Why Quilts and Afghans Matter

A great lady was honored at her funeral a few days ago.  Her son-in-law said that she left her fingerprints all over their house—the curtains, the quilts, the crocheted blankets–she had made so many beautiful things for them that would be a way for them to remember her.


It’s funny because as a young woman and being the economist that I was, I just didn’t get it.  I would watch my mom frame a quilt, stitch the quilt, bind the quilt, and I’d think, “Why don’t you just go and buy a quilt?”  I mean after all, if you multiplied the time it took to make a quilt by the value of my mother’s time, making a quilt was not really an economically wise decision.  Right?

Perhaps this reasoning came from the fact that I couldn’t learn to stitch a quilt to save my life.  I had been through the gamut of teachers, needles, and thimbles, but those tiny stitches were simply impossible for me, and I felt like a completely dunce.  The sewing machine and crochet needles were also no friends of mine, but I didn’t worry too much about it.  After all, I felt these arts were becoming fairly outdated and the factories in China were going to help free up my time so I could do more important things.  Ha.

But after listening to that funeral, I remembered my own grandmother.  I don’t remember much about her –she died when I was only five—but I do remember that I loved her SO MUCH.  We were on our way moving from Chicago to Utah, eating at a truck stop in Nebraska when my dad called home and found out she had passed away. My heart broke, and my dad held me as I sobbed in his arms.

But she left me one thing to remember her by.  A pink and white checkered tied quilt.  I don’t know if I consciously thought about it much—that she had made it for me, that it was my connection to her, but I was very attached to it all growing up.  I couldn’t sleep without it.   During those teen years of dances, dates, tennis matches, music competitions, and ACT tests, I always had to sleep with it, and I would turn my room topsy turvy if I couldn’t find it.  It was so smooth and cool and silky, and something about holding it always calmed my heart down.

But at some point, I couldn’t find it.  It was in that period of college or going on my mission that it was just no longer there.  I remember asking my mom if she had seen it around, but she hadn’t.  Years later I found out that my little sister had had it all along. She slept it with it too.

I was actually pretty upset about this until I remembered that my mother was expecting my little sister when my grandmother died. Maybe she deserved a turn with the quilt too.  Except she still has it.  And she’s in Germany now.

I guess I could run on over to Kohl’s or well, I don’t even know where you buy tied quilts, but it really wouldn’t be the same.  My grandmother wouldn’t have actually made it for me.

And so in my economic brain of mine, I have registered that these is a shortage and no amount of money can solve this shortage.  At some point, I look forward to seeing my grandmother Dorthella again.  I already know exactly what I’m going to do.  I’m going to give her a huge hug, and then I will ask,  “Why didn’t you make two quilts?”

So thank you all dear women who have kept these arts alive.  We need to them to keep us connected.



  1. Ok, ok. I still have it. You left it behind when you went on your mission and that’s when the transition occurred. It has gone with me on my mission, to china, to Poland, to Germany… Everywhere I’ve been the past almost twenty years, yikes! Now it’s starting to fall apart. But I still sleep with it!

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