This October, in the spirit of the season, we offer you spooky stories as only quilters could appreciate. The name for this collection of ghoulish tales is Night Stitches.
A project is included with each story. Here’s this week’s pattern:
The Gingham Ghost Guild Meets Again
by Emily Cross and Betsey Langford
“I found a special treasure this past weekend while cleaning out an old closet,” said Judy as Mildred and Barbara lowered the quilt frames to begin the day’s work. “I thought I’d lost it, but there it was in the bottom of a hat box.”
“What did she find?” Mary asked Peg, the nearest guild member.
“She hasn’t said yet.”
“A what?” Mary asked, louder.
“Seems Mary forgot her hearing aids today,” said Gladys.
“I can’t forget them because I don’t need them,” Mary said tartly.
Barbara laughed. “Being able to hear everything everyone says about you doesn’t count as hearing.”
“For heaven’s sake,” said Fay. “Judy, what is it?”
Judy turned out her sweatshirt pocket, unearthing a few crumpled tissues before finding her treasure. “My mother’s thimble.” She held the thimble aloft on her pointer finger so Mary and the rest could see.
The light caught the recently polished sterling silver and accented the red glass top. A decorative border pattern circled the wide rim, fitting snug at the tip of Judy’s finger.
“You can’t quilt with that, now can you?” said Mary.
“Mother had such small hands, I couldn’t dream of wearing this. But I wanted to bring it to show you all. Some of you will remember my mother. Dorothy.”
“Sure, and I’d never forget that glass-topped thimble. I’d never seen one like it before I quilted with her,” said Fay.
“Gals, let’s gather ‘round and begin today’s work. We can all get a closer look once we’re going,” said Grace, beckoning the guild members to the quilt frames.
Judy passed the thimble around and it made its way through the quilters until it came to rest beside Judy as she worked.
“About time she found it,” said Dorothy. “Her daddy got me that thimble for our 25th anniversary.”
“It’s beautiful. I remember those tiny stitches you put in so many quilts with it. You two were quite the pair.” Geraldine floated around the quilt frames, brushing her hand over the surface of the quilt, remembering.
“Everything is the same. It’s just like when we all gathered together around these very same frames.” Frances turned upside down to float under the quilt. After a quick inspection of the underneath she popped out the other end. “Beautiful stitches.”
“Not everything is the same. What is this contraption?” Ruth pointed at a rotary cutter sitting on its mat.
“Gracious, looks dangerous,” said Dorothy.
“I imagine it is for food, someone must have brought it from the kitchen.” Geraldine speculated.
Barbara walked through Geraldine to pick up the rotary cutter, moving to the cutting table to size blocks.
“Well jumping jack rabbits, have you ever seen the likes?” Frances whistled with delight. “It cuts fabric so easily.”
The ladies gathered around Barbara, enraptured with her block trimming.
“Don’t that beat all. If I had one of those I could have made 200 quilts,” Ruth quipped.
“Did you see this quilt?” Dorothy floated along the ceiling taking in the quilt in the frame. The ladies joined her.
“The fabrics look like they came straight out of a catalog. Every one of them matches.”
“Maybe the whole family had matching outfits,” Geraldine mused.
Ruth drifted down from the admiring crowd, as if pulled towards Mary working on the quilt below. Mary’s knobbed fingers sped over the fabric, flicking and pushing the silverquick needle through the quilt layers, leaving a patch of even stitches in her wake.
Frances joined Ruth, placing a hand on her shoulder, but watching Mary quilt. “How long have you been apart?”
“It must be nearly thirty years. She hated to come to quilt guild, then.” Ruth smiled, wistful. “Guess that changed.”
Frances chuckled. “My Peg didn’t even quilt before I had to leave. Good thing I left her so many unfinished quilts to get a start on!”
Geraldine and the rest settled around the frame, tucked between busy quilters.
“There are lots of new faces since I was guild president,” said Geraldine.
“And a few familiar faces,” said Dorothy, looking over Fay’s shoulder at her speedy work. “Remember when Fay first started? That woman was slower than the line outta hell.”
“Ready to roll, ladies?” Fay boomed.
She was met with a few grumbles, but soon the quilters worked in unison to roll their latest work in to get at the next section. The quilt swayed on the ropes as it settled, and the movement sent Dorothy’s thimble rolling off the quilt and tinking across the floor.
Both guilds alike turned at the noise, watching the thimble’s clattering progress until finally it stopped under a chair.
“Oh, help me look for mother’s thimble,” cried Judy.
“It went to your side. Help her,” said Grace.
Dorothy bent low and all her friends watched with wide eyes as she managed to pick up the thimble and place it in front of her daughter. Dorothy kissed the top of Judy’s head.
“I told you I wouldn’t always be here to pick up for you, but what does one more time hurt?”
Geraldine studied the shocked faces of the quilters. “Time to go, gals. We’ve left our guild in good hands.”