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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting Registered

Yesterday I took the quilt I made for my daughter to the Quebec Quilt Registry. My Daughter gave me a funny look and asked "why do you do that?" I was dumbfounded.

Years ago, no one even knew that a woman had lived unless she made and signed a quilt. In an age when women were not taught mathematics, they were creating these incredibly complex geometric patterns out of used clothing and scraps of fabric gleaned from various sources. Creating art.

I answered my Daughter that it was like getting a piece of art catalogued.

I know that I would love to be able to find out who made the one quilt I have left to me from my grandparents' house in the country. The house burned down years ago, and I just happened to have brought this lovely quilt home with me. Nobody in my family knows who made it, and it's not signed. I like it because it reminds me of the country house where I spent my summers when I was growing up. But if there had been a quilt registry, I might be able to find out who had made the quilt, and what the inspiration was.

I was informed that the Registry's information is kept in a database at Concordia University, and that there are actually students using some of the information for their theses!

The registration was an incredibly detailed experience. They measured how many stitches to the inch my hand-stitching was! Apparently I sew a respectable eight stitches to the inch! I didn't know that. They listed all the details I had forgotten about. Quarter-inch border stitching, row stitching... They measured the size of the blocks, listed each color.

I told the story of the quilt to at least three different groups of ladies. When my Daughter was born, I received a congratulatory card with a picture of this lovely giraffe nibbling at the leaves on a tree. I made a crayon enlargement of the card, framed it, and it hung on her wall as decoration for years. When she asked me to make her a quilt, I immediately thought of the giraffe. So I found a pattern called "Tree of Life" for the tree and machine appliquéd the giraffe on top. I hand-quilted the Tree - it, with the giraffe, became the central medallion of the quilt.

I had asked Daughter what colors she wanted, and she said pink and purple. So around the central medallion it is a dark pink, and row by row the colors get lighter till it's white, then purple begins to appear in light tones, and it finally ends in dark purple at the borders.

I call the quilt "Transitions" because of the color transitions in the quilt, and because both Daughter and I were going through major life changes while I was making the quilt.

But there is now a new meaning for the name Transitions for me. While the quilt was being photographed, one of the most famous of the ladies came and had a good long look at it. Adair Schattler is one of Canada's "Who's Who!" of quilters. She's won so many awards, I wouldn't know where to begin.

She pronounced my quilt "lovely."

I was on cloud nine! This would be the equivalent of Steven Spielberg telling you you're a good actor, or Margaret Atwood telling you you're a good writer! Adair Schattler told me my quilt was lovely, and therein lies my new interpretation of "Transitions:" I feel I have arrived as a quilter, transitioned from inept struggler to actual quilter now.

A kind word really does go a long way!