Being wowed by quilt stories
Quilting is a whole world unto itself. One gets a good glimpse of it by touring Amherst churches during our impressive Fibre Arts Festival the week after Thanksgiving.
So to be wowed by a quilt story is special - and I was wowed by the quilt hanging on the wall of the Della Greeno Friendship Room at the Lorneville United Church.
In the 1930s Bessie Jackson from Lorneville moved to Boston where she married. As a wedding gift, 21 Lorneville women each prepared a square for her with the maker’s first name embroidered in the middle. Because the recipient had seven children, she never made the imagined quilt. The 21 squares passed to her sister, Kathleen O’Grady in Guysborough and, on her death, to her daughter, Hope Wright. Hope brought them, almost 80 years later, home to Lorneville to Arleen Goodwin (one of whose beautiful hand-quilted bedspreads is in our possession).
When Arleen took the squares to the ladies of the United Church, they recognized the names of their grandmothers, even a great-grandmother. They sewed the pieces together and hand-quilted it and won first prize in the 2012 Cumberland County Exhibition. Accompanying the quilt is a large frame which holds the pictures of each of the 21 women, all named, the recipient, her sister and the story.
I have now learned that this story was in a newspaper some years ago - but it warrants repeating.
In 1979 when I was packing to return to Cassiar, northern British Columbia, to work as the school librarian, the one thing I chose to remind me of home was the quilt made for me in 1959. Each of seven points of the Texas Star (name learned at the Quilt Show in the 2018 Oxford Blueberry Festival) was pieced and hand sewn by a special person: my mother, aunt Ruby Atherton, aunt Dot Ratchford, aunt Kit Stuart, aunt Helen Christie, and cousins Jean MacCready and Marion Dyer. My mother insisted that I sew the eighth point so that I would appreciate the effort involved in this project. This fragile quilt is on the guest room bed at my farmhouse at Amherst Shore - but it is removed to safety if a guest occupies the room.
I grew up with two crazy quilts made by my mother’s mother. Over time, these quilts became unusable. To replace them, my mother enlisted the help of Mrs. Wigmore, her sister’s motherin-law from PEI, who looked for handwork projects to occupy her time while visiting her son in Saskatchewan. My mother provided some pieces of cloth that I still recognize and when my Wigmore cousins visit, they enjoy identifying pieces from clothing they remember.
At one point I asked people close to me to embroider their names on fabric pieces from which I intended to make a jacket. That project was never realized, but the pieces I received were incorporated into the Wigmore quilts when they needed repair. That repair job was probably one of Gertie Hollis’ last projects.
A favourite quilt display for many of us is the annual Quilt Fair at the Port Elgin High School at the beginning of the summer. Hundreds of quilts can be seen with a range of prices for purchase.
Peggy Stevens - of Peg’s Pieces at the Pugwash Farmers’ Market on Saturdays until October - spent a lot of time as a child under quilts spread over four chairs as her mother, Lois Brooks of Amherst Head, was part of a quilters’ group. She now pieces both quilts and bags for sale.
Quilts from this part of the world are the equal of quilts made anywhere. The stories are endless and some of the quilts are priceless.
To buy my publications, including my new THE CHRISTIE BOOK, a genealogy, and my almost new Read More About Amherst, a collection of my last 40 columns to 2017, go to the Amherst Artisan Gallery, Amherst Centre Mall and to Maritime Mosaic, Dayle’s, Victoria Street, Amherst.
Coles carries My Dear Alice. For my six earlier self-published books and booklets, go to the Cumberland County Museum and Archives; the YMCA Amherst; Flying Colours, Maccan; and Main and Station, Parrsboro.