Pinke Post: Quilting together experiences
WISHEK, N.D. -- A few years ago, a friend of mine opened a quilt shop, Rumpelquiltskin, in our small town. Kari took a risk but it was her dream. I admired her pursuit of her passion. I don't quilt, so Kari has used her talents to bless our famil...
WISHEK, N.D. - A few years ago, a friend of mine opened a quilt shop, Rumpelquiltskin, in our small town. Kari took a risk but it was her dream. I admired her pursuit of her passion. I don’t quilt, so Kari has used her talents to bless our family on a couple of occasions.
Our daughter Elizabeth received a sewing machine at Christmas from her aunt. She immediately signed up to attend a class at Rumpelquiltskin where she made her first pair of mittens and an ear warmer. Kari also led a 4-H demonstration at a Cloverbuds meeting. She walked the kids through making rice-filled flannel hand warmers.
This winter, when I cleaned out our son Hunter’s closet I found the bags of T-shirts I had been saving through the years to make a T-shirt quilt. I texted a picture of the old T-shirts to Kari and delivered them to her the next day.
Kari started brainstorming ideas and drawing inspiration from Pinterest (an online pin board) for T-shirt quilts. When we met for coffee a few days later, she presented several quilt layout options that organized the 40-plus T-shirts. We decided on a design, and she got started. She sent me a few updates during the process, but I wasn’t worried about the outcome because she’s a talented quilter and seamstress.
A couple weeks ago, Kari texted to say the quilt was finished. She asked if she could deliver the quilt when Hunter was home because she wanted to witness his reaction. The quilt is our graduation gift to him.
Kari walked into our living room and her young daughters scattered to play with our daughters. She then unfolded a masterpiece.
Kari’s quilting and stitching made years of T-shirts come together. The quilt includes several T-shirts from Hunter’s basketball tournaments when he played with brothers Zachary and Connor who were killed in a car accident this past June. Kari stitched their names and initials into one t-shirt, bringing Hunter to tears.
I’m not much of a sentimental saver, but I’m glad I saved the T-shirts. The T-shirts represent experiences. My husband, Nathan, and I have focused on giving our kids experiences over stuff. They still have too much stuff, but we’ve made the choice to forego the latest and greatest fill in the blank over a trip to Minneapolis for a basketball tournament or a summer camp. In order to be afforded these experiences, Hunter had to maintain his 4.0 GPA, which we knew he was capable of doing but he needed some inspiration. Because of his work ethic, Hunter was rewarded with the experiences, not just at home but through the school music concert, piano recital, state speech contest, state music competition and track meets he’s participating in this spring with upcoming football and basketball games this summer.
Life is full of experiences, but do we ever think about how each T-shirt represents the moments and memories? I didn’t. The T-shirts are cotton, a U.S.-grown GMO crop, I might add. Cotton with a logo and words. Rather than collect a musty scent from being bagged up in a closet, the quilt binds them together to document a life lived through rich and diverse experiences.
By supporting Rumpelquilskin I was reminded again about the importance of local businesses. I don’t have to be a quilter, although I imagine being a quilting grandma many, many years from now. For now, I’ll focus on being a mom, helping my kids find their paths and foster new experiences.
What about my girls’ T-shirts? You better believe I’m stashing them away in a garbage bag in their closet, labeled “save,” when they outgrow them. In 2026 and 2028, I hope Kari and Rumpelquilskin are still around to add her special touches to my girls’ graduation quilts.
This month, Kari’s T-shirt quilt work of art will hang at Hunter’s graduation party as a symbol of all the experiences life has brought him thus far. There are new experiences around the bend in a new life chapter for him.