Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Quilt

Last year I fell in love with a beautiful quilt in an antique store with a price tag of $250! My husband was not about to let me shell out that kind of money for a ratty old blanket (nor did we have that kind of money to shell out for a ratty old blanket!), so I got it into my stubborn head that I would just have to make my own.

Coincidentally, I had just seen a pattern for the same exact kind of quilt in a magazine that month. The quilt is called Grandmother's Flower Garden. It involves hand-stitching hundreds of tiny hexagons together, a daunting task even for an advanced quilter, let alone me, someone whose quilting skills involved sewing together several (uneven) squares and securing the layers together with yarn. But one look at that pricey quilt in the store and it was too late for me. I had never seen anything so beautiful and, in typical Alyson-fashion, I was head over heels in love before I even knew what hit me!

I knew that this quilt was going to take a very, very long time to finish, and that was okay with me from the get-go. I got it into my head that as long as I was done with it by the time my grandchildren were born, that was good enough for me! I still have a long way to go on the quilt (and my children are far from the age when I have to worry about grandchildren, so thankfully I still have plenty of time), but never in my life could I have anticipated just how much this quilt and I would go through together in the long journey to finish it.

I never planned it this way, but in the beginning, I would start rummaging through old clothes looking for a certain color to use for the quilt. Soon, one flower was made with my old maternity dress; another was made from my husband's old favorite pajama pants (with permission of course; they were ripped!); one of my kids' onsies, and so on. Then I started asking people for things to put into the quilt. Before I knew it, I had worked in things from my mom, my step-dad and countless other family members and friends, and my quilt was becoming very sentimental!

I started bringing my quilt with me everywhere I went. The flowers were small enough that I could take them anywhere to work on. I started dragging them around to people's houses, to my doctor's visits, etc. When I started the quilt, my youngest son was having a lot of health problems. He had to have some procedures done in the hospital, including surgery. I was a nervous wreck, but I poured it all into my quilt!

One day, I loaded up the quilt in the front seat of my car and set off to visit my best friend. I had been working on a very special piece and was excited to show it to her. I was making a flower in memory of my beloved grandfather, who had passed away a few years earlier. My grandma had given me fabric from his work shirt and his pajamas, and I was piecing it together with fabric from a good friend. It was raining that day, and despite the fact that I was driving extra slowly, I hydroplaned and flipped the car. I was terrified, but okay. I stood there looking at my upside-down car. I was so thankful that I was okay and that my kids weren't with me, but surely my beloved quilt was ruined!! My heart was broken. All that hard work, down the drain! All the love I had poured into my quilt, the hours, the sweat, the tears! I managed to blubber to someone who had stopped to help me that my very special quilt was in my car.

My mother-in-law picked me up and drove me home. A few hours later, there was a knock on the door. Unbeknownst to me, people had gone through my upside-down car, with glass everywhere, and managed to pick up every single tiny hexagon from the flower I had been working on. They brought me my quilt which, miraculously, other than a few tiny shards of glass, was absolutely fine! I have never in my life been so touched by the kindness of strangers!

Now my quilt and I are going through the hell of Lyme Disease together. As I sew one more tiny hexagon into my quilt, it represents one more piece of my life. My story, my journey, is decorated with the people I love, and reflected back to me in my quilt. I don't know how my story will end, or when my quilt will be done. I do know that one day, I will put in a hexagon and it will represent how I survived Lyme Disease, and how it almost took my life. I am a survivor and my quilt is a survivor. Now I must go, there is work to be done and hexagons to sew...


  1. Alyson~ I just re-read all of your posts after putting E to bed. You are amazing and I'm soooo proud of you!!! As someone who's been chronically ill (and is hopefully now in remission- although I'm getting scared that some of my symptoms are coming back since 8 weeks with no meds) I understand a little teensy-weensy bit of this. You have such a great attitude and I'm so thankful that folks struggling w/Lyme or with life can read your words. I love you! Megan

  2. Keep on quilting! Love you!

  3. I love this! I am so sorry you flipped your car, but what an amazing story!

  4. Love this photo and this idea!!! The perfect expression of you...taking worn out bits and creating something beautiful. Love you friend. Knowing you makes me smile. XOXOXO

  5. Thanks! I need to post an updated picture of the quilt so people can see what it looks like.

  6. I am so happy you and this quilt are ok. This post made me cry Alyson! Jaime