24 June, 2016

No Time

I just finished this book. To be perfectly honest, I now will feel guilty whenever I DO have time on my hands! Originally published in 1963 when the subject was eighty years of age, this is the autobiography of an amazing woman, Grace McCance Snyder, who grew up as part of a homesteading family in the high plains of Nebraska in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Grace was one of nine children.  The stories are written and chronicled by her daughter, Nellie, as dictated by her mother.   Grace, from a child of seven years, old dreamed three dreams and wished three wishes: "I wished that I might grow up to make the most beautiful quilts in the world, to marry a cowboy and  to look down on the top of a cloud."
Suffice it to say, as noted by the photograph on the cover of the book, at least one of Grace's wishes did come true! Grace's Petit Point quilt (above) drew wide acclaim at national expositions in the 1940s. About this quilt, composed of 87,789 pieces, Grace explains: "I pieced the Petit Point quilt during the second World War, from a lovely flower basket design I found on a china plate. I made it of triangle shaped pieces so small that eight of them, sewed together, made a "block" no larger than a two cent postage stamp.  The effect is more like needlepoint embroidery than patchwork quilt piecing. I was sixteen months making the quilt, and I used 5,400 yards of thread in the sewing."  The International Quilt Study Center and Museum at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln featured her quilts in an exhibition back in 2009, the gallery can be viewed here.

"At the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln, one September, I had the pleasure of seeing eighteen of my quilts hung in a long row in the Fine Arts building. (The nineteenth, an original grapevine design, was in a showcase under the purple sweepstakes ribbon.)  A card at the head of the line explained that all eighteen had been made by one woman. Men and women read the card, then shook their heads and asked, "How did one woman ever find time to make them all?"

While there is so much to be learned about and from Grace's quilts, the book spends precious little time on the quilts and their significance; they really only are mentioned near the end of the book. This is a story of survival; of the trials, hardships and ultimate victories encountered along life's way as witnessed, and experienced by a young girl born in Nebraska in 1882. The historical perspective alone makes this book a treasure; but I loved it for so many more reasons, if you haven't read it I highly recommend it, Grace's life story is a compelling one.

"One man was looking at the "Pilgrim" block in the United States History quilt when his wife asked the usual question. "Because she  started in 1620, I guess," he told her. Others decided it was because "she didn't have anything else to do."  At the time I made all my quilts in that display, I was still living on the ranch, baking our bread, churning our butter, making my own soap, and raising a big garden every summer, not to mention all the time I spent plowing our roads every time I left our ranch."

You may never regard "time on your hands" in the same way again.
I know that I won't.
Life is Good!


Janet O. said...

Wow--just WOW!!

cityquilter grace said...

got up early this am and got several tasks done...now after reading this, see that i am nothing more than a slug...LOL...but thankfully the day is young!