I thought about my grandmother Rebecca Miner this morning and about the quilts she made, those that my grandmother Anna Beck made, those my mother-in-law Retha Morison made, and those made by my aunt Dorothy Beck created. Each woman had a special flair that was incorporated in the needle craft they applied.
My grandmother Beck was a very strong Pentecostal woman. Her quilts were more drab made of dark, wool patches, sewn to flannel material with knots of yarn. Her quilts were functional, utilitarian, and warm. The designs were simple, but had a Shaker-like beauty.
The quilts that my grandmother Miner made were things of beauty. Her creativity was portrayed in designs of rings, flowers, windmills, or patriotic flag dioramas. It was rare that her quilting frame was missing from her T.V. room. If we visited, she’d fill a needle with thread and have us sit at her side to stitch the straight lines, while her needle flowed into intricate designs. The cotton quilts were from pieces of clothing that were worn. Looking closely, someone would say, “I used to wear that, it was a skirt or dress, or shirt.” She made one for each of her grandchildren as a wedding gift. If I didn’t miscount, that would be thirty quilts. The one I have is titled, “The Flight of the Wild Geese”
Quilts that Retha made were of double-knit. They wear like iron and are for the most part, just four pieces of material sewn into simple squares with yarn knotted corners. She started by making baby quilts, pastel colored squares affixed with yarn to a large bath towel. Soon that wasn’t enough for her and had her husband Bud make her a set of quilting frames, large enough to hold a queen size flannel sheet. She had graduated to making larger quilts, bright multihued squares of double knit knotted to the flannel with a layer of batting between. Much of the material was recycled clothing, recognizable by those who were them or by others saying, “Didn’t you used to have a dress, pair of pants, or a blouse like that?”
The last quilt that I’ve seen my Aunt Dorothy make was created using old silk neck ties. The design was a sort of sunburst or flower pattern with the narrow ends of the cravats at the center and the points of the wider ends making the rays or the petals.