Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
Earlier this year, the lovely Zina Abbott asked if I would be interested in being part of a historical MAPs that would feature quilts and Christmas. Gosh! As an avid quilter what could be better? Maybe a rugged cowboy? I answered with a very enthusiastic “Yes!”
While history books, almanacs, and memoirs chronicled the West as a man’s world full of adventure and clashes with nature and man, it should be noted women also played a vital role in the migration and taming of the frontier.
Prior to leaving for the journey, female friends in the East came together to stitch a quilt for the departing woman. These “quiltings” became farewell gatherings, united in purpose as well as in friendship. Thus the “friendship quilts”, squares inscribed with names, dates, and heartfelt sentiments became popular.
As preparations continued, the women gathered all the quilts, blankets and tied comforters they could make or acquire. While special quilts were packed in a trunk, or used to wrap fragile keepsakes, everyday quilts were left out for bedding or padding on the wagon seat. When the winds rose up and blew across the dusty plains, quilts were used to cover the cracks that let the dust inside the wagon.
Since most of the women walked alongside the wagon, little quilting was done on the trail. More often the women knitted or mended clothing during the short breaks or occasional layovers. Besides, the poor light of a campfire would not have been conducive to stitching blocks together.
Quilts often reflected the adventures the of the family. “Road to California”, “Crossing the Plains” and “Log Cabin” (my personal favorite!) often indicated memories of home and hearth, the trail looming up before them, or the movement of the wind across the plains.
As the journey continued, quilts were needed for far more serious purposes than simple comfort and dust control. They were hung on the exposed side of the wagons for protection against Indian attacks. Loss of life from sickness and injury was inevitable, and wood for building a coffin was scarce along the trail as well as time-consuming. Wrapping a beloved mother, child or husband in a quilt for burial gave the family comfort knowing that something symbolizing family love enfolded their dear one in that lonely grave along the trail.
Once a pioneer family reached their destination, quilts and blankets were needed to keep the elements out of their windows and doors of log cabins or dugouts. Quilts also gave emotional sustenance as well. Putting a favorite quilt on the bed gave a woman a sense of connection with her former way of life, and something of beauty in her desolate home.
A Swedish woman settled in Kansas in the early 1850s, and recalled an invitation to a sewing circle. Being new to the country and the territory, she took this as an offer of friendship. Pioneer quilting had become an opportunity to express creativity and cultivate friendships in the new land.
Here’s the buy link for Noelle: Noelle – Christmas Quilt Brides
On to the fun stuff….
Today is release day for Noelle – Christmas Quilt Brides, Book 8. If you’d like to read an excerpt, PLEASE CLICK HERE
***** Giveaway *****
Jo-Ann will be giving away two ebook copies of Noelle. For a chance to win one, leave a comment about the type of crafting you enjoy most ( quilting, knitting, sewing, cake decorating, wreathing-making, etc.). If you’re not a crafter, what crafty skill to admire most in others?
Many thanks to the P&P authors for extending an invitation to their blog. I love sharing my love of the West and sweet historical romance!