A Page from My Book: Journal Quilts 2002-Journal Quilt Project

One hundred fifty seven members of the QuiltArt mailing list participated in a challenge to make one quilt a month for nine months. The only requirement was the 8 1/2" x 11" size. The quilts formed a special exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, in November, 2002.

Transitions: a Love Story

Click here to see a larger image and detail of the quilts.


These are not the journal quilts I intended to make. They are not ones I wanted to make, but like life, they happened. I had planned to take a segment of my hand dyes each month and use that as the starting point for designing. January was to be called "Frost Flowers". That fabric is in my stash somewhere…

However, my husband has Parkinson's Disease and is in a nursing home. In January his health began to decline rapidly. Between that, income tax and dealing with Medicaid, journal quilts were a very low priority. Late in March, however, I did find time to select a batik and marked 7 segments I wanted to use. My sister came from Iowa and we spent an afternoon discussing the imagery in those sections. Where I was seeing flowers, she saw koalas!

My husband has been gravely ill, and the staff has checked to be sure they understand his Living Will provisions correctly. I have not taken the time to get him another rose bush for his 79th birthday this year.

I decide to get at least one journal quilt worked on before the first deadline. As I look for thread to match the batik, another fabric grabs me and in two hours I have four little quilts completed, ready for binding.

Now I can think about what I have just done… Roses for almost 49 years of ministry together, increasing fragmentation and darkness for what has been happening. I will add the gold braid and butterfly to April's quilt when the time comes.

My husband has rallied; April's quilt is still unfinished. May's quilt is a transition quilt. Roses for the time we still have, batik for my healing, already begun. The back side of this is more intriguing than the front…

I take my husband a cluster of his favorite red roses for our 49th anniversary... and ponder the back side of this quilt also. I need to be preparing new classes for Quilt University, but that, too, can wait. Hmm… perhaps some of this can be incorporated into a new class...

Another bad spell. I watched his face change and his breathing stop, but he has rallied again. There was more for this quilt-but it says "This is enough."

I've added a piece of organza to this one. I'm not satisfied. Still more to be learned…
My husband is completely helpless now, but he can still joke with his nurses, argue with me, and his "Mr. Fix-it" instincts are still intact. (That is what we argue about…) We are still waiting for the next chapter of our lives, but we are content. I wonder why I wrote that last phrase, and then realize it is true…

This is another transition quilt. There are still flowers, but different ones now. The batik was the inspiration for the thread painting (which I had never done before.) This one feels unfinished until I add the butterfly. I think I must do more of these…

"Where we see death, God sees butterflies."

In Memoriam

Clair Walter Kerns

Just a few days after I had written this summary to go with the quilts to Houston, I found a small book on a bargain table entitled The Way of Transition. I still haven't finished reading it but this is what I remember. (I've already loaned it so can't quote exactly.)

Change always happens and change always means a transition. Transition is the process of letting the past become the past and embracing the opportunities and possibilities of the future.

Coincidence? Perhaps--perhaps not....

August 2004--There is more to this story. I just attended a story telling workshop in which we were to take a Parable and prepare it for retelling. The only parable that wanted me to tell it was the one Jesus told about the woman who had lost a valuable coin, and after tearing her house apart, called in friends who helped her find it. There was great rejoicing.

I thought this story might be appealing to me because I had been hunting for some things I had misplaced. But there was a much deeper meaning waiting for me as I worked with it. I tell this part too when I share these quilts and I offer it here for anyone who might need it.

"Joy is always waiting on the other side of loss."

Detail images   Back to Quilt page    Home