A Stitch In Time

| 9/15/2017 12:00:00 AM

farm sign 

A lot of valuable techniques of living on a farm are being lost as the world progresses further and further into the electronic age. Take the art of quilting for instance. Once quilts were stitched entirely by hand and for the sole benefit of the family. Quilts meant warmth in the winter. They were made from any scraps of material available, from old clothing, curtains, flour sacks, even denim (though pants were usually patched repeatedly until they could be patched no more). There were no quilting frames, fancy patterns, downy ticking, or ruffled borders. Quilts were plain, simple, and made to last as long as possible. They were usually sewn by the light of a kerosene lamp after a long day of chores and caring for the family.

Latern light

One of my family heirlooms is a quilt made by my great-great-grandmother Elizabeth (one of the grandmothers I am named for). She's become the family legend with different generations endowing her with heroic, almost super-human qualities. In reality, she was simply a pioneer woman who joined a wagon train going west with her new husband, and after several fruitless years came home to Arkansas, being widowed on the way when my grandfather died of pneumonia. Elizabeth was a tough old bird who knew how to take care of herself. She never really knew how old she was, but legend also has it she was 106 when she died. She must have been close, because my father was around 12 when she passed. Of course, the family swears that my quilt was made on her trip west on the wagon train, but my Granny (her granddaughter) once told me it was probably made sometime in the late 1800s or very early 1900s. At any rate, the quilt is at least 100 years old. Elizabeth would be pleased to know it has lasted this long.

100 year old quilt

My great-grandmother Lucy Wade Nowlin married Elizabeth's son John Jr. and also made quilts for her family. The one I have was made in the early 1900s and has a stain I have never been able to get out. As you can see, the pattern has progressed to a more decorative and uniform pattern from earlier quilts. She made her own star pattern so none of the starts are perfect, which makes the quilt all the more special to me.

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