Anchors Away, a memorial quilt

It’s January 11, 2015 and we are saying goodbye to our father. We did so on a foggy, calm morning from Billy Bones Bay on Protection Island. He was a mariner all his life and it was a fitting way to say goodbye as he headed to the “Unknown Shore.” (Poem by Elizabeth Clark Hardy.)

As we cleaned out Dad’s closet, we picked out shirts to go into a memorial quilt for Mom. There was no timeline or pattern. Just a gathering of shirts for when it was time. I’ve made a few memorial quilts over the past few years and the timing needs to be right when you decide to go ahead with a project. For some it takes much longer to be able to sort through a loved ones belongings. There should never be any pressure to deal right away.

Sometime later in January 2015, while house sitting an oceanfront home, I cut Dad’s shirts into 6 1/2″ squares, cut off all the buttons and filed them away. I still did not have a pattern in mind but having the squares cut would dictate what I could and couldn’t do in regards to a design.

It’s now September 2016 and time to begin. I had decided that we would do a Trip Around the World pattern. At our 14th annual quilt retreat in Pt Roberts Pat and I began sewing the blocks together and before we knew it we had a twin size flimsy. The four light squares in the center of the quilt belonged to a shirt of his brother Bill who passed away in 1994. There are 3 pockets in this quilt as Dad loved to load his pockets with pens, glasses, work book, etc. The last shirt he wore is included too. After explaining to the memorial home staff why I wanted the shirt they quit looking at me like I’d lost my mind. :) Don’t be afraid to have what you want in your quilt.

We weren’t too sure if we could have it quilted by Christmas as Joan had been doing the Frances Camino and was away from early September to October 31st…there were a few customer quilts waiting in line.

Joan and I had talked about wanting a wool batting and something nautical for the pantograph. She chose this Anchors Away panto and green thread as that was Dad’s favourite colour. And as luck would have it she was able to get to the quilting on the 19th of December and I was able to get it bound and delivered to Pat by December 22nd. ¬†We would give it to Mom on Christmas night.

Needless to say there were a few tears. We had Joan on speaker phone so she could participate too. When the grandchildren (our great nieces/nephew) saw it they asked if we could make them a quilt too. It was and will always be treasured. Our brother Mark was amazed just hearing about it and wondered if the story could be preserved…he learned that’s where a label comes in. I’ll make one on the computer that tells the story of Anchors Away. (No, I did not get it done in time for Christmas :) )

There are enough squares left over for either pillows or another quilt top. Guess I’ll leave that up to Pat to decide as I had her take them.

Here’s to more amazing quilts in 2017!

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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