Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WV Quilt Festival Part I


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.



I love traditions and especially making them. In Germany so far we have a standing annual event for Thanksgiving, Spargelzeit (aspargus time), and new Christmas traditions as a family. For the last several years, when I have traveled home to visit my family, I have attended the local quilt show with my one and only aunt who does quilt. We marvel at the skills, designs, and quilting of each one, and know first hand the time that it takes to make each one.... it's almost become our annual tradition.



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."

As I had expected, most of the quilts on exhibit were more traditional in fabric choices and designs, but there were a few modern quilters also exhibiting at the show. Even though my style leans more towards the modern end of the spectrum, I can very much appreciate quilts that carry the art through the generations.



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.

3 comments:

  1. Love the quilts you have posted. I agree with what you have written in your post. I didn't know any quilters - but my step-grandmother gave me a quilt. It consisted of only 4 inch squares alternating between the ugliest orange polyester fabric and some other floral fabric. I had to put on my bed, because she was coming to visit for a week. By the end of the week - I loved many aspects of the quilt (not the color, or the fabric.) And I wanted to make a quilt - a pretty one. hahaha

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  2. These quilts are amazing1 I can't even begin to imagine the numbers of hours that went into making them.

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  3. I was lucky enough to marry into a family with a quilter, and met Grammy June (my husband's Grammy, but I claimed her as my own even before we got married) about 9 years ago. Grammy June was the only quilter in the family as far as I know, but I am happy that I had a few years to get to know her, and so grateful for her influence in getting me quilting. Now I can't stop! I think of her all the time now, and wish she were here so that I could pick her brain and get tips and tricks from her. I never had quilts growing up--just blankets, although my mom sewed clothing and made us AWESOME Halloween costumes each year. I didn't really start quilting until about 3 1/2 years ago, but there's no turning back. I'm hoping to keep on learning, keep on quilting, and hopefully pass on the love of stitching love into quilts to my children!

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