Sunday, 21 January 2007

Can I tell you something..........

Now I am aware that this a knitting blog and knitting, well, it is my favourite child but I may have other crafty interests.

Okay I do.

Sometimes I sense a wee bit of a snobbery from knitters towards other crafts and while I don't find this particular offensive if the truth be told I bet you my bottom dollar there are many of us out there secretly have an affair on the side(or maybe being downright sleazy we are carrying on with so many).

Today I am going to tell you the tale of our quilt because everything has a story and sometimes it must be told. I now consider myself a quilter, I have made 3 of them so not a serious quilter but a quilter nonetheless. However when I made our quilt I wasn't. I had however sewn in the distant past and had confidence I could still find my way around a sewing machine.

I was in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand and came across some used hand-embroidered patches from the local hill tribes. These were wonderful little pieces of art that had been collected by a local for sale in her shop.


And these:

And more, many more.

This store also sold it's own hand-dyed, handwoven hemp fabric. I couldn't resist. Who could?

I spent a wonderful hour going through baskets and baskets of these patches before deciding on my favourites. I added about a half dozen rolls of the hemp and left happy, very happy. It must be said that not only does Thailand have some of the best food in the world but the shopping is fabulous.

Once back home in the States I had my brain storm. How about I make a quilt out of it all? I mean how hard could it be? I went to the library and found my muse in a Kaffe Fassett patchwork book. Now for all of you laughing out loud at the presumptuous beginner starting with a Kaffe Fassett pattern, I say hush. He had this great pattern for a window covering and I figured well this looks doable and decided to modify it to a queen size quilt. About 18 months later and many, many hours (god where did the perseverance come from?) I had a quilt, I had learned alot and made many mistakes but damn I was proud, and you know I still am.

And the back:

But more importantly when I look at this quilt I remember. I remember backpacking for 4 months through South East Asia. I remember the sensuality of Thailand. I remember it's intense heat and humidity. I remember missing hot showers because we could only afford basic guesthouses and basic meant cold water only. I remember Ted being shocked to his core by this. I remember for the first (and last) time feeling safer than Ted when out at night alone because the prostitutes weren't interested in me and the local men were very respectful. I remember the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness of the Thai people that made travelling with a 2 1/2 year old much easier than you would think. I remember being so pregnant with my daughter that I could barely reach the machine by the end so determined was I that I would finish before her birth (and I did).

Because like knitting that's what a quilt is isn't it - a vehicle for our memories.

Like everything we make with our hands, it just means more somehow because of it.

What else do you do?


Jane said...

Your quilt is just, well, stunning.

What else do I do? Sometimes I make watercolors. Each one is a record of a special place or memory, like your quilt. You've reminded me why I make them, and that I want to make more.

Thank you for writing this lovely, thought-full post.

Joan said...

What an enjoyable adventure you've provided us. Thanks so much. I am a knitter who also loves quilting and has made a few in her day. I also cheat with other crafts and I think that makes us much more well-rounded knitters.

Thanks again for the trip to Thailand and your spread is gorgous. I used to have many similar little patchwork squares called Hmong from Asia (though there is now a big Hmong community in the US) that I found at a big quilt show in NYC 25 yrs ago. I must remember what I did with them.