The doll quilts that 88-yr-old Doris made.
I came relatively late to quilting, but I like to think that I may still be quilting myself at the age of 88 or 90. Unlike so many other quilters, I didn't have the quilting legacy passed down to me. There are no family quilts; I am the first to make them as far as I know. Years from now someone will find them in a trunk and wonder about the woman who made them.
My mother was never very "crafty" herself when I was young, but I remember feeling good when I made things out of paper, scissors, crayons, glue, string or yarn. My specialty was little books made with pictures I either drew myself or cut from magazines and read to my dolls. Funny, the paths we end up taking--50 years later I'm still cutting out inspiring pictures from magazines but I eventually got a little help with the books.
My mother always encouraged me and smiled proudly when I showed her my projects, giving me implicit permission to create. But I don't think she ever felt she had the time to do anything creative herself. Her spirit was focused more on cooking, housekeeping, and other endless chores. This was before Martha Stewart became a household word and we learned that yes, there could indeed be creativity in cooking and keeping a house. I know she sewed a little and when one of my sisters took up sewing, I learned too.
My four sisters were a bit older than me--the oldest being 15 when I was born (can you say accident?)--so I essentially grew up with 5 "mothers" to encourage and nurture me. I became an aunt at age 11.
This turned out better than it looks here--she ended up coming around and being my friend.
When I was 18 and on break from college one Christmas I went out and bought a Simplicity pattern and made doll clothes for her Barbie dolls, and remember knowing somehow that the sewing fed my soul after the stress of going through finals. I still make little doll dresses, just for fun.
I clearly recall that uplifting feeling I got from being creative and sometimes try to tell my 16-yr-old daughter to just make something, anything, when she's stressed or feeling down about herself, when her finals loom or college planning takes over her world, to help feed her soul.
In high school a friend taught me to knit and crochet and when I started going nuts making things my mom became so fascinated with my "granny square" vests, macrame belts and crocheted floppy hats (I grew up in the sixties, did you guess??) that she let me teach her to crochet. After raising a family of 5 girls for lo those many years she finally gave herself permission to be creative and I noticed a calmness in her personality. Soon she had made afghans for everyone in the family and had a lot of fun making numerous silly crocheted toys, ornaments, etc. Playing with yarn.
She never knew my kids or my dogs, but they definitely feel something comforting when they cuddle under those simple afghans she made, I can tell.
So I keep this silly hat around that I made when I was in college (yes, we really wore hats like this in the '60s, and no, I sure wasn't alone) to remind me of how I started on the path, how much I've always loved making things, even if they're silly, and Caitlin wears it sometimes. Maybe I'm hoping I can pass on the "creative hat" to her through osmosis? If nothing else, it sure looks cute on her.