I was raised by women who took great pride in their domestic prowess. My mother could put together a spread of enough homemade food to feed an army in less than an hour and all of it would look, taste, and smell delicious. My grandmother could crochet beautiful and complicated afghans while carrying on lengthy conversations and loose her stitch count. And my great grandmother, she was a quilter. Her name was Elizabeth and even though she is my namesake I have spent most of my life content with the understanding that I would never have anything in common with the hard working, child rearing, quilt making farmer’s wife I had heard so many stories about.
Now, it wasn’t for lack of trying that I started off down a different path. Both my mother and grandmother tried to pass along their crocheting, cooking, baking, child raising, quilt tying, homemaking heritage but I wanted no part of it. At all. I was a girl who was going places and even if I wasn’t always sure where those places were I was certain they wouldn’t involve my participation in anything domestic.
In fact, in 8th grade after being less than amused by my antics (like putting lemon dish soap in another student’s cookie dough) I was kicked out of my home ec class! Hooray! The final straw fell when I switched the foot pedal cords to different sewing machines. (You know, so when you pressed down on your pedal to sew it was your neighbor’s machine that started stitching instead of yours.) I thought it was hilarious but my teacher didn’t agree which meant I was finally out and thrilled to be free!
Time passed but my distaste for homemaking remained the same. I graduated from high school and went off to college where I earned my degree in art. I then set about to teach a new generation of girls to be creative free spirits.
During this time I got married at which point my mom thought I would settle down and gave me a brand new sewing machine for Christmas. It made me cry. Why would my mom think I would like a sewing machine? How could she still not know me? It was a relic of 1950’s domesticity and nothing I would ever use. It went to my home and was promptly put, unopened in the basement where it would remain for some years waiting until the day Elizabeth needed to borrow a sewing machine.
My first teaching job was at a lock down school for “troubled teens”. That job was PERFECT for me. The teens were crazy…I was crazy…it was a match made in heaven and I loved every minute of it. But again time passed and after 7 years of marriage I discovered I was unexpectedly expecting.
I continued to go about business as usual…I was even in the middle of teaching school when my water broke! But then…Simon was born and the moment that tiny spirit was slipped into my arms 100 years of history fell away and suddenly I understood the woman I was named after. I understood her motives, her desires, her heart, and what’s more….I wanted to be like her.
Two years later I found myself leaving the teaching profession to be a “full time mom” to the shock and amazement of my friends and family. It was at this time that my mom and grandma saw their chance and dragged me to a quilt block construction class. By this point I was sold on cooking, cleaning, baking, and decorating….but quilting? Even I had limits.
Still….the class was being taught across the parking lot from a Sonic so I knew that even if the night was a bust I could get myself a tasty beverage on the way home. So, I went and that night changed everything.
I absolutely fell in love with the fabric…the endless possibility of color, pattern, and texture combinations…it spoke to my art loving my heart and I was hooked. I wanted every quilt block known to mankind!!!
Time passed…and soon I found myself again expecting…this time a baby girl. My Grace. Oh how I love this girl.
And now it wasn’t just quilt that needed to be sewn but clothes…dresses and skirts to be exact…ALL the dresses and skirts.
Making clothes for her has been a pure joy. As it has been for my next child who followed…Baby Ruth.
And time has continued to pass. The past decade of sewing and quilting has been an excellent adventure. Together with Elizabeth we’ve started a blog, designed fabric, written a book, released patterns, filmed television shows, and have been able to work with baby lock…a company we truly love.
But what will happen in the future? Will I keep sewing and quilting or will I resort back to my former anit-domestic ways? Welllll…if I were a betting woman I’d bet that my quilting and sewing days are here to stay.
Because time passes.
And while this last decade has been the host to some of my greatest triumphs it has also been the backdrop to some of my deepest sorrows. However, through it all I have been able to wrap myself, and my family, up tight in quilts skillfully made by the woman who have loved me most. So in moments when they haven’t been able to be there I can still feel of their love and remember happy times…times when those quilts traveled with us on vacations, were used as forts, and taken to stadiums…and those memories provide comfort indeed.
Today I am on the verge of turning 40. I can still best my kids at races and board games. Our evenings are loud and crazy but always end with bedside prayers, hugs, and tucking tiny people into bed. But time passes and as much as I’d like this time to last forever it won’t. So I will continue to quilt and one day when my children need comfort and I can’t be there they will have all my love in the form of a quilt to wrap themselves up in.
Because like I said…time passes…