Multi-colored butterflies lay spread across an ivory fabric background, each one contained in lavender squares. They are quilted in place by slender fingers to keep them from flying away. In one corner these same fingers wrote on the cloth with a fabric pen, “To Jennifer, From Grandma, 1985”. I was ten years old. Old enough to know that this was a special gift, one to be treasured as a future heirloom. The stitches are tiny and uneven in that imperfect way that lets you know this quilt was made by human hand and not machine.
My other grandmother asked what color afghan I’d like her to make me for Christmas. I told her I liked green. She made all of us afghans that year. I can see her crochet needle flicking in and out, using maneuvers I could never master. I’ve tried to replicated the even stitches of yarn, weaving and winding around the needle and pulling through over and over again to create something useful. A sweater, mittens, even a scarf. But I lack the patience to learn properly.
I have several comforters and blankets in the closet bought at Target or Walmart. Even so, I always reach for my green afghan to tuck around my knees and under my feet while reading on the couch. And I grasp at the purple and ivory butterfly quilt to pull beneath my chin before sleep comes. They keep me warmer and feel softer on my skin than the others.
My grandmothers made them. Just for me.