Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 201 - The Quilting Bee and the Loom

There are a couple of things that I remember about my Mom's mother's house when I was little.  Of course you've already read about the Easter Bunny but there are a couple other things.  Like when it rained the raindrops made a louder sound than most houses because it had a tin roof.  And the front porch that had a view of the street and the bank of the stream that ran across from it.  But the most intriguing thing for us as children was upstairs in the loft of the attic.  Something I've never seen before or since. 

It was huge, not just because I was a child but it took up the entire attic.  Huge.  The closest thing I can describe to you is when you make potholders for the first time with your hands and rolled pieces of fabric.  The art of taking two perpendicular rows and weaving them in and out and then weaving the ends.  A loom is defined as a frame or machine for interlacing at right angles two or more sets of threads or yarns to form a cloth. Grandma would usually "catch" us up there and shoo us out.

We would beg her to sit on it and move the peddles so that we could see how it worked.  The closest thing to that loom that I knew was an organ as it had similar peddles.  So we would sit on the bench and move the peddles just fascinated to see how each of the strings moved.  She knew how to work it and we watched her weave.  I don't think she ever made anything herself with it as it made rugs and large blankets but it was fun to imagine her doing so.  I think in the cobwebs in my mind she had once had a bunch of ladies over to work on it together.

My mom loves quilt and last year I bought her an authentic Amish quilt that wasn't cheap.  I told her it was a years worth of presents.  Birthday, Mother's Day, and Christmas all combined.  And although I probably could have spent my money in another manner, there was something about that quilt that said, "I am made just for your mother." and it was the right thing to do.  It had the colors pink and green together - a rare combination unless you have a floral print, which it didn't.  And the star pattern was spectacular.  I imagined many Amish women getting together and talking about family, cooking and life.  That was the purpose of Quilting Bees back in the day.  An opportunity for women to gather, make something productive and form relationships that were as tightly woven as the threat and fabric they weaved with their hands.

When I had traveled to Gettysburg, I bought a quilting kit. So yesterday I set out as my goal to finish the 9 square pattern BY HAND.  I haven't sewed like that since I was nine or so.  But I was determined.  Although the kit didn't have enough thread, I busted out my mother's sewing kit and used some of the thread she had given to me years ago to finish it.  As I was sitting in silence, pulling the thread through the fabric, I thought about the time my mother tells me that my father told her that he couldn't study for his college classes because she was making too much noise.  She decided to just sit and sew as she was six months pregnant with me.  The sound of the thread being pulled through the fabric was so irritating to him, he beat her up and threw her down the stairs.  I'm lucky to be alive without any birth defects and to this day my mother cannot read with any sound. No music, no TV, no talking, only silence.  The effects of that time were profound on her.  Imagine the quiet sound of thread being pulled through a fabric. Is that any reason to try to beat the pulp out of your pregnant wife?  Pretty repugnant if you ask me.  The complete paradox of the family, instead of being woven tightly by the veins of blood, only held together by a single thread.  Physical abuse is not the right thing to do EVER by any man or woman on any man or woman. The long term affects are just knots that can never be untied even by papers of divorce.

The sewing machine joins what the scissors have cut asunder, plus whatever else comes in its path.  ~Mason Cooley

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