Thinking About Goals — 2117

Maybe *over*thinking about goals? The other day I posted about goals — not that I got around to defining any! But I did look at a couple of ways one might develop quilt-making goals. One question was from Lori at the Inbox Jaunt. She asked

Imagine it’s the year 2117--and a family member has just inherited a trunk of your quilts.

What will YOUR quilts say about YOU?

Do they say what YOU want them to say?

It’s a great question about legacy and how we want to be remembered. By extension, it prods us to consider whether we are making the quilts that will create the heritage we wish. If not, why not? Should we change (or set) goals for our quilting?

After chewing on this for a while, I realized that I don’t care what people a hundred years from now think about me, or about my quilts. My quilts serve three purposes:

  1. expressions of creativity
  2. expressions of love
  3. expressions of compassion.

The three purposes overlap, but depending on the quilt, the priority differs. All three are immediate needs for me —  I need to express myself. Quilts made from love and compassion, however, may have a different duration of impact. And that depends on the receiver more than it does on me.

I’ll never know most of the people who receive my “compassion” or donation quilts. I hope the owners feel the warmth of the “blanket” as well as the intention. And I hope the quilts are loved, used, and washed until they are used up.

My wishes are the same for the quilts I make for those I love. I hope the quilts are used, preferably for comfort or warmth, or for decoration. (I’d rather not know about quilts used to protect furniture while moving, or to coddle a dog giving birth, or to soak up oil on the garage floor…)

The quilt below was a wedding quilt given a few years ago to friends. It hangs on their living room wall. We visit often enough that I can still enjoy it, and they boast of how it can be seen from the street, as well as inside.


What legacy do I want to leave with my quilts? I hope that when I die, my loved ones will tell stories about my quilts and my quilting. Stories like how I took over our son’s bedroom for studio space while he was in college (and how he still hasn’t gotten over that, several years later!) Stories about a granddaughter working on a little brother’s quilt with me. Stories about the round robins my sister and I did. Stories about how a daughter and I got each other the same quilting book one year, a book long out of print and wildly expensive. I hope they will share the quilts I made with others, and I hope there are no pristine, never-used quilts of mine to discover one hundred years from now.

24 thoughts on “Thinking About Goals — 2117

  1. Pingback: Creative Juice #26 | ARHtistic License

  2. Alice Samuel's Quilt co.

    I actually needed to read this! I mean I am not thinking so far ahead as to the legacy of my quilts but I hope that for as long as I quilt, I will always find joy in doing it and that when I’m gone, others can feel this joy and perhaps find meaning in my work. I like your stories with your daughter and granddaughter…That’s all that counts at the end of the day.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I have not always found my quilting joyful. Sometimes it’s been painful or sorrowful. I can still remember when I cried the first time on completing a quilt top. (It hasn’t happened again, but I figure some day it will, a second time or more…) I still have to make an effort to find pleasure in a few of my quilts, because of concerns while I made them, or difficulties afterwards. But whether they were joyful or not, they were meaningful, both at the time and in the lessons learned. I guess that is a gift to me.

  3. snarkyquilter

    I imagine future viewers of my quilts saying, “what was she thinking?” I’ll leave it to them to figure that out. I suspect many of my pieces will end up like those embroidered cut work and crocheted doilies I’ve inherited – stuck in a trunk. I’d actually prefer they be put to use in a dog bed.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You might be quite surprised at how your pieces are cherished long in the future. Even your cut work and doilies are “stuck in a trunk,” because they are important to you.

      1. snarkyquilter

        Actually, it’s more guilt that makes me keep them. I know someone put in a lot of effort to make them and I can’t bring myself to dispose of them. I’ll pass that problem along to the next generation.

  4. KerryCan

    I think about the connection I feel with a long-gone quilter, as I handle a 100-year-old quilt. I feel the connection, the communion, even if I don’t love the look of the quilt–I guess I hope that, someday, when I’m the long-gone quilter, a 22nd century quilter will feel a connection to me.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You and I have talked about the stories in the textiles, and the connection we can feel to those long gone. Those feelings won’t diminish with time, they will simply belong to someone else.

  5. katechiconi

    So many of my quilts are portraits, in a sense, an abstract image of the person for whom I’m making it, expressing the things that matter to them, and to me, and formed in a unique way. I’d like to think that people I give quilts to recognise themselves in what I give, and that in a hundred years, that individuality and uniqueness will still speak to whoever finds the quilts!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’m sure any of your quilts would be as treasured in 100 years as they are today. The stories in them may be interpreted differently than you do, but that will always be the case, even with receivers now.

  6. mothercat2013

    Love the story of you and your daughter getting each other the same quilting book, that really made me smile 🙂 For me, quilt making is a way of encouraging my mind to explore different ways of seeing fabrics working together; of allowing me to smile as the project develops and others comment on how it looks; and, of course, trying to work out how I could improve and do it better next time! 🙂 Even when the end result is not quite what I envisaged, it’s still good to have that learning experience.

  7. shoreacres

    This may sound strange, but it just came to me. There’s a sense in which a quilt is a text. Its recipient will “interpret” it in the same way that anyone interprets a novel, a play, or a blog post. No writer can control how his or her words will be received. A dozen readers may have a dozen interpretations of a poem, and a hundred people at a play may find themselves at odds over what “really” happened on stage. In the same way, I can’t imagine how any quilter could control how the recipient “sees” the a specific quilt.

    Whether we’re writing or quilting, we can’t really control how what we’ve done will be received. All we can do is enjoy the process, meet our standards as best we can, and then offer our work up to the world. Who knows? Your quilts may mean something entirely unexpected, and even more lovely than you could have hoped, to someone in the future.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Linda. You said very well how I try to view my quilts, once they are no longer mine. I’ve had disappointments in giving them, as well as great rewards. That’s one of the reasons I now make them primarily for me — their time with me is the only time I control, and my enjoyment is the only enjoyment I’m assured.

      As you say, how others interpret my work is not for me to choose. I hope they will understand them as I do, but perhaps sometimes it’s better that they don’t. 🙂


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