Crafts have always been a family affair for me: my interest was sparked when I was a young teenager, and it was my mother who taught me how to crochet, quilting and embroidery, while one of her close friends taught me how to knit. While browsing the local quilt store in my hometown with my mom, I spotted a bundle of Christmas-themed squares. Although I had never made my own quilt before, my mother immediately offered to buy the squares for me. This was the first full quilt I’ve made – a Christmas quilt painstakingly assembled as I sewed, tore and re-stitched the various squares and borders. My quilt memories are embedded in the living room rug, where I would lay out my pieces to see what they looked like in an aesthetic whole. I’m sure you can still find bits of yarn that haven’t been vacuumed from that rug four or five years later. With my mother’s guidance and guidance, I completed this quilt, the first in a long series.
Pattern, “In Praise of Peaches”, published in “Celebrations” vol. 2, #4 in the summer of 1991
When I first saw this design among the dozens of embroidery books my mother keeps in store, it reminded me of my childhood and driving across the country in a car full of kids and parents. We used to visit my grandparents in Georgia twice a year, and perhaps the strongest memories I associate with those trips (beyond the car sickness) were the fresh peaches from Georgia that we ate in the summer. So ripe they crumbled in our mouths, we ate them raw all season long, cooked them into jams for the winter, and baked them into pies for dessert. For me, it’s a little memory revived by the hours of work I invested in this embroidery. This is one of the joys of cross stitching for me; you take the time to sew each square, with love, passion and patience, and the end result is bigger, more beautiful, than any print you might get at the store. It makes sense, not just because of the design you chose yourself, but because of the time you spent making it.
One of the things I love about crafting is: I can mark time with the projects I’m working on. When I worked on this piece – my first attempt at large scale cross stitch – it was summer and I had just received a bicycle as a birthday present in May. I found a photo of this piece online, and immediately wanted to recreate it, so I scoured the internet for a pattern. Eventually I found it (a rarity!) and started embroidering. That summer, I was traveling eight hours a week to southern West Virginia for an internship. I was there for three days in McDowell County and four days in my hometown of Morgantown. Hot summer evenings in McDowell County were spent sweating over my work, watching Bravo, and swatting mosquitoes and fleas (my hosts’ dogs had fleas). And every weekend, when I stayed at my mother’s house, I showed her my progress. When it was done, over four months later, I couldn’t have been more proud of my work. A shiny blue bicycle with flowers springing from the basket – there was nothing that could better commemorate my summer in West Virginia.