Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some Family Heirlooms

Our family is both German and Irish on both sides. My mother tended to celebrate her family's Irish heritage more than their German ancestry, but my father's side had no problem with it. There was a lot of good German canning and cooking going on with that bunch. Of course, all farm families canned to help "make do with what they had." But, I dunno if quilt making is as universal. Dad had a pretty decent collection of family heirloom quilts, and Sis is keeping them in good shape these days.

That is the my family's main quilt manufacturer. Not the baby - that's me - but rather the white haired lady pictured. That is my dad's Grandmother Minnie. This picture dates to 1960.

Grandma Minnie made this quilt for my Dad when he was a baby. It was "my" quilt as a kid as well. I loved the airplane design then as I do now. So, this quilt is at least seventy years old.

These two quilts are probably older. We've lost track of who they were made for specifically. Sis and I have the idea that these were made before the airplane quilt. The bottom one in particular shows some wear.

This quilt is a different design - notice the edge follows the shape of the cutouts. The bottom picture shows the detail. All of these quilts have some pretty fine needlework in them, but this one has just a bit more.

We think my dad's sister made this one. It's the biggest and newest specimen. It's probably twenty or thirty years old at least, and to my aunt's credit - the craftsmanship is just as good as Great Grandma Minnie's efforts.

The sheer amount of time that it took to make these quilts is stunning to us these days. The level of patience and determination required to crank these babies out is daunting as well. It's not like Great Grandma Minnie had nothing else to do, what with all the cleaning, canning, butchering, baking and just generally raising a family going on. Granted, she probably made these after she had raised the kids and sent them on their way, but still.

It's a shame I had to grow up a bit before I could see the level of commitment my predecessor had to raising and keeping the family well, and thank her for it. My memories of her are mostly rest home and hospital visits, when she wasn't at her best, and somewhat scary for a young boy. I remember her being frustrated because she couldn't talk properly and say what she wanted to say - there was a fine mind trapped in that aged body that really wanted to say things to me.

At any rate - if you can hear me now: Thanks, Grandma. I loved you, too.


Leah Friedman said...

Their beautiful! The love, time and craftsmanship that went into making them, awesome. How lucky you are to have them.

Mo K said...

Wonderful talent, to be able to quilt. Mom was into knitting and some embroidery, but never any quilting. Those are exquisite heirlooms.

We celebrated our Irish side vs. German, too, mostly. My dad's contribution to the German side when I was growing up was his impression of a German Shepherd: "You sheep vill eat zat graas! Schnell!!"

Earl said...

On the day bed are two quilts, one by my aunt the other by a Chinese village factory... I like my aunt's always, but then I know my aunt, 96 this Summer.

RT said...

Those quilts are really pretty. What amazes me about quilts, especially the older, family heirloom types, is that all of that beauty was usually the result of using fabric scraps. Quite a metaphor, huh?

I tried to learn to quilt a few years ago. I lacked patience. Maybe I'll try again one of these days.

Dr.John said...

Those are beautiful quilts. I remember the quilt my grandmother made of the ribbons my grandfather won at the fair. I wish I knew what happened to it.

Annabelle said...

Nice to have finally met you also Jeff. I really have enjoyed viewing your family's antique quilts. Preserving them with documentation is great. Good Job.