“I make my quilts thick to keep my family warm. I make them beautiful to keep my heart from breaking.” Prairie Woman, 1870
My friend Nandy is an artist, not a quilter like I am, but when she noticed this book somewhere, she very kindly sent me one! It was a wonderful gift. This incredible book speaks to the healing power of quilts and quilt making and to the deep connection that exists between art and health. I’ve taken time to read it slowly and carefully, admiring the many beautiful photos of quilts and descriptions of amazing quilt projects. If there is a quilter in your life, take note.
This book is a compilation of pictures and stories and presents evidence and many varied poignant testimonies to the fact that having and giving and making and using and just being around quilts is healing. Quilting involves creativity and math and puzzles and precision and clever use of colour and pattern, but also involves patience with many countless hours of sewing and handwork. Quilters do find all of that therapeutic. There are many types of quilts and endless techniques that quilters learn and use. But this is not a how-to-quilt book. It researches and celebrates the connection between quilts and health. Name an illness, medical condition, or disease and you will find quilt making associated with it.
The book covers charity quilting, the joy of quilting in groups, quilting for specific causes, the healing power of sewing that quilters experience after or during treatment for an illness, but also the tremendous comfort in receiving a quilt as a gift and feeling the love that went into each and every stitch. “Those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love.”
I was delighted when my friend Alice sent me this picture of a quilt hanging on the wall which she noticed on a walk-about at Toronto General Hospital. I wasn’t delighted that she had to be admitted there, and she is fine now, but it was a great example of how quilts are often found in places of healing and medical care. The inscription reads, “Thank you to the wonderful nurses of 6B West, Head and Neck Unit, TGH.”
“Common themes–or threads if you will–throughout this book have been the critical role that beauty, creative expression, and a sense of worth, belonging, purpose and community can play in achieving optimal health and quality of life.”