A few months before she passed away Grandma took Miriam and Rachel to the fabric store to pick out some fabric for some baby quilts. She had more or less kept up with delivering a lovely baby quilt to each of her grandbabies over the years. Sometimes she had the quilts ready before the baby was born. Sometimes she didn't have the quilts ready until the babies had been around for a little while (I believe Miriam and Benjamin received their baby quilts at the very same time), but always there was a quilt from Grandma. My kids call their quilts their "Grandma Quilts."
Poor Grandma had amassed quite a backlog for herself the way her children had been reproducing like rabbits. She needed a quilt for Carter, Arwyn, and Alexander, so the girls helped her pick out fabric for all those babies and then Grandma let them choose some fabric for themselves so she could help them make pillowcases. Rachel chose some Doctor Who fabric (or perhaps it was Harry Potter (I don't know; it's in her room somewhere) and Miriam chose a lovely yellow floral print (her favourite colour).
But then life got busy. School started and we had those crazy wildfires and Grandma got sick and then she died and the quilts never got made.
I asked Aunt Dorothy if she would finish the quilts for us since none of us knew how to quilt and she said she would be honoured. But then I never got the fabric to her and it was time for us to move, so I bravely decided to take Alexander's fabric with us. I prepared the fabric and the batting for the three quilts, folded up Alexander's and put it in a box, and folded up the other two and put them in a pile for Grandpa to get to Aunt Dorothy (or, probably more accurately, to get to Aunt Linda to get to Aunt Dorothy).
He told me on the phone the other day that he had gotten the quilts back from Aunt Dorothy and that got me thinking that perhaps it was time for us to pull out Alexander's Grandma Quilt, so we did. And, boy, was it an adventure!
I sewed a very simple quilt that required no edging (though I'm sure Dorothy's quilts have a beautiful edge to them not all of Grandma's quilts did—Rachel's was edged and Zoë's was edged but Miriam's and Benjamin's were not) and then the kids and I tied it with yarn to finish it.
Here are Rachel and Miriam just starting out with the yarn tying (on Grandma's quilting frame):
Rachel had done a little quilt tying before at various church activities, but Miriam had not so it was a new experience for her. I've done a bit of quilt tying myself, but I've never set up an entire quilt by myself before (even a simple one) so I still felt rather accomplished.
Zoë and Alexander mostly wanted to play under the quilt, while Benjamin was largely absorbed in Legos. However, Zoë and Benjamin did get in on the action a little bit. Zoë was much more interested in helping than Benjamin was. I almost couldn't get her to stop helping, which was both a good and a bad problem.
Here's Benjamin working on the one knot he contributed to Alexander's Grandma Quilt:
He's a pretty big talker though. Now he wants to piece together a quilt. We'll see about that!
We eventually realized that although the quilt frame is stored in the basement it doesn't have to stay in the basement. In fact, it's really quite portable so we decided to move our little quilting bee outside. Monday was a beautiful day (though today was back to feeling gloomy and tomorrow we're due for another rain-all-day kind of day).
This maple tree makes me so happy; I just love it.
Not too long ago we were out in the yard and Benjamin came up to me and said, "Do you know how to tell the difference between an oak tree and a maple tree?"
I do. But I asked him, "How?"
"It's easy!" he said. "One has oak-shaped leaves and one has Canada-shaped leaves."
The little kids were so excited to be outside that they hardly bothered us while we finished up the quilt. I mean, they still hung out under the quilt quite a bit...
And even rode tricycles under and around the quilting frame...
But largely they played with sticks and mud and worms and snails and chalk and balls. So that was nice. Here are a few pictures of the girls working on the quilt outside:
At some point Miriam decided it was too sunny outside and she ran inside to find her sunglasses:
Quilting in style:
At some point the little kids started playing mailman and they spent a considerable amount of time writing and delivering letters to everyone. Here's one that Zoë left on the quilt for me. I thought it was such a sweet note, as well as the meaning of the quilt. The quilt means "I love you," which is why it was so important for each grandchild to get one...even if Grandma couldn't make them all herself.
Here are Rachel and Miriam showing off the front of the quilt:
And the back, which is a green and white plaid (not that you can really tell from the picture because it's so sunny):
And here are all the kids wrapped up snuggly in their Grandma Quilts:
It was a good day, a good project, a good way to remember Grandma. The quilt itself is not perfect, but it's finished, it's warm, and it's full of love, so it, too, is good.