A body can take comfort in layin’ herself out on the quiltin’ of patch quilt

Posted by | November 24, 2009

“I’m proud to see you,” said Aunt Cynthy. “Go in, ef you can get in for the children, or ef you are willin’, we can talk right hyar. I couldn’t miss the first good quiltin’ weather this spring. All winter I piece and patch, me and the gals, and when pretty weather comes I set up my frame right hyar under this beech tree.

“I’d rather piece as eat and I’d rather patch as piece, but I take natcherally delight in quiltin’. I’m an old woman, honey, and I tell ye, a woman can do her work better ef she has something pretty to her hand to take up whenst she air plumb worried out.

“Whenst I war a new married woman with the children round my feet hit ‘peared like I’d git so wearied I couldn’t take delight in nothing; and I’d git ill to my man and the children and what do you reckon I done them times? I just put down the breeches I was patchin’ and tuk out my quilt squar’. Hit wuz better than prayin’, child, hit wuz reason.

“I don’t reckon you want to see my quilts, do you? I reckon you’ve seen a sight better, but they are always new to me. Thar’s hist’ry in ‘em, and memory.

Kentucky woman with quilts, late 19th century“Now this Swarm ‘o Bees—I made that when my man and me were a-talking. [i.e. courting---see King Lear.] Thar’s right smart of this speckled pink in hit, see. I put hit in because Tom ‘lowed I looked mighty pretty when I wore hit. A body’s foolish child.

“I always liked this here Flower Basket. I made hit when Jack war the baby. He had a little green dress like this here base, and Tom and me ‘lowed he looked so sweet in that dress that I put ever’ bit an’ grain I could cut out of it in this here Flower Basket.

“We buried Jack thirty-five year ago, but I can see him, crawlin’ into ever’thing and always a laughin’ so a body couldn’t scold him, as plain as the day I begun to make this quilt.

“Here’s my Radical Rose. I reckon you’ve heared I was the first human that ever put black in a Radical Rose. Thar hit is, right plumb in the middle. Well, whenever you see black in a Radical Rose you can know hit war made atter the second year of the war. Hit was this way, ever’ man war a-talkin’ about the Radicals and all the women tuk to makin’ Radical Roses.

“One day I got to studyin’ that thar ought to be black in that thar pattern, sense half the trouble was to free the niggers and hit didn’t look fair to leave them out. And from that day to this thar’s been black in ever’ Radical Rose.

“This here Rocky Mountain I made atter Belle’s man went West and couldn’t stay away. But atter he come back he talked a mighty sight about the Rocky Mountains and about the way the sun come up over them mountains in jagged peaks, like he said, ‘Thar’s the sun, and thar’s the road a-trailin’ back.’ Lor,’ no, I didn’t draw hit off out of my head, I reckon hit war made before my time, but I made mine to remember Loge’s goin’ and comin’.

“Thar’s one quilt here my grandmother made. Hit’s the Wilderness Road and I’ve got it in my head that she made hit up herself, because I know she rid to Kentucky horseback behind her man over the Wilderness Road.

“A body can take comfort in layin’ herself out on the quiltin’ of patch quilt. Hit’s somethin’ to show whenst you are gone.”

“Patch Quilts and Philosophy,” by Elizabeth Daingerfield, in The Craftsman: an illustrated monthly magazine in the interest of better art, better work and a better more reasonable way of living, Volume 14, 1908

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