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“It was not a woman’s desire to be forgotten. And in one simple, unpretentious way, she created a medium that would outlive even many of her husband’s houses, barns and fences; she signed her name in friendship onto cloth and, in her own way, cried out, REMEMBER ME!” – Linda Otto Lispett

Empty RoomThis bedroom is empty now, but through the winter of 1993 and the Spring of 1994, it was a gathering place for 3 generations of women. My brother was getting married that May, and we wanted to make a wedding quilt. We chose fabric in soft grey blues and began the long process of making a Celtic quilt. We sewed bias strips and appliqued them onto each square in different and intricate patterns of knots, before layering the fabric and batting, basting it together, and stretching it on the quilt frames that once belonged to my great-grandmother.

Whether alone, in pairs, or in groups, my grandmothers, my mom, my aunt & I carefully joined the layers together with tiny, even stitches. As we worked, we talked about family news and current events. From time to time, one of my grandmothers would reminisce about days on the farm – the time my grandmother defied her mother-in-law and advised her husband to use her money to buy a new tractor, or the “ultimatum” she gave my grandfather – marry her or she was going to take her savings and go to university. I wish I had thought at the time, to write these stories down…By mid-afternoon, we would congregate in the kitchen to share a pot of tea and nibble on cake or cookies.

My grandmother has produced many quilts over the years – all different patterns – Log Cabin, Dresden Plate, Jacob’s Ladder. She has made quilts with embroidered squares, like the flowers of each province. She made quilts for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and quilts for hospital bizarres. She quilted right up until this past Christmas, when she was admitted to hospital (at 98), then moved to a new nursing home.

The art of quilt-making is over 6,000 years old. It was once a skill passed down to each generation and I’m so excited to have learned that skill from the women in my family. As I trace the tiny stitches, I feel blessed to possess these legacies of needlework, and I feel a connection to the precious hands that crafted them.

Nana's Celtic Quilt (same pattern as the one we made for my brother)

From left to right: Dresden Plate, Celtic Quilt, Double Wedding Star (my wedding quilt)

From left to right: Dresden Plate, Celtic Quilt, Double Wedding Star (my wedding quilt)

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Tell us about a lost art or skill that you know, or that you think needs to be revived.

To view other thoughts on lost arts and skills, click here.

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