Saturday, June 30, 2012

On Deck: Speaking of Roses...

On Deck: August/September issue of Quilters Newsletter
Speaking of roses...check out the cover of the upcoming August/September issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine. After Mom and I had spent so much time at the International Rose Test Garden in Portland just this week, roses have been on my mind. What a coincidence that there are roses on the cover. That's not the only reason why I'm blogging about the upcoming issue of Quilters Newsletter. I want you all to know about the magazine because I'm in it!

Say what? 

If you go to the Quilters Newsletter website, you'll see a preview. :)
Yes, it's true. I'm in the magazine, and I've been doing my best to keep it a secret for a long time. But now that the preview for the August/September issue is up on their web site, I think the cat's out of the bag! Quilters Newsletter has been around since the late 1960s. I believe it was 1969 when Bonnie Lehman started it. Today, the magazine reaches far and wide. I've heard there are more than 200,000 subscribers. That's a lot!

So, some of you may be wondering, why am I in the magazine? I'm certainly not a world famous quilter, although I did recently make my first quilts. I've only been involved with the whole world of quilts for a few years, but I have collected for about 23 years. There are so many people who deserve to be featured. Why me? Well, I haven't seen this issue of the magazine yet, and I'm still not sure exactly how they found me, but on the most basic level I think it's because I really love quilts.

I'll write more about it when the magazine arrives, but wanted to give everyone the heads-up to keep an eye out for the August/September issue of the magazine. There will be pictures of quilts, an interview, and even a pattern! Most of all, I'd like to thank Quilters Newsletter for including me in the magazine. I'm honored, beyond words.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Rose Garden

On Wednesday, I took my mother to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland to see the roses in bloom. Mom is visiting from Maine and staying with me until July 19th. We had gone to get her a new camera earlier in the day, and she had thousands of beautiful roses as her test subjects. When we got home, she accidentally deleted all the pictures. No problem, though. We'd just go back.

Mom at the Rose Garden
Yesterday, before we went back to the Rose Garden, I saw a Facebook post from Sue Reich. It was a picture of seven white roses, and someone had left them in her yard on the seventh anniversary of the day her son, Stephen Reich, was killed in action while on a rescue mission in Afghanistan. Once we arrived at the Rose Garden, I couldn't stop thinking about Sue.

There were thousands and thousands of roses in full bloom, all colors, every variety you could imagine. The aroma of roses permeated the air. Visitors from all around the world were there. It was peaceful. Harmonious. I found myself particularly drawn to the yellow roses, because I understand they are a symbol of friendship. In one patch there were two perfect yellow roses together. Two friends. That's the picture I sent to Sue.

We wandered around for a while, blissfully enjoying the roses and snapping pictures. If you're ever in Portland, be sure to visit the Rose Garden!

On the way back the parking lot, still thinking about Sue, I spotted a plaque on the stairs. The words perfectly summed up the experience. I think I'll probably always think of Sue, and Stephen, too, whenever I go to the Rose Garden.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Separated at Birth - TRIPLETS!!!

Yesterday, just as I was getting ready to rush out to the International Rose Test Garden with my mother, who is visiting from Maine for three-and-a-half weeks, I received a message on Facebook from a woman from Ranson, West Virginia. It said, "Check out my profile picture. I'm blown away! Maybe you will be, too! Please message me."

Here is the profile picture from the sender of the message on Facebook
I thought, "What is this?" And frankly, in my haste to get out the door, I thought it was a picture of the quilt in my collection, thought to have been made by Mary Couchman Small. Or perhaps it was the one documented by the West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search, made by Mary's daughter, Harriet. I replied to Sharon, thinking it was one of the two quilts I knew about, and asked how she got a picture of it.

The two sensational Album quilts from West Virginia were the subject of my "virtual" poster presentation for the American Quilt Study Group in 2010. I blogged about the two quilts when I couldn't attend the AQSG Seminar, and the blog about those two quilts may be found here.

These are the two quilts from my "Separated at Birth" blog
When I got home yesterday and started looking more closely at the picture sent by the woman from West Virginia, I realized I wasn't looking at the quilt in my collection. Then I pulled up the old picture of the two quilts together, from my 2010 blog post, and I realized I wasn't looking at the other quilt either. There was a third quilt! Needless to say, I was absolutely stunned.

Detail of quilt #3
Since I realized there were three quilts, e-mails and messages have been flying back and forth. I've been in touch with Fawn Valentine, author of the West Virginia Quilts book. I've exchanged several messages with the owner of the third quilt, and discovered that it had been kept in storage for many years and was pulled out just yesterday, when her daughter took pictures of it.

Another detail of quilt #3 
Another detail of quilt #3
Another detail of quilt #3
I asked about the quilting, and learned it is just the same as the other two quilts - extremely dense echo quilting. This morning, there were some more pictures that showed the quilting. These pictures are a little blurry, but one thing's clear - it's the same style of quilting.

Detail view of the quilt in my collection - look at the quilting!
Now that a third quilt has surfaced, there are many more questions to be asked. One of the tantalizing details I got from the owner is there may have been a connection between the maker of the third quilt and the Sperow family. That's the family that had the other two quilts, as the two I'd already discovered had descended through Elizabeth Jane Small Sperow, sister of Harriet Small, maker of quilt #1, and daughter of Mary Couchman Small, presumed to be the maker of the one I own.

As soon as I learn more, I'll post it here. Thought you'd all be interested. The fraternal twins are really triplets!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flower Power!

"Flower Power" - All Double Knit Polyester, c. 1970

Yesterday, Madge Ziegler posted pictures of a double-knit polyester Grandmother's Flower Garden on the Facebook "Quilts-Vintage and Antique" page, and there was something very familiar about its construction. Loosely speaking, it was double-sided, but one side of each hexagon was solid, and the other side looked like each hexagon was folded and stitched together. It looked familiar because I have a double-knit polyester quilt that was constructed the same way (pictured above).

Madge Ziegler's Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt
Madge commented on her quilt, saying it was made from circles folded and stitched and then whipped together by hand or zig-zagged on the machine. To some people, the "wrong side" of the quilt actually looks better than the front side. It reminds me or origami. The front side is flat pieces, just like any other quilt.

The reverse side of my quilt.
The front side of my quilt.
As Madge and I both observed, these quilts are very heavy for their size, despite having no batting or backing. Double-knit polyester is fairly thick, and we think that may account for the weight. As you can probably see, Madge's quilt is much more like a traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden, with flowers inside flowers. Mine is more like interlocking flowers with centers, and in bright colors. Groovy!! 

Many thanks to Madge Ziegler for allowing me to use her pictures and information. We both wonder if there are other quilts like this out there in the world. A very interesting technique, which produces an intriguing result. Hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Afghan Madness

Zig Zag Crocheted Afghan, c. 1970

Am I crazy? Or is there something really great about vintage crocheted afghans? I didn't always like afghans. I guess I had this idea about them. Kind of dated, kitschy, at home with shag carpet and velvet landscape paintings. About a year ago, I started noticing afghans, and actually considered buying one, but chickened out.

Granny Square Crocheted Afghan, c. 1970
Today I dropped off a couple more boxes of donations for Goodwill, and since I got lucky with the four-patch quilt last week in McMinnville, I thought I'd go in and see if there were any quilts. There weren't any, but right around the corner was a whole rack full of them. There must've been 50 afghans, so I started looking at them.

Patriotic Striped Crocheted Afghan, c. 1975
Before I knew what was going on, I was marching toward the cash register with four afghans in my arms, and I could've sworn the clerk at the register gave me a funny look. I didn't really care. These afghans seem connected to the double-knit polyester quilts of the 60s and 70s because they are undervalued, kitschy, but strangely beautiful - and all handmade. Those who didn't quilt in the second half of the 20th century may have been crocheting.

Zig Zag Crocheted Afghan, c. 1970
These are the four afghans I came home with, and I spent less than $25 total. They had to be worth more than $4.99 or $7.99 apiece! So I went home and checked eBay to see what afghans are selling for these days. The best ones go for considerably more, and so do the comparable examples. I may sell them at some point, but I think I'll hold on to them for now. They seem to go well with the 70s quilts I've been collecting lately.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On Deck: Whatcom Museum Exhibit

I never thought I'd share anything in common with Huey Lewis. Other than the fact that we both attended New Jersey prep schools in close proximity to one another, but that's hardly having something in common. Our schools are longtime rivals. He's a "Big Red" - actually, I'd call him a "Larry" - and I'm a "Falcon". In other words, he went to The Lawrenceville School, I went to The Peddie School.

Too bad Huey Lewis a bit older than I. He could've been there to watch me representing the Falcons in swimming, when we stomped the Big Red four years in a row during my high school years. But alas, he graduated from L'ville just a year after I was born. Lawrenceville's colors are red and black, and if you go back and look at some of the old Huey Lewis and the News videos, he often wears red and black.

Now, there's a new connection of sorts. The title of one of Huey Lewis' well known pop singles. "It's Hip to be Square" appears on the postcard announcing the upcoming quilt exhibit at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington - and that's my quilt on the postcard! Can we call that "six degrees of separation"? And where does Kevin Bacon come in?

I digress. It's doubtful Huey Lewis would ever see this postcard, but the pop culture reference certainly amuses me, particularly given the rivalry between our high school alma maters. It's also really funny because just recently, I'd posted a link to the video for this song on my Facebook page. No particular reason. It was just because...

See? He's wearing a red shirt with black! (Told ya!). Catchy little tune, but I digress once more.

What I should really talk about is the upcoming quilt exhibit. The flip side of the postcard has some important details.

The exhibit is called "American Quilts: The Decmocratic Art 1780-2007" and is co-curated by Robert Shaw and Julie Silber. That's enough to tell me it's going to be brilliant. The exhibit is the first one based on Shaw's book of the same title. Published in 2009 by Sterling, Shaw's seminal book is one of the most important quilt history titles of the last decade. It's like a quilt history textbook, similar to Rod Kiracofe's "The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950", and every quilt lover should own copies of both books! 

So, how am I involved with this whole project? One of my quilts, the one on the postcard, is in the exhibit. It's especially an honor because my quilt was not in the book. I'm super jazzed about seeing it on the postcard. It's one of my favorite quilts, purchased several years ago through eBay, from a seller in Virginia, and here it is! The quilt deserves to be a focus of attention. 

There will be special events on August 4th, 5th, and September 15th, so plan ahead. The Olympic Peninsula is glorious during the summer and fall. For more information, click here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Why Quilts Matter" June Guest Blog

Tumbling Blocks, c. 1940, Lidian Hostetler, Wayne County, Ohio
In case you haven't already caught my June guest blog for "Why Quilts Matter" I thought I'd share the info. The blog is called "Good Eye" and it's about developing an eye for quilts. It is the sixth guest blog I've written this year, one each month, and like the others it is another way of continuing the conversation about quilts.

If you've been following these guest blogs, you may have noticed a lot of autobiographical notes. That's because I feel connected to quilts through the stories about acquiring them and living with them. These stories are sometimes amusing, occasionally madcap, but always memorable. I also feel connected to quilts by what they teach me, always learning new things. You never know what a quilt will teach you, but you've got to be ready for the lesson.

In the latest blog, I talk about the process of developing a good eye for quilts, and share two Amish crib quilts that were once part of the Esprit Collection. One of these is the Tumbling Blocks, pictured above.  It was once part of the Esprit collection, and I got it around Christmas a few years ago from an eBay seller in the Bay Area. She sent it to me in Maine, where I was visiting my parents, and Mom paid for the quilt as my big Christmas gift that year. Thanks, Mom!

To check out this month's "Why Quilts Matter" guest blog, click here!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fabulous Four-Patch Fabric Sampler

I got a little lost on my way home from McMinnville yesterday, and spotted a Goodwill, so I went in. It was somewhere near McMinnville, maybe even in McMinnville, but I'd never been to that particular Goodwill before. All the linens were hanging on racks in the back, to the right. There was just one handmade quilt in the midst of all the bedspreads, and it was this fabulous Four-Patch fabric sampler from the 1970s.

At first, I thought it was a One-Patch, but when I got it home, opened it up and took a better look, I realized it was really a Four-Patch. The quilt is tied, so I guess you could call it a comforter, and it is mostly cottons with some synthetics, and polyester batting. all machine pieced. The back is a wonderful floral print, and looks like it could've been a bed sheet. The plaid binding is applied, machine sewn on the front, brought to the back, and hand sewn.

Calico cheater cloth patch (above center)

There are stripes, florals, polka dots, and calicoes, including calico patchwork cheater cloth, and American Flag fabric. Some of the fabrics could be from before the 70s, but that calico cheater cloth is so 70s! There are also fabrics that looks like printed cross-stitch. It's really a wild combination of fabrics. Another fearless quiltmaker. :)

What we thought was a bicycle is actually a spinning wheel.
Cross-stitch Liberty Bell - very Bicentennial!
Dresden Plate cheater cloth
This print reminds me of the bathroom wallpaper at David Schmidt's house
in North Caldwell, New Jersey, before 1977. His mom always had a bottle
of Jean Nate' hanging around the shower/tub. Talk about a flashback!!
The best part about it was the price! Even though it was slim pickins, I should really visit Goodwill more often. I can just imagine the family who owned it, tossing it in a box, thinking, "We don't need to keep that ugly old thing around anymore" - and the Goodwill employee who priced it, thinking, "I'd better put a low price on this, otherwise nobody will ever buy it." So how much did I pay?

Just $6.99, what a bargain! It's a nice addition to my "generation X quilts" collection, and I'm happy to have another fun piece found right here in Oregon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Can't seem to button it right" by Maureen Supple

It's Facebook Foto Friday again, and time to share another quilt from the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). I thought I'd share this remarkable little quilt called "Can't seem to button it right" by Maureen Supple of Littleton, Colorado. When I was buying a group of quilts a few weeks back, this one really jumped out at me. It spoke to me.

I have a keen interest in AAQI quilts that speak boldly and directly to the challenges of living with Alzheimer's, or caring for someone with the disease. It's a frustrating condition, but every so often there is a moment of humor and light. With the simple idea of skewed buttons, Maureen Supple captured the moment brilliantly in this quilt. How could I not buy it?

Happy Facebook Foto Friday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

100% Double-Knit Polyester

Hexagon Diamond Tumbling Stars, c. 1970, Texas
Here's Quilt #3 from Deborah Ursell of San Antonio, Texas. It's a Hexagon Diamond Tumbling Stars with Diamond Paths, and it's 100% double-knit polyester! This quilt would be difficult to make with cotton, it's just mind boggling that anyone ever would've made it with stretchy, scratchy double-knit - and it's not wonky.

When I first saw the pictures of this quilt, I wasn't sure if I would be interested, but when Deborah said it was all double-knit, I wanted it- badly. One of the observations I've had about quilts of this period, 1970s roughly speaking, is they used traditional patterns a lot. But they were also using new materials, new color combinations, and they fearlessly combined prints and solids.

Interestingly, this quilt is machine quilted, and it really looks like the work of a very early long-arm machine. The quilt is huge, I can't imagine that it could've been done on a home sewing machine. There is variation in the quilting design- it looks almost like it was done with a template, but nowhere near as accurate as what we might see today. All part of its charm, I think.

So, that's all for the three quilts from Texas. Hope you enjoyed the show, and I hope my friends who are - ahem - afraid of double-knit will see the beauty in it. ;) That means you, Sandra!!