I have always had a love affair with scrap quilts. I just love to look at all the colors and fabrics and imagine where each may have come from. A scrap quilt invents a story in your mind, even if you do not know any of the fabrics personally.
Even better if you do! Looking at a scrap quilt and being able to identify the first projects of the pieces of fabric is a very centering way of admiring a quilt. And if someone close to you can identify them and pass along a story or a tidbit about a particular piece, it is a way of passing on history and wandering through your roots.
Scrap quilts make me think of my Nana. I was blessed to be around for 16 of her late years. I remember actively trying to wake up as soon as I heard her wandering about the house. This was often very early in the morning. I would tiptoe down the stairs hoping that no one else would wake up so I could have her all to myself. In both winter and summer the house seemed cool and comfortable in the early mornings. She would drink coffee and sometimes rock me in the rocking chair. I would ask her about things I did not know and she would tell me stories. I was somehow fascinated by her. I was fascinated with her hair and her skin. She never ever looked “old” to me, she just was.
She was rarely with idle hands, she did a lot of quilting and knitting. It was early on in my childhood when I found a love for yarn, through her. She would give me her scraps of yarn, the pieces left over, and she taught me to knit on my fingers. I remember also knitting a baby blue garter stitch scarf for awhile as well. If she was quilting, I was allowed to use the iron and iron her scraps. There was sort of a distinctive smell to them, a combination of starch and mustyness from the closet which was enhanced when I put the iron to the cloth.
She could tell me stories about her scrap quilts. She could tell me which piece was a handkerchief and which piece was a part of a dress and which was my PopPops old shirt.
My aunt tells me now that I knit like my Nana. I start too many projects, practice ADD knitting, yet somehow either get them done or get them frogged. It might annoy me about myself, but I couldn’t be happier about the correlation being made! You see, when I was a child, it did not occur to me that my Nana might have been human, held down by the various foibles of this world. To me, she was perfect. And if you lose that person at a young age, she continues to be that in your mind despite anything you might later hear. She goes on in my memory being just as she was when I was a child, and that is a wonderful gift. Just like a scrap quilt, those scraps of memories somehow center me.