When I was 17, my church suggested that each young woman to do a project, similar to an Eagle Project in hours required, etc. These could be anything; learning to sew to learning to bow hunt. For one of mine, I chose to make a quilt for when I got married.
My dad is a huge cross-stitch fan. He does amazing, tiny, intricate types of cross stitching for fun. So, I decided I'd give cross-stitching a go and cross-stitch some of the squares for my future quilt.
Life is like that-one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all
right like the embroidery. --Oliver Wendell Holmes
But, I'm also not a quitter and am super competitive, so I didn't want to give up, nor admit defeat! Instead, I asked, begged really, my mom, my aunts, cousins, friends, sister, all to help me with the cross-stitched squares. I mean those Eagle Scouts get to utilize the time and service from others for their project, so I was game for that kind of assistance!
However, even with the help of friends and family, I still wasn't going to finish it in time for my graduation (the deadline). So, I hurriedly learned how to make some small quilts and was able to give them to hospitals and nursing homes.
With the deadline passed and the smaller quilts-making making it so I could indeed say I made a quilt, the larger, cross-stitched quilt was put on the back burner - the very back burner.
Fast forward nine years, I then had one child and one on the way. We had recently moved to the KC area and I was tending my sister's girls in her home. As we were unpacking some things in my own home, my sister, Giselle found the pieces to the cross-stitched quilt. "What? You still haven't finished this? Bring it with you when you watch the girls, and when I get home (she was a teacher) I'll help you put it together."
And so, we stitched the squares together in two afternoons. We had a mutual friend who was an amazing quilter. Giselle suggested that I go to her house and see if she had suggestions on how to back such a large quilt without having a seam down the center.
On our next trip to our hometown, I took the quilt and visited Mrs. Wallace (our amazing quilter friend). We spread it out on the table and said we wanted to just use a large sheet. She nixed that idea because "it would be too hard to quilt though".
Shortly after we got home, my sister died unexpectedly and I became blessedly busy with four littles and didn't worry about the quilt for a while.
And by "for a while", I mean another twelve years! When I mentioned to my sister-in-law, Mandy, that I've had this quilt for over 20 years started and it hasn't been finished yet. "What!?! Come on- you've already done most of the hard work. We're doing this! It will go pretty quickly."
And so, after about three mornings of super guided sewing, the quilt is finished!!
It is the 21 year quilt because it took that long to finish. But my niece, Mandy, suggested calling it the Giving Quilt because so many people helped to make it happen - they all gave of their time and talents to help out. Each person's name, or initials, is stitched into the square that they cross-stitched. I love that I have that little piece of each one of them!
Those people are: Robyn Anderson, Alan Eastman, Jill Gillis, Jody Ahlstrom, Nicole Ashcroft, Julie Menzie, Mandy Beyeler, Carol Allred, Sarah Richards, and the three to have already gone on to heaven, Barbara Wallace, Ann Johnston, and Giselle Fleming. I couldn't have done it without you!
Our lives are like quilts bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.