The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
Quilts: Your Way
When you look for quilts, the world looks for
you, too. Photo: Wikipedia.This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting the state of Tennessee to interview various quilters about their lives, their work, and, of course, their passion for quilts.
As any dutiful writer should, I did a good deal
of research before my trip began. And while I certainly read up on my subjects, I spent time learning about the region too. I wanted to have context for these people’s lives, after all, so into the internet — and some actual books! — I went.
One night, as I was sitting on my couch with my laptop (and a glass of wine), I realized that I was sitting on my couch with my laptop (and a glass of wine) reading about Tennessee state history. Really? It kind of surprised me that I was voluntarily reading about a state I don’t have much of a direct connection to, but what was more surprising … is that I was completely engrossed.
When did I become a ravenous geek for all things American history?
The answer: When I began to look deeply into American quilt history. Because the history of the American quilt is the history of our entire country, which makes it a way “in” to all the things you ever wanted to know — or forgot — about who we are as a nation. A lot of times, at least in my case, I never learned some of this stuff in the first place and didn’t know I totally want to know.
For example, here are a few things I learned about the state of Tennessee because I was preparing to interview a quilter. You’ll see that some of the stuff is really wonderful and some of it is less wonderful, but it’s history, regardless, and history is worth reading about…on your couch.
With a glass of wine.
Who knew that when I started researching quilt blocks from women’s magazines in the 1880s, I’d end up learning about Tennessee history? Image: Wikipedia.
A photo c. 1864 of Lu La Lake at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Image: Wikipedia.