QUILTING IN THE COOK FAMILY
Several years ago, my wife, Margaret Ann decided she wanted to make some quilts. She ended up making three. Now in this day and time, it is not as easy as it looks. She pieced the first one together, gathered the batting and other stuff she needed and we started looking for a quilting frame to buy. None could be found. This is when my experience with my grandmother, Amanda Jane Meadows Cook, paid off and remembering going to quilting parties with her as a small child at least gave me the ability to know what a quilt frame looked like.
I went to the local lumber yard, purchased the required lumber and started to work. I think I must have drilled at least two hundred holes in these four boards, got the required bolts and wing nuts and thought I was in business. I remembered there were little nails sticking up to hook the cloth to, or was that a curtain stretcher? My prototype didn't work too well so we made modifications and in reality, had to reinvent the quilt frame. Except for bruises on my thigh when my wife was quilting from bumping into it, they worked nicely. Well that is to say once we got the thing on to the frame. I had to staple heavy muslin about six inches wide around the frame so the quilt makings could be pinned to the frame. It was during the pinning process that we had to be sure everything was plumb so we would have a rectangular quilt when completed, I stuck my finger with one of the pins and did I get sympathy? No. My wife's only shouted remark was, "Don't get blood on my quilt!"
I remember going to grandmothers and accompanying her to Mrs. Jone's house to help her quilt. Things like how they would take a piece of string and a piece of chalk and make those little concentric arcs to show them where to quilt, when they got to a certain spot and had to roll the part of the quilt that was completed around the frame to get to the area they would be quilting next, and the even little stitches they somehow managed to make.
In later years, when I came home on leave, grandmother always seemed to be working on another quilt. Each of my three daughters has a quilt made by their grandmother and another made by their mother. It is difficult to for me to fathom the patience required to do these jobs. They must develop it in order to cope with the menfolk of the family.
Musings by Henry T. Cook, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.)