Thursday, October 29, 2009

...Until You Know Where You've Been


Several years ago at Christmas my mother was so proud of herself. For once she'd picked out an excellent gift for both my brother and me:  our own copies of the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, the standard red-and-white gingham tome that was our culinary bible as children. My brother and I were thrilled! My mother doubted she could duplicate her success.

A few years later, we found ourselves home for the holidays once again. I don't remember how it came about, but the cedar chest was opened and quilts and afghans came out. The bright yellow and blue crocheted blanket my grandmother created was followed by scratchy coverlets from Christmases past. And then my mother brought out two hand-pieced quilts. One was made of tiny squares in a cacophony of colors, one was of hexagons and triangles in faded turquoise and purple. My brother fell in love with the squares. The colors of the later spoke to my heart. My mother had done it again. Squares to California, turquoise to me! What treasured gifts unexpectedly given.

My aunt knew where the quilts' history. They were made by my great-grandmother, Lilian Catherine. Lilian was half Cherokee and lived in the hills and hollers of the southern Appalachians. Her gentle stitches that grace my bed have traced a path down generations to work their way straight through my fingertips. 

This blog is in Lilian's honor and in honor of the beautiful Southern women of my family who have chosen to create by hand the pieces that shape my memories and so many others'. I hope to chronicle my own hand-sewn work as well as celebrate my mother's, grandmother's and great-grandmother's. In so doing may I weave a tapestry that both reflects my heritage and preserves a slice of sweet Southern legacy ere it pass into legend. Take your shoes off, prop your feet up and let your heart unwind for awhile. Stay around a bit--the weather's fine.


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