The longer I am away from home, the more I must process coming to terms with my own identity. I'm not talking about living the next state over from the people and places that I know and love, but a whole continent away! Somehow no matter where I am, there is always something small that is missing from each place. Usually I can go about a year before I start feeling a little out of balance, and experience a deep yearning to be in that familiar place again, with familiar people, and even a familiar language.... for me that place is West Virginia.
When I was growing up, I viewed my home state much differently than I do now, and I think living away from that place you call home can make you realize things that you never recognized before. While West Virginia is not exactly a "hot spot" destination for most travelers coming to the US, there is something rich and pure about the not so populated, "country roads" state. I've come to appreciate the deep cultural roots that makes the mountainess state, and the people, what they are.
While quilting plays a big role in the West Virginia's history, unfortunately that heritage was not passed down in my family like I read other generational quilters tell of. My grandmother did give us quilts from other quilters, and I remember being wrapped up in them studying each little print, picking out my favorite ones. Truly at a young age I appreciated each tiny snippit that made a quilt.
As I walked through the doors to the show, I felt my heart stir a bit, knowing full well that the tradition of quilting in West Virginia is older than me or anyone that I know. Sewing and quilting has been just as much a part of the culture as the mountains, and I can't help thinking that me stepping into that tradition is somehow about coming full circle.
I was particularly fascinated by the traveling quilt "The First Four Hundred" by Jane M. Crutchfield, which was also hand quilted. "Each block has an element from the cover of each of the first four hundred issues of Quilter’s Newsletter (Sept 1969-Mar 2008). The first blocks are black and white because that is how the magazine was published initially. The blocks then go to monochromatic for several issues, then to full color in July 1976 with the Bicentennial Star block."
Do you have any quilting traditions? Are you from generations of quilters or did you discover the art in some other way?
All quilts shown are from the 2015 West Virginia Quilt Festival exhibit.