Friday, March 9, 2012

Other People's Wonk

Let's just say I can appreciate a little 'wonk'. Especially if we are talking quilts. I love quilts, different shapes, sizes, colors! I used to make quilts back in the day; in fact I can recall my first truly satisfactory (brimming with pride really) sewing project was the first quilt I ever made, I was 13 at the time. It was full of wonk. The last quilts I made were just before Pony Girl was born, small hand tied crib quilts that now keep her dolls cozy on cold nights.

I have been itching to make full size quilts again for ages, but it seems time, space, and other things get in the way. In the mean time however, I have started a little collection of quilts made by other people. I have a few amazingly beautiful vintage quilts from my grandmother, some she made - some given to her for gifts. I also have another growing collection of quilts made by people unknown and picked up for next to nothing at thrift shops and yard sales.

Some of them are slightly vintage, or at least make use of some vintage fabrics, others are not vintage in any way; but all of them were made with love and care.

Sometimes the colors are a little strange, the stitches uneven, the binding twisted, and there is always an element of wonk. Some are small - odd shaped and sized, some are large and crooked.

When I spy such a quilt in the thrift shop, my heart skips a beat as I go to investigate. Some are a pass, left for someone else to discover. Then there are the sweet few that have made me look around in fear that someone would grab it out of my hands. Those lovelies come home with me to stay.

Some are worn, most have small stains, and some need repairing. I almost whisper to them, "You are coming home with me and I am going to take good care of you." The first thing I do when I get them home, is to give them a good once over. If I determine they are tough enough for a hot soak and a trip through the washing machine and dryer, down they go to the laundry. Once they come through looking brighter and smelling daisy fresh, I thread my needle for any repairs. During my repairs I get to spend some quality time with my new wonky quilt, getting to know it better - acquainting myself with it's personality and quirks.

Once any repairs are complete, I lay out the quilt on the big bed, I run my hands over the stitches, I stand back and admire the big picture, and I am happy. I think about all of the time and care that went into making these quilts. The cutting, the piecing, the sewing, the hand quilting! Hours of time and love! I wonder about the maker, the recipients of these quilts...sometimes I tell myself a story about them. I always wonder how they landed in the thrift shop or the yard sale; certainly I would never give up these beautiful wonky treasures. Though I will admit I am a little happy that someone did give them up so that they could come home with me.

Another really great thing about these quilts - I am not afraid to use them. They make our beds cozy, get thrown on the ground for a picnic, wrapped around us on cold nights, and they make the most spectacular dens and forts! From time to time they cover 'the couch that mocks me' for a burst of extra bright and cheerful.

Thank you to the makers of these happy quilts, your work is appreciated and fills me with joy.


june at noon said...

I love me some wonk, too. You've got a gorgeous collection! And while I value quilts made for show, I much prefer being linked to the "old days" when quilts were made to be functional. Sure, they got beat up and used, but they were beautiful while they did it and still beautiful in their used-up-ness. :)

Floss said...

Oh yes, this is exactly how I feel about my tropical island quilt! I nearly turned it down at the Vide Grenier when I spotted its wonky and often missing stitches, and its curious fabric choices, but when I saw the vendors holding it up to re-fold it after my inspection (a beautiful couple they were, and highlighted by the sunshine) I had to rush back and buy it! I told its 'story' (some of it true, from the vendor himself) on my blog later, and I certainly believe it every time I use the quilt. I'm astonished you've managed to find so many, though! Here in France they're unusual, of course, but I never found one in England, either. You are a star Seeker of Quilts, and a deserving one too!

Colette said...

I just started on my very first quilt today, so I can certainly appreciate all the work (and wonk) that goes into them.
How could anyone part with these treasures? I love the top one - it's really very special!

Flaming Nora said...

We have a fantastic collection of quilts that my mother in law has made for us. She made little ones for the boys that were used as play mats when they were young and now as some thing to snuggle under on car journeys and on winter evenings. She has been doing them for ever. A friend said he still has the one she made him as a baby on the end of his bed. Wonderful bits of history. I hope the boys will do the same. I still use the knitted patchwork blanket my Great Grandma made me when I was 3.

vintage grey said...

I agree that these charming quilts are the most wonderful to own. I love the vintage hand-quilted quilts that have such character. They truly are pieces of art. Thanks for sharing these lovelies. :) xo

greenrabbitdesigns said...

So much history in these fabric creations!
Wonk is a great word. :)
Happy weekend,
Vivienne x

teddybearswednesday said...

Well as you know I'm all about the wonk!! I love this post and it is exactly how i feel both about some old quilts i have, all my old bears, and the odd knitted bear and animal i find at the oppy for 50c. To be the wonk is a big part of their appeal, their humaness you could say.
And while I'm always thrilled to find such things at the oppy, at the same time it slightly breaks my heart that something someone put a lot of love into isn't being valued or appreciated, well I guess it does when I come along.
I'm not afraid to use them either my quilts and to cuddle and have my bears out lounging about. I think they would be sad not to be , and I think both they and their makers would want them to be used and loved and worn even more. Because that's what they were meant for and that's the mission in life.
PS sorry for the extremely long comment!

Mare said...

Oh i LOVE your quilt collection! I have a few myself but my favorite is the one my daughter Katie made for me a few years ago for my birthday. i love all the imperfections in handmade things too. Nothing is perfect... Have a happy weekend! love, mare

Sherri B. said...

I get so sentmental about quilts that I got teary while reading your loving words for these true works of art. I have also spread on my bed, the treasures that have come home with me and run my hand over it, picturing the womans hands that worked the fabric to make something pleasant and warm for her family.

Thank you for sharing your lovely collection with us.

Have a great weekend! xo

generationSue said...

What a wonderful post! Really enjoyed it :)

Chase Clark said...

I know the feeling exactly - I called it "perfect imperfection". My quilts are like that, since I prefer hand-cutting my pieces instead of using a rotary cutter. And my mom recently gave me some old quilt scraps, wonky and threadbare and all, and I made them into some potholders for the kitchen and they made me so immensely happy!