Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Bonnie Gene

A long white box, plastered with twenty four postage stamps arrived yesterday. It had travelled by air and truck and finally car, to arrive at my door. Nestled inside, was my quilt.

In early March, I entered the Wee Quilt Challenge, held annually at McDougall Cottage in Cambridge, Ontario. The theme was Celtic Connections, and each entry had to include plaid fabric. My little quilt travelled there in the spring, and was displayed with other entries.
I had been waiting with baited breath ever since, to see a brochure of the show, to scope out the competition so to speak.
Weeks, and then months passed, and now, my quilt had returned.
When I opened the long, white box, no brochure wafted out. I shook the box and peered into the dark interior. It was just like receiving a parcel from my sister. Never a note, not even a peep. I took my wee quilt to guild that night and showed it off, bemoaning the lack of brochure, or info. on next years challenge.
And then, as is so often the case, when I had finally given up all hope, my longing was satisfied, and a plump envelope arrived the very next day, stuffed with brochures aplenty, and a lovely note as well. These will go to guild next month, so McDougall Cottage will receive double billing as penance for my impatience.
I've read and reread, and I sheepishly admit, read again the little blurbs under each quilt. So amazing. One theme, yet so many ways of interpreting it.

My own wee quilt began in the dead of winter, as I mulled over the idea of my Celtic connection being a genetic one.
I began to sketch and plan. Celtic grandparents appeared on every limb of the family tree, as it branched out into the mists of time. The only exception was my Norwegian grandfather, but everyone knows the Norsemen braved those stormy northern seas around the British Isles.
Choosing photos was more time consuming than I had expected, but was pure joy. Transferring them to fabric was pure grief. I loved appliqueing the center scene, but I gritted my teeth and sweated, appliqueing the pictures around it. The Vancouver Olympics came and went as I toiled on. The deadline loomed and was suddenly upon me. Off went a digital image at the eleventh hour. Would it be accepted, would it, would it..... It would! A little paragraph was composed, and into the mail it went.
And now, like a homing pigeon, it has returned. The judges remarks were kind, although no Wee prize was awarded. Still, my goal was to enter, and enter I did.
I called my quilt Bonnie Gene and sent these words along with it.

A generation ago, the question, "What are your connections?" or the observation that someone was "well connected" referred to family ties. This is what immediately sprang to mind when I read this year's theme. My connection to all things Celtic is more than an admiration of its culture, music or artwork, but is in fact, part of my DNA. Beginning with the idea of an immigration stamp (kindly applied by my daughter's steady hand), photos of five generations of ancestors surround an appliqued wee cottage as do spider web quilting and antique buttons. I'm proud of my bonnie genes!

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