One of the things that really resonates with me about quilting is the way I feel connected to a long tradition of women's craft and work with fabric. I'm not a super religious person, but I do like the poem written by King Solomon, called Aishet Chayil, traditionally recited by the husband to the wife on Friday night before shabbat dinner. You probably know of it - it begins "A woman of valour, who can find her? Her worth is far beyond rubies" and it goes on to set out the many characteristics of a virtuous woman. So many of them have to do with making and sewing cloth; here are some examples:
She fears not for her household because of snow, because her whole household is warmly dressed.
She makes covers for herself, her cloth is fine linen and purple.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with her hands willingly.
In the spirit of Aishet Chayil, I thought I'd share a couple of quilts made by my great-aunt, Matilda (Tildy) Galbraith. My grandmother was raised by her sister, Tildy, when their mother died in 1921. My grandmother was six, Tildy was 22, already married with two daughters. Aunt Tildy's husband, Tom, ran the company store in Closplint, a little coal mining town in Harlan Co., Kentucky. Here is a quilt that Aunt Tildy made in the 30s. It is hand-pieced and hand-quilted. I bet it aggravated her no end when she realized she didn't have enough light blue fabric to complete the sashing.
I feel so lucky to have this quilt. We used it up until about two years ago, when it was retired. Aunt Tildy was a prodigious quilter and seamstress. She taught my grandmother to sew, and my grandmother taught my mother, who taught me. She also froze fresh peaches in season, and served them throughout the year with angel food cake.
Don't you love the vintage fabric in the blocks? I only put a couple of pictures of blocks here. If you want to see more of them, click through to my Flickr page.
Aunt Tildy quilted all her life; she passed away in 1985. Here is a quilt that she made near the end of her life. The blocks are much bigger, and the quilt is pieced and quilted by machine.
The seams are not terribly straight. But the quilt is big! It is meant to be used, for two people to sleep under, and it is on our bed now. Aunt Tildy was still making sure we had everything we needed at the end. Thanks for everything, Aunt Tildy. Many women have done worthily, but you surpass them all. Proverbs, 31:10-13.