I love the above painting found online by Morgan Weistling. It's appropriately called the quilting bee. See the little boy under the quilt frame. That's where I learned to quilt. I was playing under my grandmother's frame as far back as I can remember. When my mother married my father her gift from her father was her own quilt frame. My grandparents lived way out in the woods so my grandmother was, like myself, a solitary quilter. Most of her quilts were done by her alone sitting in her parlor as she called it. My mother in law was also an avid quilter . When I moved to Missouri the first place she invited me was the weekly church quilting bee at The Methodist Church. The church ladies hand quilted for people and the money raised was used for different projects within the church and charities. Every Wednesday I would load up Baby O, then a toddler of two, and we would go quilt. Of the dozen or so ladies that quilted I was the baby. The only one not on social security yet. My first day there I was adopted so to speak by a 90 year old named Clara, the oldest in the group. Clara immediately snagged me to sit by her and announced that we were "shirt tail cousins". Seems she and my husband's deceased father were cousins. Their grandmother's were sister's. So since she was a cousin to my husband that made me a shirt tail cousin. Now the real reason that Clara snagged me I think was that I could still see to thread her needles for her. O the things those little gray haired ladies taught me. The evils of whiskey, the fine art of raising children, we mourned the deaths within the community and made baby blankets for the new babies. We swapped recipes and touched each other's lives in ways that can never be explained. The old teaching the young. Baby O at 3 sitting under that quilt frame on a couple of giant hymnals in that little church that her great grandparents had helped found quilting uneven stitches with her pudgy little baby fingers to the delight of every lady there. Another quilter was born. Another generation to carry on the age old skill so lovingly passed to them.
Well Clara lived to be 100. And we remained shirt tailed cousins to the end. She ran her own quilt shop until she was 95. Most of those ladies are gone now. The group no longer meets. Baby O has hung up her quilting needles....for now. After all at 16 the world is a giant adventure and who has time to quilt. I like to think Clara is up there somewhere, sitting under a giant quilt frame in the sky. I just wonder who she has snagged to thread her needles now?
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter