I can see Jay’s wincing expression as he reads this latest headline, a rampant rejoicing of my love of puns good and bad. But really, the matter of the baby quilt has been one of may smiles and many miles, and it all started out more than a decade ago.
1995 was the year I first came to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship. At that time the programme still included a wonderful one-month orientation programme. I still count close friends from that programme, which had about 50 of us holed up in Athens Ohio, guests of Ohio University.
In addition to learning about “how to rent an apartment”, the US academic system, and all about American cultural customs, we were also exposed to “how to make an American quilt.” Well, not specifically, but that was the summer that the national quilt exhibit was actually held in Ohio, and we all got to visit the exhibit and learn about the long and impressive history of quilts in America — from material necessity, to pioneer family history by fabric, to weddings, to their role in leading slaves to freedom. The quilts were breathtaking pieces of art, but practical too, and that’s when the tiniest seed took root.
Later that year, Winano Ryder starred in the movie, “How to make an American Quilt” (this was before her less savoury phase starring in “how not to shoplift from an American retail store.”) And in the years following, my interest slowly grew nurtured by trips to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania — the Amish heartland where hand quilting is both a necessity and an inspiration.
Then I returned to South Africa and slowly over the next few years, identified and kept little pieces of cloth that might, one day, make a nice quilt. A few years later I started to hand piece/stitch nine little blocks together to make a larger block. One piece of fabric came from a old flannel shirt, the other from a piece I had bought at a fabric shop. But it all only recently came together when we knew we were going to have a baby.