In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too)
those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively
have prevailed.

[Charles Darwin]

My two grandmothers (Katherine and Gertrude) were friends. During the 1930s, they quilted together weekly at the same little Methodist church in Peru, Kansas. Katherine had the reputation of being the finest needle woman in the county.

In her later years, Katherine’s mind drifted away, and her weekly quilting skills became less and less adept. Afraid that people would start to notice Katherine’s decline, Gertrude stayed after the quilting bee each week, picked out her friend’s stitches and resewed that portion.

I cherish the quilts that are products of my grandmothers’ loving collaboration. It wasn’t until I was older myself that I studied the quilt and said to mama, “From the style of stitches, I’d say this looks like it was quilted by mostly one person.” That’s when mama told me about Gertrude’s lone, loving quilting sessions. For me, that makes this a true friendship quilt.

I was inspired to write about collaboration after reading Janet Riehl’s interviews on Riehl Life.