I’ve never been a very crafty person. I admire the skills others have, but have rarely found the patience or talent necessary to create something pretty, handy or artsy.
Trust me, I’ve tried.
When I was a kid, I was surrounded by the finer arts. Several of my aunts quilted, my mom did cross-stitching and with a hope I would carry on the tradition, they tried to teach me.
I completed only a few projects — a cross-stitch project, a pillow case — but nothing worth bragging about.
My relatives and teachers struggled to keep me planted in one spot long enough to learn something. I would have rather
been outside playing tag, chasing my brother and his friends around the yard or throwing a ball around. Yet at the same time, I wanted desperately to be a part of the family tradition of art.
I’ve been to many quilt shows and I’ve heard many conversations about quilts being restored from days gone by. I like that about quilts. They are practical in that they can keep you warm, but they are also a keepsake. They are made to mark special occasions like weddings and the birth of children. They can be made from special items as well — baby clothes, a wedding dress and even your favorite blue jeans.
A couple of years ago, my aunt turned a collection of my husband’s T-shirts into an amazing quilt.
While I was in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving this year and she was there visiting as well, I off-loaded more than a dozen of my own T-shirts to turn into a blanket of memories.
They were all shirts I wore when I played softball at Northwestern, or ones my parents bought to support me and the team. They include championship T-shirts marking all of our accomplishments on the field as well as our practice shirts, which are more worn and recall a different kind of accomplishment.
There are literally blood, sweat and tears soaked into many of those shirts. Although they have since been washed, I can’t shake the recollection of those days.
I went to the fabric store with my aunt over the holidays to buy some of the materials for the project. Northwestern’s color was purple, so we found some purple flannel to line the back of the quilt. We wanted to make sure it would keep me warm in Wyoming’s winter months.
And while the fabric is sure to do just that, I think the memories will warm my heart more than any number of layers ever could.
The late-night bus rides, team dinners, victories and defeats will forever be a part of who I am. I wasn’t the best athlete, or the worst, but I was a part of a team.