Monday, January 31, 2011

Finishing That Damn Quilt

Each night I have been putting the wooden hoop around three squares of my quilt, and stitching through the batting and the backing. Last night I felt like continuing on to do more squares, but made myself put the quilt away. Always leave myself wanting more, as the saying sort of goes.
It was one day last week that I looked at the quilt, folded up next to the easy chair in the living room, and thought I’d just take it to Aunt Shirley and ask her to finish it. She whizzes through quilts and has a frame set up in her living room. I wanted to complete it myself, as it is the one Mom helped me with, but it has sat untouched for more than five years already. I was ready to give it up and get it done. I could imagine Mom, ever practical, agreeing with me.
Then that night I finally got at it. I’ve been cursing a lot as I prick my index finger and struggle to get the needle threaded, even with the handydandy little needle-threader Joan gave me a few years ago. But already I can see my stitchery improving enough so that I can enjoy myself while doing it, and relax.
And want more.

*** For new readers: when Mom was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer in the spring of 2004, my sister Karen and I packed up our school-age kids and moved to Kelowna to be with her. After all, we might have as few as three more months with her, or up to a year if we were lucky, according to the doctors. More than anything Mom wanted her chicks back in the nest, and we wanted to be there to look after her and help Dad.
Once we found places to live and got our kids settled in their schools, Mom said to all three of us (Joan already lived in Kelowna), "One of you girls is going to be a quilter if it's the last thing I ever do." So she helped each of us cut out the fabric for a quilt of our choice, and helped us work on them. Mine is the one in the picture. It has appliquéd squares, which was the part I liked doing best; my preference is embroidery stitching so it was right up my alley. I don't like sewing machines much, but Mom supervised. She ripped out my bad seams, laughed with me at my frustrations with the whole sewing thing, and encouraged me to work at the sewing machine in her bedroom while she lay abed. "It relaxes me," she said. She also worked on the appliqués with me, and Joan and Karen picked up a little square once in a while too, to add a few stitches, and I think Aunt Reta also may have when she was there with us. Lots of beloved hands have touched this quilt.


  1. Kate, what a treasure!
    Before she died my grandmother gave me the quilt she made for Canada's centennial year, it is a prized possession. I feel close to her when I touch it and I hope that her Great Great Grandchildren will enjoy it as much as I do.

  2. Kate, how lucky to have this/part of more than one loved family member, and you.
    I thought your mother's determination to raise one
    quiltmaker was charming and stubborn. Did she?
    What about your sisters? Do you have pictures of theirs.
    I have NO NO NO talent at quilting, but I am
    a genius at appreciation of hanging quilts and thosqe I cuddle under at night. I look for them all the time. Preferably home made ones that some unfortunate circumstance has resulted in it being placed on the market.
    Thanks for sharing. claire

  3. What a lovely story. I've always wanted to learn how to quilt. Have very fond memories of old quilts when were we going up.

  4. I ached reading about your quilt-making time with your mother and sisters. We should all be so strong


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