On this warm fall evening, I am able to look outside and see a colorful sunset over the fields across from my Canadian prairie home. I was born here, and I feel at home here, but I will always have a part of my heart that is still in my other home, in Lancaster Co. Pennsylvania.
I was privileged to spend two years of my childhood living in a place so beautiful it attracts thousands of tourists every year. People visit Lancaster to experience the charm of the Amish lifestyle, which seems in such sharp contrast to our modern world. However, if you have the chance to spent time with the Amish, you will quickly learn their lives are very similar to ours, they simply don’t have as much clutter as we do.
I used my time with the Amish as the basis for my latest quilt book, Urban and Amish, which features eight traditional Amish quilts, and eight modern quilts based on the traditional designs. The simple, dark, rich Amish quilts remind me of my time in the Amish homes, and the urban quilts reflect my modern world. However, they both have the same foundation, and that is the same with my friendship with the Amish. Our worlds look different, but our common ground is our shared faith, and nothing is more important to the Amish than honoring their faith.
During my family’s time in Lancaster, my mother was taught how to quilt by the local Amish women who would visit her work twice a week. These women would gather together and spend their time making quilts which were donated to the Mennonite Central Committee auction in Harrisburg. Through these friendships, my family was invited to spend a lot of weekends on Amish farms. I remember countless summer nights, running barefoot across the farms chasing dogs, ducks, and fireflies. We would throw a blanket over the back of a horse, and go for a ride across the fields. When we got hungry, there was always plenty of food in the kitchen, and of course there was homemade ice cream. There were always chores to do, and we were so busy with work and play that I never missed any of the toys and TV that were at my own home. Many people believe that the Amish life is stark and barren, but they do not understand that their simple, unadorned lifestyle is very rich and full.
Myra Harder has been working in the quilting and textile industry for over two decades and has found herself on the same path as her forefathers: her family ties can be traced back nine generations to fabric merchants in Prussia in the mid 1600s. She hopes to continue producing new ideas to inspire the next generation.