Portrait Of a Quilter

When someone finds out I quilt, I am always amazed at the shocked look that cross their face.  It is as if a quilter can be nothing more than a wrinkled old grandmother who sits wrapped in her shawl quilting...when she is not napping in front of re-runds of Matlock.  Their responses, while slightly delayed, are predictable, and I have heard them many, many times.  I get the, "Oh, I wish I could do that!" or "I've always wanted to learn."  My favorite has to be the "How nice for you",  which implies it's not nice for them.  What I love to hear is "My Grandmother used to quilt" which is quickly followed by "BUT she did it all by hand."  As if somehow I am cheating by using a machine.  I have done my share of hand quilting, a very small share.  I'll admit hand quilting is an art form, not one for the faint of heart or those afraid of a little blood.

Truthfully, many quilters are fortunate and do learn to quilt at their mother or Grandmother's knee.  I was not one of these fortunate quilters.  As far as I knew, no one genetically linked to me quilted at all.  And then I received this.

This quilt was Quilted by my Great-Grandmother. Inez Irick Huber.  Sadly there is no label stating when or where. (Label Your Quilts Ladies!)

I find this quilt an amazing work of art and patience.  Inez was the mother of 5 boys.  As the mother of 3 children, only 2 of whom are boys, I can see why she might have needed an outlet.  I never had the opportunity to meet her since she passed away before I was born.  When people speak of Inez it is always with strong words.  She was a small person with a defiant personality who was the driving force of her family.  (Perhaps we have more in common than just our quilting.)

Inez age 16

As I admired this hand quilted beauty with it's perfectly spaced quilting, something I assure you I never will aspire to, I realized not only was it hand quilted by it was also hand pieced!  I can only imagine the number of hours put into this quilt.  These were hours away from husband and boys, peaceful hours perhaps with friends or family, hours doing something you enjoyed with people you love.  These too are things Inez and I have in common.

Although, I have not been able to put a name to this pattern, it contains elements of Irish Crosses, Ocean Waves and Tree of Life.  In case you wondered, I know I did, this quilt contains 7,128 triangles or 3,564 hand pieced 1/2 square triangles, just over 3,560 more than I care to ever hand piece.  I have no idea when it was constructed and can only assume that since Inez was born in 1884 is was sometime after that. (and of course before she died.)

This quilt is in remarkably good condition and has only two small tears.  Before being passed down to me it hung in my Aunts farm house for years.  Now that it is down it seems to be saying, "Just let me rest awhile."  And I plan to let it do just that, AFTER a nice relaxing bath, for the quilt not for me.

Despite the fact that I am saddened by the lack of information about this quilt, I am quite happy it has found its way into my home.   I feel grateful that through this beautiful family heirloom I have found a connection to quilting and family I never new existed.  Perhaps with luck, I will be able to pass this quilt down to my daughter someday and continue the legacy of quilting that Inez started.  
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