When I heard Paula McKinley was giving a trunk show today at the Utah Valley Quilt Guild, I made sure I was there. Paula and I are like-minded quilters and soulmates. We also share a love for family history–she was one of my favorite students. Today my heart and soul were filled–by her words, and by her beautiful quilts.
Paula themed her presentation “Stolen Moments.” She explained to us how her quilting is done during the bits and pieces of time in her life–while sitting in a car or attending a sporting event with family, while watching a movie. I am the same. Quilting surrounds everything else I do, it fills in the cracks and whole quilts are made while I’m waiting for or doing something else. It’s like magic.
Throughout her presentation, Paula read several quotes and thoughts that have inspired her.
And thou shalt make a hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needle work.
She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
Curly locks, Curly locks,
wilt thou be mine?
You need not wash the dishes,
Nor yet feed the swine.
But sit upon a cushion
And sew a fine seam,
And feed upon strawberries,
Sugar and cream.
We quilt for so many reasons–to escape the stresses of life, to create something beautiful to cherish, or to make a gift for future generations. Yet for me the greatest joy comes from those quiet moments every quilter knows. This is the time that is my own when I can realize, reflect and gently sew my memories into cloth.
Paula talked to us about 4 blessings she receives from quilting. The first is a power that is practical, restorative and meditative. When we quilt, we are creating something that will outlast us. Quilting makes something beautiful from scraps and bits and pieces, and as we stitch, we are able to ease tension, meditate, and reflect on the world around us and our families.
Second, we use our hands. Paula quoted Peter Nitze, an aerospace company leader, who said, “As human beings, our hands are a great strength, however in our modern society they are needed less and less. Handwork allows us to experience what our hands can do and how capable we can be.”
For many, our mobile devices have replaced hand work. Just look around when you’re in a line or in a doctor’s office, or just about anywhere–everyone is holding and looking at a phone. Fewer hands are creating in today’s world.
Quilter, Mark Lepinski, has started a movement called “Slow Stitching,” as he encourages quilters to slow down and cherish the process. Sewing is more than mending, it’s a creative Process that can fill our souls.
The 3rd blessing Paula enjoys from quilting is having the companionship of other quilters and her daughters, who also love to quilt. We often quilt in groups, with friends. We process life as we sit and stitch. We encourage and cheer each other on. Only good comes from being part of a quilt group.
And 4th, we have something to show for our work. Our time is not frittered away into nothing. We are creating something that will last though the generations of our families, something tangible that our children and grandchildren can wrap up in to feel our love.
It is a token of health and gently characteristics when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never at home with their own hearts than while so occupied.
From an Ohio great-grandmother reminiscing to Margerite Idis:
It took me more than 20 years, nearly 25, I reckon, in the evening after supper when the children were all put to bed. My whole life is in that quilt. It scares me sometimes when I look at it. All my joys and all my sorrows into those little pieces. When I was proud of the boys and when I was downright provoked and angry with them, and with John, too. He was stitched into that quilt, and all the 30 years we were married. Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I sat there hating him as I pieced the patches together. So they are all in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me.
As she wrapped up her trunk show, Paula said, “now I’m going to read the words of one of our own quilters, Ann Lewis.” She looked at me and smiled, then read something I’d written 22 years ago for our Utah Valley Quilt Guild Patchwords newsletter:
I was moved by Paula’s words and quilts today. I sometimes feel like I’m the only one doing what I do, loving what I love, binding myself to my ancestors and to my descendants with the work of my hands. Today I felt love in every direction.