Quilts + My Brain Fog

posted in: Day In The Life, Quilting, Work 6
Eva Phillips, Lora King and Crystal Cruise on side of quilt frame. Photo: Terry Eiler, 1978.
Eva Phillips, Lora King and Crystal Cruise on side of quilt frame. Photo: Terry Eiler, 1978.

Nestled cozily in the Library of Congress, waiting for me to discover it tonight while doing research, the photograph above shows members of the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church quilting group hand quilting a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt on a frame. Isn’t it marvelous?

Quilts have wrapped around me, covered the ground under me, and been pulled over me my whole life. As a tot, I sat on a lap I had to share with a wooden hoop (didn’t mind.) I played under tables in church basements while quilts were basted above me. Spools of thread were great tables for my sisters and my Sullivan Family figurines. Being immersed like this means I have had a deep love for the American patchwork quilt for a long time, almost like a person loves her country. There’s no question, almost no notice taken of the love and honor one has for it; it’s just who you are.

As a result of this immersion and by sheer osmosis I’ve known a fair bit about quilts and quiltmaking for some time — even when I wasn’t making quilts myself.

My “quilt epiphany” happened right around the time I got sick. Life as I knew it was falling to pieces, and it made perfect sense to tear fabric up into pieces and sew it back together again, but prettier. Growing along with my passion for making quilts grew a deep and abiding love for the history of the American quilt, the story of the thing, the reasons why, the hows, the styles, etc. And so my quilt geekhood has ripened into true geekdom. I could talk double-pinks and madder browns all day, I think. The stories, the people, the quilts themselves never get old. Even when they are old.

This post has taken me well over an hour to compose and it’s still not right. My brain is in a fog. The diet is very difficult. My guts feel better — honestly, they do. In fact, there are several reasons to be extremely happy with the results of this major change so far.

But I’m slow. And I’m foggy. And I keep looking at those women quilting and I would like to crawl under the table and be six.

6 Responses

  1. Cruz
    | Reply

    So good to hear that you are feeling better!

  2. Diane
    | Reply

    Oh what a quilt history you have! I am glad your guts are feeling better. I am truly amazed that no one suggested dietary changes before…but maybe they did. I can’t remember what your new diet entails, but I do know that gluten is sometimes responsible for that sloggy brain fog. It cleared completely for me when I gave up gluten. Hang in there…you are on the right track.

  3. Jessica
    | Reply

    Mary, I understand completely! My cousins and I grew up under our Mawmaw’s quilt frame, which took up the entire space of her living room. If you wanted to sit on the couch you either had to walk across the chairs or crawl under the frame. On my rough days (finding out I’ve lost a job I’ve adored for 7 years, etc) I still want to crawl under her quilting frame and lay on my back and watch her needle go in and out of the fabric. It was always so soothing. So far, I’m the only cousin who has been truly bitten by the quilting bug, but they all were nibbled on at some point because they all want me to make one for them 🙂 Please know that I am praying for you as you are in this transition. I will specifically begin praying for “fogginess of brain” to disappear, as I am sure that is miserable.


  4. Patty Karoly
    | Reply

    I hope your new diet makes you feel better. Healing the gut is extremely important I have come to realize in the past few months. I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism recently and have had to totally restrict my diet. I too am working on healing by gut with restrictive foods, probiotics and also do acupuncture. Hang it there, they say that healing a leaky gut takes time but is possible.

    I love everything you do from your blog, show, etc.


  5. Diane
    | Reply

    On second thought it might just be withdrawal from what your body is used to like when you miss your morning coffee. Maybe I have brain fog this morning, dashing off a reply with first impressions!

  6. Lois
    | Reply

    I, too, grew up under quilt frames – both at my grandma’s house in the winter and year-round at church (in the basement). My mom, who is 86, and her friends still gather at church on Wednesdays to sit on both sides of a quilt frame. I have joined them on visits home. It is such a wonderful thing to see. There are fewer of my mom’s generation left to participate as the years go by and not many of the younger women are able to replace them. This tradition will probably not last many more years, which is sad. The ladies quilt for others and use the money for missions or church improvements. The group also makes their own quilt every year which is sold at the church auction in the fall. Then “the pastor’s quilt” is always in the works. It is a departing gift for him and his family. These ladies are very dedicated. They quilt every Wednesday afternoon. They occasionally hold a “work day” which runs from around 10:00 a.m. to 6:00. The quilts they piece themselves are made with embroidered squares, so they not only work at church, they take blocks home to embroider. My mom is the designated “prairie point” maker and attacher. Prairie points are their signature finish. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

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