The Ties, Needles & Threads quilting guild on Tuesday, Oct. 18, will welcome a special guest to its monthly meeting.
Author Phyllis Lawson will discuss “Quilt of Souls,” a memoir exploring her childhood and the rich history contained within each patch of her grandmother’s quilt.
Lawson, a Detroit native, moved at age 4 to the tiny town of Livingston, Ala., to live with her grandmother Lula Horn. According to Lawson’s biography, her grandmother “made beautiful quilts out of the clothing of her loved ones ... each fabric tells the story of the wearer’s life and death.” “Quilt of Souls” explores the stories Lawson’s grandmother shared with her as a child.
Lawson began work on the memoir following her retirement from the military, and “Quilt of Souls” was released on March 13, 2013. Since its release, Lawson has been interviewed and appeared in more than 40 media outlets, from online newspapers to social media forums to television and radio.
“‘Quilt of Souls’ is a book the world needs to have,” Lawson writes in her synopsis. “It is more than a personal memoir; it is a historical unveiling of hushed bloodlines and stories of a time and place that got swept under the carpet — powerful, intense, poignant stories that need to be heard.”
Lawson goes on to describe the quilt sewn by her grandmother as the miracle she needed as a child: “an old tattered quilt (a family heirloom) that my grandmother made out of clothing of long-lost loved ones who died in the face of extreme bigotry, racism and ugliness that were pervasive to that time.”
After reading a few articles in St. Louis-based newspapers about Lawson’s recent appearance at Left Bank Books, quilting guild Vice President Linda Walker researched Lawson’s history and embarked on an email correspondence.
“‘Quilt of Souls’ had a personal effect on me,” Walker says. “I have a big interest in the time of slavery and the way that black people were treated. I think that the book will hold a lot of interest to guild members with its focus on history.”
The guild formed in 1995, when several of its original members began meeting at a local quilt shop.
“They would meet up to do various things at those first meetings, and the guild’s been going strong ever since,” Walker says.
Walker emphasizes the guild is a nonprofit organization not only focused on quilting, but a number of needle arts — such as tatting, knitting and crocheting. The guild is, as Walker says, “not just a group of quilters, per se.”
Lawson’s upcoming role as guest speaker plays into the tradition created by the guild over the past two decades.
“Every month, we feature a speaker of some nature followed by a business meeting, refreshments and show-and-tell,” Walker says.
Speakers hail from diverse backgrounds, threaded together by a singular creative interest.
“This past January, one of the guild members talked about the history of the log cabin block,” Walker says.
The Oct. 18 meeting is open to anyone with an interest in needle art and a complex chapter in U.S. history, with a book sale and signing following Lawson’s presentation.
The guild’s approximately 50 members meet the third Tuesday of every month at the Senior Community Center in Glen Carbon, 157 N. Main St. For more information, contact Linda Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 830-2641 after 5 p.m.