Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quilt of Love

As the weather turns cooler, I snuggle under our new quilt. An instant heirloom, my mum gave it to me on their recent trip to visit us in Berlin. Lovingly crafted with my aunt, it is composed of the ribbons I won showing horses. It's amazing.

If you are unfortunate enough not to have a million ribbons from your childhood, a basic ribbon looks like this:

Blue ribbons usually denote first place with all sorts of colors meaning other placements. Purple ribbons mean High-point (note the many purple in my quilt). I have had dozens of these ribbons adorning the walls of my room since I started showing horses in my early teens.

But don't get me wrong, I wasn't always good. Check out this vintage photo of my horse, Barney, & me (left) with my friend Tara & Doc circa 1995. Believe it or not, Tara was the height of style at that time. Me & Barn...not so much. (And Barney is a respectable horse name! His full name was "Condon's Bar Knot")

But I had lessons (thanks mum & dad!) and I got better. Much better. I won saddles, glasses, belt buckles, crystal, silver stirrups, and many, many ribbons. I started stapling the ribbons to the wall and a few turned into many. I ended up having 2 1/2 walls covered in ribbons with highpoint neck sashes hanging from the ceiling. I LOVED it.

Tolerant parents meant this montage to my horsey accomplishments remained through college, living in Seattle, my first trip to Berlin as an expat, coming back home & getting married, and nearly a year into my second stint as an expat. (yeah, they're great). Finally - they had enough of one room being dedicated the "Erin/Ribbon Room". They re-decorated. But what to do with my boxes of ribbons?

Mum had a genius idea. Completely unbeknownst to me, she went to work on a quilt. She had the idea, and the help of a wonderful sister who could help make it happen. When I did finally recieive the quilt, one of my first questions was - "You sewed this!?" She did. AND she ironed! These are two things, my mum just doesn't (usually) do.

It took two trips to California, working for 5 days, one Aunt Sue, only one major argument (a huge accomplishment in my eyes), a lifetime of ironing, and 99 blocks of 8x8 squares which came from hundreds of ribbons to make this amazing quilt. It's a beauty.

Mum at work
Aunt Sue
Literally hundreds of ribbons cut, ironed, and stitched together
Mum knew just how she wanted it to look
Serious color-coordinating. My mum worked hard to maintain the writing which I am so thankful for. Each show brings back some wonderful memories.
Center Square, complete with pics of my boys: Houston & Barney

The finished quilt is massive!

I always had a version of this on all my 4-H State jackets, but the latest signature now includes a married name. Weird! Thse intitials stand for my name, my horses' names, and our farm name.

"Erin Kelsey Florence Ball Porter
& Condon's Bar Knot
& Houston Texas
at Kelsey Greens Farm"

Kelsey Greens Farm

My AMAZING mum & the Quilt
The quilt also has several interesting details. There is a dedication on the back from my mum & Aunt sue who I can never thank enough for this beautiful gift. A careful picked complimenting border of horse shoes is perfectly horsey and further enhanced by the professional quilter who etched hearts in it. And the pictures of my boys directly on the quilt...I love it. I miss them so much, it is easily one of the worst things about leaving Snohomish. I miss the horses, and the farm, and my horsey friends, and the show environment and winning. An important element in my childhood, I think the best of these times will always hold a place as some of the best times of my life.

This is one of the best gifts I've ever received. It always felt great going home & seeing my room awash in color from the multitude of ribbons plastering the wall. But it could never be permanent. I knew that someday, they would want their room back and all these web covered ribbons would need a place to go. Now I can take them with me, wherever home is. It can be a legacy of all that my boys & I accomplished and more. The ribbons are now more then just markers of placings, they have been given the additional attention of being crafted into a piece of pure, loving art.  More than a quilt made of ribbons, this is our Quilt of Love.

For all the pictures of the epic quilt making, check out the slideshow.


Jan said...

That's gorgeous! You are lucky to have such talented ladies in the family! :-)

Erin said...

Wow, that is a really beautiful piece of work. And how wonderful to spend newlywed (um, child free) years on such adventures!

Frau Dietz said...

What a truly awesome idea, I love it! And how funny - in the UK, first place is a red rosette, and blue's for second. I seem to remember I had far more blue than red ;)

Morgenmuffel said...

What a super special quilt to brighten up your snuggley autumn/winter nights.

Unknown said...

Thanks all! I am lucky lady to have a fabulous family. One of those things that makes being from home a little better...and a little worse.

And that is too funny about the ribbons in the UK. Were you a horsey girl as well Frau Dietz?

shoegirl said...

This is amazing - and so sweet of your family to put in such a massive effort to celebrate your accomplishments! It makes the 'old flannel PJ quilt' I've requested from my mom pale in comparison. ;)

Frau Dietz said...

Oh I'm sorry... I totally missed your question on here - I'm pleased you found me on Twitter to continue the conversation :)

~ cheryl said...

Thank you Eryn for this blog post - - it is a quilt of love and I am so glad Aunt Sue and I were able to make it for you. I hope that you'll always have it to treasure long after I'm gone.

fiona said...

Oh I LOVE your quilt. It's stunning and such a brilliant idea to have come up with. What a lovely gift and I can't even imagine how many hours work!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008