The next layer of the bed is a double-Irish-chain quilt made by my father’s mother, Maud Hersman deGruyter.  Grandmother made all of her own clothes, including the elegant dressmaker suits she wore to church, ladies’ circle, and mother’s club meetings. She made aprons, chair covers, and curtains, andof course had made her children’s clothes, all on a treadle Singer, which she was still using in the 1960s.

I remember afternoons spent at her house, making squares.  The scraps were cut into small standard squares to get the most out of all the pieces.  They were cut carefully on the grain so that they would not pull crooked when they were washed.  My Aunt Iona was famous for being especially good at following a single thread to cut an exact square.  I wasn’t skilled enough to cut squares. But I was allowed to run the needle threaded with string through the center of the squares, making long snakes which kept the matching squares together and were easy to store neatly.

When my grandmother died, there were enough quilts to give one to each of my cousins who hadn’t gotten one already (I was told, but my cousin Fred keeps saying his sister Marg never got one.)  I didn’t get to pick, and didn’t like mine much, because the background of the chains was lavender, and the border was a deeper lavender and bright yellow.  But I could recognize some of the patches as scraps from Grandmother’s wash dresses, and a black and burgundy print that once covered her porch swing cushions.  When I moved into my first apartment, in my last year of college, I used it as my bedspread.  Unfortunately, I was fixated on the lavender, and painted the bedroom walls to match. It was a walkup on 3rd Avenue and 15th Street in Huntington; one bedroom window looked out on an areaway surrounded by taller buildings, and the other on an airshaft.  Lavender just made the permanent twilight gloomier.

When we had moved into our previous house, the bedroom was pale grey, and I liked it, despite the neighbor who looked at it and called it depressing. (But then, he had not lived in the lavender gloom.) I made a black and cream striped chambray duvet cover and one in a black and grey wallpaper stripe with red and yellow cabbage roses.  After 15 years and a new house, I decided we needed a change and brought out the quilt. In a sunny pale blue room, the black and red in many of the squares really pop.

When it cooled off, I brought out the next layer, the feather comforter, but it needed a new cover.  For weeks we slept under a vast puff of white.  I found it distracting, like being under a cloud. Then I found some red Oxford shirting, with narrow yellow, green, and black stripes,  for a duvet cover. Last spring, just because I loved it, I had bought some calico with a black, red, green and yellow geometric floral print, very 1930s, but I had no idea what I would do with it.  It made a pillow cover, with bias piping from the duvet fabric.  I had two red quilted pillow shams picked up years ago for reading pillows, and our small feather camping pillows, with pillowcases of a peach-skin soft cotton with tiny gray flowers, fit right in.

So much to enjoy and reminders to contemplate are built in to just the bed that I haven’t gotten to the point of my original post of last week, mindful homemaking.

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