If you’ve been a guest at our house in the past months, you might have noticed a new addition to our home decor—this elaborate, extremely heavy, handmade quilt in our guest room. No, it’s not a faux antique we paid hundreds of dollars for at Anthropologie, it’s actually a bit of a family heirloom that my maternal grandmother maybe made for me?
You see, this past year, as we ventured out to move our lives cross-country to California, my mother made a much-appreciated trip north from her home in North Carolina to meet us along the way. She’d asked me beforehand if I’d have any interest in taking an old family quilt off her hands and, being a lover functional family keepsakes AND pre-Etsy hand-made stuff, I’d happily agreed.
After a lovely couple days of lunches and slightly embarrassing childhood stories, my mother suddenly remembered the quilt. Not really remembering what the thing looked like at all, I was expecting something pretty tame. But the thing she produced and handed over was much less a bedcover to keep warm in the night and much more a piece of hand-crafted art that even the most crafty of crafters would be lucky to call their own work. By my eye, that is. I don’t know the first thing about quilt-making, but I do know that this quilt is awesome-looking.
But rather than pass along some endearing, heart-warming tale about how each square represented a segment in time in the lives that led up to my own or how the images were linked to iconography in our family’s history or something like that, my mother unceremoniously told me, handing it over: “Your grandmother made this when you were born. So, I guess she wanted you to have it?”
…cool. I’ll take it!
She did mention that my grandmother had made it over the course of a long period of time leading up to my birth and that it was what was called a Cathedral style quilt, made using Cathedral Windows.
According to the all-knowing collective consciousness of Wikipedia:
“Cathedral Windows is a block type that uses reverse appliqué using large amounts of folded muslin, and features modular blocks of an interlocking circular design that frame small squares or diamonds of colorful light-weight cotton. The volume of fabric is high, and the tops are heavy. Because of the weight and the insulating value of the base fabric, these tops often are assembled without batting (thus need no quilting stitches) and sometimes have no backing. Such a quilt may be called a ‘counterpane’ and may serve mainly as a decorative ‘bedspread’.”
Wanting to show the thing off though, we skipped that decorative counterpane bit, making common use of it when guests visit in the colder nights that frequent us in all but the warmer months. I think my grandmother would approve.
She might not approve so much of the fact that our very elderly, slightly oozy cat with chronic ear problems, Allister, has adopted the quilt as his own, making a beeline for the guest room any time the guest bed’s made and the door opens.
But who are we to deny an old cat one of his few pleasures? That thing’s probably easy to clean, right?