Great teachers. Teenage boys. The Gettysburg Address.  A box of Kleenex. Watch The Address, a new film by Ken Burns.

Big Doings in Greenville

Dear Kay,
We interrupt ongoing coverage of The Washing Of The Soccer Sweater to bring you breaking news:
The quilt has landed.
Close readers of Mason-Dixon Knitting may recall, back in January, I embarked on a plan to make quilts out of the many shirts which had belonged to Hubbo’s late father. This is the story of how it all started.
Well.
When I realized that creating a quilt would put an end to all knit-related activity (and quite possibly a finger or two if I used that rotary cutter thingie), I put out a call for any quilty folks who might be interested in the projeck. A very dear family friend, Dr. Betty Ruth of Point Clear, Alabama, recommended Elmira Sanders, of Greenville, Alabama, as a woman who quilted whenever the fishing wasn’t good.
After about four months of preparatory work (aka going downstairs to the basement), off went all the stripey shirts I could find, along with the copy of Kaffe Fassett’s Passionate Patchwork that my high school friend Julie had sent me. (Still having a pang at sending off that luscious book, but I knew it would meet its destiny in Greenville.)
Well, Elmira beat the Alabama heat this past summer by cutting out zillions of triangles, piecing them, quilting them, and creating this:
elmirafinishedquilt.jpg
Amazing. Here’s another view.
What’s more amazing is that she is now at work on Quilt No. 2. I suggested she use whatever pattern she liked from Passionate Patchwork. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
I don’t know if she realizes just how many more Herb shirts there are. She may end up working on Quilt No. 38 if she keeps this up.
This projeck has been a tender way to reconnect with a dear family friend, to make a new friend, and to find a use for a whole lot of shirts. Thank you to Julie, Betty Ruth, Elmira, and especially to Herb, who loved everything having to do with fambly.
Love,
Ann

Tags:

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. WOW! That quilt is amazing. I’m a knitter who used to quilt. Someday I’ll probably be a quilter who used to know. Or maybe I’ll be a knitter and quilter simultaneously. I have such appreciation for what Elmira did. It’s gorgeous and technically really hard to do (all those quarter square triangles, cut on the bias can get crazy). It’s a very impressive piece of work. Very.
    Thanks for sharing it. Can’t wait to see Nos. 2 through 38.

  2. Interesting, Freudian, slip there. I meant that someday I’d probably be a quilter who used to KNIT. KNIT, not know.

  3. I recall reading your blog when you first wrote about this idea and I thought it was a wonderful tribute to a loved one. Thanks for sharing the continuation of the beautiful story — and the stunning quilt!

  4. gobsmacked.
    i, too, started reading the blog around about the time the shirts came in. so nice to see things coming full circle. lovely.

  5. Absolutely awesome! Isn’t it fun when a projeck turns out even better than you could have ever hoped?
    P.S. If you ever find the Herbshirt Quilts well-worn, there’s a woman here who makes wonderful stuffed animals out of well-loved quilts. She has some of mine that were handpieced by my great great grandma, great grandma, and grandma. I can’t wait to see what she creates with my beloved fambly heirlooms!

  6. Incredible! The mitering and perfect matching of stripes, the various designs made with all that mitering and matching. H.o.l.y.C.o.w. I think I might have a cow.

  7. An incredibly beautiful quilt ! Such patience,such skill and wht a great eye for pattern and balance.
    Fab !

  8. Of course, I’m thinkin’, where does this woman live in Greenville? I might need to send my grandmother over to her house to learn some tricks. My Mother Rose (namesake of my site, natch) is a quilt instructor at the local community center in Greenville. Her quilts CAN be beautiful when she wants them to be. However, lately her color palette’s been a bit wonky. And her choice of fibers has always leaned far toward the polyester end of the spectrum. Still, you must love her.
    But that Elmira? Woooweee, what a quilter! I’m wishing I had me one of ‘em for this winter. Why do I suddenly start writing in the voice of Ellie Mae Clampett when talking about Greenville and quilting? Not sure.

  9. Beautiful. The story, the quilt, the people. All beautiful.

  10. Oh, how beautiful. It’s truly a work of art. I, too started checking into your blog about the time this got underway. It’s just breathtaking. My sister has just undertaken making a quilit out of my dad’s shirts; I can’t wait to show her these pix.
    Wiping away a tear,
    Susan

  11. Awwwwwww. How far is Greenville? Can we stop in and visit Elmira when I’m in town? What an artisan. The matching of the stripes is what gets me. And then the harmony of the placement of the boxes. When Elmira and Kaffe get together, it’s magic. Congrats on your great good fortune in seeing this project through.
    So sorry, I meant ‘projeck’. My bad.
    love, Kay P.S. How long do I have to wait before I can start yapping about my flippin’ soccer ball pullover again? Aren’t y’all dying to know what came out of the washing machine this morning? The suspense is reaching Hitchcockian proportions I’m sure.

  12. stunning! that is simply a work of art. holding lots of memories for all of you. can’t wait to see the others. :)

  13. Oh, Ann…this is wonderful!!!! Tomorrow I shall drive the 140 miles to Greenville with my laptop so my beloved Elmira can see herself and her quilt on the internet!!!!! She loved doing this for you. I have read every comment and have printed them out for her. Thank you, thank you..By the way, I’ll gladly direct traffic to “Elmira in Greenville”!!!!! Love, Betty Ruth

  14. wow…! I am trully gobsmacked. What a super quilt and a wonderful way ro remember Herb. If he was Chinese, he would definitely approve ;-)

  15. Beautiful Quilt. Such an inspiration. And perfect recycling in an age-old tradition.

  16. What a sweet story, and what a stunning quilt! She is definitely a very, very talented quilter. … You are lucky, though, that all his shirts were in coordinating colors! Guess he liked blue!

  17. the quilt is a labor of LOVE, every stitch of the way…..i wonder whether she sewed in her thoughts, her trials and tribulations, her joys, her sorrows, her goals for the future? if only the fabrics could speak!….. true blue-ness…. and so “comforting”….

  18. What a thing of beauty! I too remember the initial postings about the shirts–it is so very cool to see the finished product–and what a story! Really, really beautiful!!!

  19. This is just such a beautiful project and looks amazing. What an inspiring way to have a keepsake of someone close! And I loved the idea of turning the quilt into a stuffed toy later on and so perpetuating the life of it. Can’t wait to see all other incarnations of the shirts!

  20. Ann – I’m gobsmacked by Elmira’s work! The matching of the stripes is impressive beyond words (believe me, I’ve helped my mother-the-perfectionist piece quilts, so I know). What a treasure to have!
    Kay – Yes. I’m dying to know how the soccer ball pullover came out of the washing machine. The suspense is killing me!

  21. What a stunning quilt! Just this weekend I was wondering how it was doing – it’s great to see the finished article. Elmira has made the most beautiful heirloom to remember Herb by. I can’t wait to see the other 37 too!!!!

  22. I am impressed beyond words at that lovely, lovely quilt, and what a beautiful keepsake.
    I have to admit, however, that due to my sloppy reading, before I even scrolled down to see the lovely quilt, I was clicking away trying to find the story of how you were cleaning out your FIL home and found 200 SKIRTS! Oh my, I thought that was going to be a juicy one.
    The real story was nicer, though.

  23. That is one georgeous quilt and one talented quilter. I have been saving my son’s old T-shirts to make a patchwork quilt for him but have not accumulated enough yet. Maybe I should send them to Elmira. and yes, Kay, I wanna know how the soccer sweater came out of the wash. The suspense is killing me.

  24. That woman is an artist and a woman of enourmous personal conviction. I would have run stark raving mad into the streets after mitering the 4th square. Well. Maybe the 5th, but a whole quilt? No way.
    Genius. Artist….incredible.

  25. That quilt is fantastic! I have been wanting to ask about Herbie’s shirts for months, but did not dare, in case it had all turned out in a nightmare! while instead it turned out in a wonderful quilt! so great to see it
    love, ben

  26. dude. seriously. you just made me cry at work.

  27. hi,
    My name is Angie Long. I was born and raised in the Greenville area and was delivered into this world by Betty Ruth Speir’s dad, Dr. Philip, for whom my mother worked as a nurse, These days I write for the LIfestyles Dept. of our local paper, The Greenville Advocate.
    Betty Ruth forwarded the story and photo of Elmira’s STUNNING work – my mother quilts at the senior center in nearby Honoraville and I know what work went into Elmira’s creation. Of course, we want to do a feature story on Elmira, one of our own and showcase her magnificent work. What a lady!
    I’m contacting Betty Ruth for more background info on Elmira but also would appreciate being able to use some quotes from your website about our “big doings in Greenville.” Anything else you would want to add would be welcome.
    All the best,
    Angie Long
    The Greenville Advocate
    angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com

  28. Is……it……….safe……….to………breathe…..yet? My………brain…….is…….unable….to……comprehend……….such………beauty.

  29. Wow! I just saw the quilt. It’s gorgeous, really beautiful –and so fast, too! What talent Elmira Sanders has!

  30. OMG, the Greenville Advocate’s in on this? I’m going to have to git me a subscription. Or tell Mother Rose to save it.

  31. Elmira’s story is being featured in our Wed. edition in the Lifestyles section in the Greenville Advocate…she is pretty excited and Betty Ruth is over the moon! You can check out the article by going to http://www.greenvilleadvocate.com. The photo of her with the striped shirt box quilt won’t be on the website, but you all have seen those anyway…we went to her house and had her do a little “fake sewing” on some of Herb’s shirt pieces for a close up…she is a darling! One of our local treasures without a doubt.
    Angie