Fabric of Memory, Lee Mingwei, 2006

Quilt made by my Grandmother, 1960

Submitted by Gregg Richardson, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Memories and Associations
My maternal Grandmother, Elizabeth Anne Hoffner, was born in rural Indiana in 1900, and moved with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio, as a child. She began working as a seamstress at 13 in a local tailor shop to help her poor family get by, giving up her early dreams of being a concert pianist (she used to play for silent films above the tavern across the street it is still there), and continued performing (necessary) needlecrafts as a wife and mother. After my grandfather died in 1955, grandma moved into the upper floor of an old farmhouse down the street, renting the lower flower, tending her garden, and taking up (unnecessary but satisfying) quilting. Before the end of her frugal life at 93, she had made quilts for her two sisters, three children, and six grandchildren, as well as for friends and church raffles, quilts that often, with her other chores, took her up to a year to complete. She finished this quilt for me in 1971, the year I graduated from college. The blocks are largely floral patterns, and she included an inner border as well as a colored edge. She particularly loved colourful floral designs because they reminded her of her beloved (and well-tended) garden. She quilted into her mid-80s, when her arthritis and poor eyesight forced her, with much regret, to stop. I used this quilt as a bedcover until I left Ohio at the age of 25, but keep it as a memento of the woman who, as much as my parents, raised me, and as a reminder of her values of creativity, carefulness in work, persistence, and generosity.
exit and return