Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Touch (the sense of touch) (08/05/10)
TITLE: The Feely Quilt
By Karen Laskowsky
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“Of Course, Honey. You wait here and I’ll get it for you.”
This scene played itself out on many winter afternoons at Grandma’s house. She had a beautiful crazy quilt that her grandmother had made, but rather than keep it put up and away where little hands couldn’t reach, she’d let me snuggle up in it for a nap on her couch whenever I visited. It was never “too good” for little girls to sleep under.
Besides being a feast for the eyes, Grandma’s feely quilt was just that: full of tactile delights for my small hands. There were multi shaped patches made of soft velvet in bright hues. Then the paper thin silks in lighter colors next to the velvets were connected by beautiful embroidered stitches that made a lovely contrast to the colors of the fabric.
I’d run my fingers lightly down the seams and feel the stitches that made the quilt beautiful. I’d pretend that I was blind; that I could not see the colors, but the stitches could tell my fingers what the colors were.
There was a small embroidered wooded scene on one of the velvet patches. The satin stitched pine trees made me think, “This is what green feels like.”
Another tree in that glade had a trunk of uneven gray and brown stitches and I thought, “This is what brown-gray feels like - not quite as rough as the bark of a real tree.” There was a knothole in the stitchwork in that tree. I followed the black stitches in a circular pattern, distinct from the uneven stitches that made up the bark.
Some of the feather stitches along the seams were done with slick, shiny thread. I practiced counting each stitch up to twenty and then I had to start over again as my small fingers ticked off each one.
There was a patch that didn’t seem to fit with the others because the fabric was so rough compared to the other pieces. Grandma told me it had come from a scrap of drapery material from the parlor of her Grandma’s house. There were little bumps in the fabric that felt like knots, but they were part of the warp and weave, and they belonged there.
There were some flowers, white edelweiss, embroidered in crewel wool yarn on this piece. The centers were dotted with yellow wool French knots. She told me they were edelweiss when I asked her what kind of flowers they were. They were a kind you could only find in the Alps. I have since seen real edelweiss and then I realized just how well the crewel work captured those fuzzy Alpine flowers.
There were also flowers made from silk ribbon, stitched with different widths of ribbon to make blossoms, stems and leaves. I could trace each flower and stem and leaf made of those wonderful silk colors, and I could tell sometimes what kinds of flowers they were. I could feel the petals of a daisy, the smooth silk against the brush cut of the soft velvet background.
Somewhere on the quilt, as on every true crazy quilt, is a spider web with a spider in it for good luck. This quilt was no different. A small orb web was sewn on one of the odd shaped patches, and a spider dangled from the web with a single chain stitched strand into the next block. The spider was made of a pair of smooth pearls, one small pearl for the head, and one larger pearl for the body. Eight legs were stitched from the larger of the pearls. I don’t like spiders, but I never minded this one.
After awhile, I'd become drowsy and I would twiddle on a satin patch that had no embroidery on it until I fell asleep. Naptime was always cozy snuggled in with the feely quilt at Grandma’s.
And when I woke up, Grandma would fold it all back up and put it away until the next winter afternoon visit.
Looking back now, it occurs to me that the only time I ever looked forward to naptime was at Grandma’s.
I don’t know what became of the feely quilt. I think it may have been passed along to an aunt. But I have decided that I will have my own feely quilt for my grandchildren to curl up in on cold winter afternoons.
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