Friday, July 16, 2010

Creative Cover-up

Saying, "My wife quilts," is a bit like proclaiming Minnesotans fish or Baryshnikov dances, without saying anything about the passion for the activity. Nancy's passion for quilting probably rivals the passion of any person for pastimes or art.

The quilt rack in the picture on the left contains only 9 of her many quilts.
About 40 or more decorate our sofas, beds, walls and a couple other quilt racks. Several more are under construction, and I'm afraid to guess how many are in the mental planning stages.

I don't quilt, but I like being under them. Like many people my age, as a child I slept in an unheated upstairs bedroom. I'm not complaining! I loved the brisk air and the chance to snuggle under the big patchwork feather quilt, which was nothing fancy. I thought the quilt beautiful. Even as a kid I understood that quilt squares didn't have to adhere to the same color wheel as school clothes. Striking mismatches in color and pattern look great on a quilt!

Like many farm women, my mother, Helen (Cervenka) Fredrickson, quilted too, but she didn't always get to finish what she started. You know, farm work and meals came first during the day, and in the evening after milking she packed eggs, ironed clothes, baked, or did the family's sewing. She loved to work.

Nancy and I sit by the kitchen table, visiting with Dad and Mom. They are in their late sixties.
Nancy explains that she needs more quilt squares to begin to assemble the Relative Quilt.
"The idea is simple enough: I've mailed a square of cloth to each of the relatives and each person uses the cloth or some other piece of material to create a square. They mail it back to me and I put them together as a quilt. The trouble is that I need to get a few more back before I begin to lay out the quilt."

I'm thinking that people are busy and lots of them won't ever finish the squares, but I follow Dad's lead and say nothing. He knows there's a time to listen and also a  time to shut up and listen.

No one says anything for a short time. Then Mom says, "Would you like a quilt square that my mother made?"

I can tell this is a big deal to Nancy as she slowly exclaims, "You have a quilt square from your mother!"

"I have enough squares for a whole quilt," says Mom. "My mother gave them to me. She always said a mother should make a quilt for her daughter when she gets married. Since I was the youngest child, though, my mother was old when I got married and her fingers were no longer able to quilt. So she just gave me the squares. I was always going to put them together, but I never had time. Now I have time but my eyes are poor. So do you want one?"

Nancy hesitates. "What are you planning for the other squares?"

Mom says, "I don't know. Throw them away, maybe."

At this, Nancy and I look at each other in shock.

"Then I would gladly take them all, if you don't mind, " Nancy says.

At this, Mom smiles.

A few years later, after Mom and Dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary, Nancy gives the completed quilt to Mom.

After a few tears and many "thank yous" and a few hugs, Mom gives the quilt back to Nancy to keep.
The quilt hangs now on our library wall.

The dedication on the quilt reads as follows:

Helen Cervenka Fredrickson's Quilt

Squares Made By Mary Cervenka 1938

Quilted By Nancy Fredrickson 1988

This picture displays the design.

A quilt is craft, folk art, and fine art;
a quilt is culture, custom, and love;
a quilt is frivolous, practical, sentimental, and real;
a quilt is fun, serious, and can reach out across borders;
a quilt is color, pattern, and style;
a quilt is bright, soft, and wonderful.
A quilt is like its maker.

When we travel, Nancy always looks for a quilt store with fabrics that reflect the locale. I, too, have come to enjoy the quilt store hunt as part of our travel adventure..
By the way, many relatives completed quilt squares and the Relative Quilt turned out really great, but that's material for another blog, and, yes, that pun was intended.

Photographs  by Nancy A Fredrickson

1 comment:

  1. Now you've gone and done it--made me laugh ("He knows there's a time to listen and also a time to shut up and listen.")and cry (the joy of your mom getting that quilt). This was simply a wonderful post, Gordon. This reminded me of my grandma, who was an avid quilter.

    Please tell Nancy that her quilts are stunning!