and was still quilting. When she passed, Lee left me all her quilting magazines and fabric stash to further my own work.
Lee taught me balance and composing the inner and the outer life one has as a Quilter. I am still learning how to trust, how to be open and transparent to my own joys, questions and struggles as a human being who seeks her own unique expressions in this art.
And of course, there is always a great teacher or two in everyone's life. She is the one who challenges my courage to confront, explore and resolve the difficulties of trusting someone else, of embracing weaknesses, blind spots, resistance to full expression and letting go defenses.
Claudia owns one of the fabric stores in town. She opened her heart to me when I brought in the two sets of 50 State Birds/Flowers blocks & helped me figure out how to use them & make seven lap size quilts for my Grandchildren.
Women in the shop shared my delight in creating the first top. I was sobbing with joy for how wonderful it looked. All the nights I spent for decades in embroidering these blocks were not in vain! I was carrying forward something I had learned beside my Grandmother.
By then, I could see how the final quilting made it all and I stepped back and realized I needed to learn more, to practice more.
I had penetrated the future by reaching into my past, by walking this path of lights and darks, my journey took me into places of moral and spiritual development: Women holding hands, looking over each other's shoulders and laps to encourage the work.
I give thanks this morning to them all, to these three as well as the countless others who quilt, who receive my mini quilts and the lap tops I make.
I celebrate our past, our present moments and the future. I feel strengthened and encouraged, as well as fiercely passionate about learning more. My every day be filled with thanksgiving for the unseen heras and heroes in our lives.