Every Quilt Tells a Story: A Quilter’s Stash of Wit and Wisdom
Reviewed: December 19, 2003
By: Helen Kelly
Publisher: Whitecap Books
224 pages, $22.95
Until I moved west my only acquaintance with quilts was of the
patchwork variety that by Grandmother and Mother made. Fancy designs and
patterns were quite foreign to my experience and it took me quite a while
to realize that quilts were more than just a way to use up surplus fabric
or superannuated clothing.
Helen Kelly is a quilter. According to the promotional material
accompanying this book, she is the “Erma Brombek” of quilters. This seems
to mean that her regular column in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine is a compendium
of bits and pieces about her obsession and the many other people who share
it. Appropriately, she calls it “Loose Threads”.
This book collects some seventy short pieces that she has written
about “Q-People”, as she calls them, or the Quilting Life, as she might call
it. The result is a combination of memoir, anecdote, theory and wry observation,
all of which suggests that the quilter’s way of looking at the world might
be a useful thing to cultivate.
I haven’t read all of this book, just eight or ten pieces, but
each one has been an enjoyable little peek into a world I don’t know much
about. Kelly has a clever style and she manages to combine her interests
in an amusing and enlightening way.
The very first item in the book is “Kelly’s Laws for Quilters”
and it sets the tone nicely. The rules are all cast in the form of being
about quilting,, but this sample will show you that they cold apply to many
First Law - The woman in the line ahead of you at the store will
buy the last half yard of the fabric your wanted.
Fourth Law - The quilt book you put in a safe place for quick
reference will be lost forever.
Ninth Law - The distance a spool of thread will roll under the
quilting frame is equal to the length of your arm plus one inch.
I know just the person for whom this will make a nice gift. You
probably do, too.