Thursday, 7 August 2014

Quilts, Alias Grace and Friendship

Tonight , I am supposed to be at my book club discussing Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace. But circumstances take me elsewhere. So I have sent my contribution via facebook with photographs and the following message:

To my book group friends as you sit and drink wine together to discuss this book I was going to bring the following to the sofa :
The quilt as narrative. A domestic pastime normally undertaken by women is used as a plot devise in this novel. Quilts- from the everyday pattern to those used for special occasions are stitched together, in chapters to form the backdrop of the story. Little pieces of history, in seemingly random selection [or are they?] act as metaphor for the bigger picture. What about what lies beneath ? These are bed-coverings after all, so the sexual aspect of the novel is also represented by these complex patterns and fabrics. Discuss and enjoy the food and wine xxx

As I was reading this novel, with its quilt patterns including the Wheel of Mystery, Log Cabin and Tree of Paradise I remembered that I too had made one and some more.
This domestic pastime for me means so much more than just a bedspread or cushion. It is the sum of many things. The choosing of the fabric, a cushion I made was composed of fabric bought in Norwich on that summer holiday after A' Levels, all chosen from Laura Ashley lawn cotton. My school friend Frances and I had gone to a cottage by the sea owned by her family. Mixed in with that is the memory of past boyfriends, dresses made, walks by the sea in Norfolk wearing aran cardigans knitted by our mothers and sitting on quilts talking into the night about future plans and hopes and results. Later, those fabrics would mean children and becoming god-parents and more.

This bedspread is folded with love and friendship and dedicated to my lovely friend Susie Rowan. We made our quilts together in Hampton Court. How we laughed and talked as the chalk was marking the fabric. Our choices so different but we had three children each, ages the same and much in common. We cut our cloth differently and both create in alternative ways but we have a strong connection.

So as I spread my quilt out the memories fly like butterflies, because there are no moths in my memory.

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