Sunday, December 7, 2014

Nana’s Quilt - My most treasured quilt


My most treasured quilt, well really my most treasured possession.  This quilt in all its perfect imperfection is near and dear to my heart.  My grandmother quilted it for me in her 80’s.  Her mother (my great grandmother) pieced the top all by hand.  It was pieced with turkey red and a basic muslin a long time ago, most likely in the early 1900’s.

My grandmother taught me to sew among many other of my favorite things.  When she was older we even took quilting classes together at the old Knoxville high school.  She wanted to learn new ways to quilt using rotary cutters and other short cuts.  It re-ignited her quilting spark.  She took back up her quilting and pieced many new tops and hand quilted a few. 

She made several quilts for many family members but never one for me.  I would hint that I wanted one but she didn’t catch on.  One day I just flat out asked her why she didn’t make me one and she said “well because you know how to make them yourself so you don’t need me to” and I could see that made perfect sense to her.  So I explained that our quilting was our special bond and that a quilt from her would be treasured by me because it came from her hands. It didn’t matter that I could make one for myself, that wasn’t the point.

One day we were looking thru a box of her pieced tops (she had quite a collection) and she pulled out this old red and white one that wasn’t perfect like all her others.  I asked her if she made it and she told me that her mother had pieced it by hand.  She showed me the neat little stitches in thick white thread.  I fell in love with that top.  I told her that was the one I wanted if she ever quilted one for me because it would be with three generations of quilters. (technically 4 but it skipped the 3rd) The love of quilting was passed from her mother to her and from her to me.

Well, she must have understood because in her 80’s she hand quilted it for me.  I think it was going to be a surprise because I didn’t know she was working on it for a long time.  Her arthritis in her hands got so bad she couldn’t finish it completely but it is at least 95% done.  I can see where the later parts were finished because the stitches were getting bigger over time.  There are pencil marks and basting thread still in it.  I think I will leave them.

It still had her hoop and needle with thread in it when she passed away (3 years ago today Dec 7, 2011) . For the longest time I couldn’t bear the thought of removing the hoop and needle.   I finally removed the hoop so I can bind it. She wanted me to use the quilt so I will finish it.  I guess it was meant to be that all three of us have a hand in it.  I am most likely the last generation to quilt so it is fitting that I finish it. I will bind it all by hand. 

At first I would just hold the quilt and smell it, the smells of my grandmother.  I would just breath her in and cry.  Now the smell has gone and I imagined that I transferred it all from her to me.  Now I cry because I can no longer smell her. 


Hand pieced by Great grandmother Palmer. See the old thick white thread.


Quilted by Nana, her stitches much larger than they once were but that just makes it extra special. 


A turned small corner she couldn’t finish, see how densely quilted on the back of the quilt. 

nanas needle 1

Here’s Nana’s needle that was still in the quilt.  I think I’ll use it to sew on the binding.


I miss you Nana

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