A RETURN TO A FIRST LOVE
Harriett fell in love with quilts when she was a young girl. Most of the women in the family were quilters, usually creating them from scraps of old clothing and using them to keep warm. To make the work go more quickly and to enjoy conversation with neighbors or relatives, they had quilting bees. The frames were kept at the ready (suspended from a ceiling to be lowered when in use), and a group would spent a morning talking, laughing and quilting.
Her Uncle Jim lived several miles away in the old Cate family home with two of his unmarried sisters. As a young teenager, Harriett would offer to go spend a week with the two aunts. She was always a bit homesick there but wanted to show them some love and attention. Aunt ‘Tine was her favorite and she made beautiful quilts, which she kept neatly wrapped up in a large hope chest. When no beau came to claim her, she just kept accumulating quilts. As a treat, Harriett would always beg her to show her all the quilts. It was the highlight of her visit as Aunt ‘Tine pulled them out one at a time to display on a bed. Harriett admired the patterns, the fabric colors and the tiny stitching and was hard pressed to pick a favorite. She always dreamed that someday—to reward her for those dutiful summer visits—Aunt ‘Tine would give her one of the quilts. When she and Robert were married, there was no quilt from Aunt ‘Tine—but a few years later, when her sister Della married, Aunt ‘Tine gave her one of her fine quilts! She never went to visit and didn’t even appreciate quilts, Harriett said. A great disappointment.
In her late 70’s, Harriett decided to take up quilting again. She set up a collapsible quilting frame in my old bedroom and set to work. She’d collected cotton pieces or scraps from hundreds of dresses she’d made over the years that she could use in piecing her quilts. One of her favorite quilt patterns was the Double Wedding Ring. In the photo of her quilting she was finishing up another favorite, the Lone Star pattern. She set a goal for herself of piecing and quilting double bed sized quilts for all the family—for me, Heather and Patrick, Emily and Katie, and all the Eaves children and grandchildren. So many of them contain fabrics from dresses she made for herself, Heather or me. Others were made from new fabrics she selected. Her color choices were always beautiful. Unlike her Aunt ‘Tine, she was extremely generous with the quilts she made!