Originally, the Crafters met through our work in public schools and special education. In 1979, four or five members got together, ostensibly to carve out a little time to work on handwork and to chat. I knew several of the women from my first three years of teaching and joined them in 1983, when we moved back to Lincoln from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Once a month, we gather in each other's homes with no agenda other than to enjoy being together. The only rule I can ever remember is, if one gets new carpet they are excused from cleaning house. Now days we don't worry too much about cleaning house or new carpet. Dessert is still important. For a good number of years, we were twelve. Now we have two empty chairs. One woman moved out of state and the oldest passed away. We miss them but their blocks are in this quilt.
Everyone brings or doesn't bring their own projects to craft. In the earliest years, counted cross stitch was the rage. Several of us discovered quilting and others knit. Over the years, my friends have stitched, mended, hemmed, quilted, knitted, clipped coupons, sorted through photos, and cleaned out their purses. Now days three or four of us may be working on something. More important is the friendship stitched together through the years. When we began, we talked of our babies and sleepless nights. We commiserated over divorce and teenagers. Then the children grew up and we danced at their weddings. One by one we have lost parents and other loved ones. These days we celebrate grandchildren and new parts via joint replacement surgery. Lately we toasted a bride at her happy second marriage. When I hosted the Crafters in October, we picked up exactly where we left off in September.
Some ten or thirteen years ago, the Crafters set out to make Friendship Quilts, exchanging blocks and helping each other along the way. I honestly can't remember the year we began this quilt. I do remember the times friends from both the Book Group and the Crafters have showed up at my door with a hug and dinner in a picnic basket. They never blinked an eye at the dust in the living room, laundry on the couch, or the sticky kitchen floor. They understood I'd spent a long few days at the hospital with my husband or that I'd just seen my father or mother to the end of his or her life. Books come and go and quilts may be folded away but the friendships remain. They are as rich as deep reds and golds on an autumn day.