Yesterday at the Columbia-Willamette Quilt Study Group annual retreat, Michelle Christiansen handed me a quilt and said if I wanted it I could have it. Joan Hoff had found it in her travels, and brought it along to the retreat because she thought someone there would give it a good home. Michelle actually claimed the quilt the night before I got to the retreat, and when she learned about my love of black cats and the new addition to my little family, she unselfishly offered me the quilt. I was just tickled when I opened it up and found it was black cats in baskets. What a hoot!
The quilt appears to be 1950s fabrics, and it really has that whole 50s vibe to it. This date of origin makes the quilt a bit more uncommon. After the big boom in quiltmaking in the 30s and 40s, there were fewer quiltmakers in the two decades that followed. There is some debate among quilt historians about whether or not quiltmaking in America died during the period, and my feeling is it didn't die completely, but was on life support for a long time.
I like to talk to people who lived during those years. My mother, for example, has said nobody in her circle was making quilts. Others have said it was more desirable to go to a department store to buy bedding, and quilts were for people who couldn't afford to shop in department stores. Interesting thoughts worth considering, but the fact of the matter is, I have a collection of over 250 quilts, and more 18th century quilts than 1950s quilts.
The kitties in the baskets make me giggle. I call this my Kitty Kat Kwilt. The cats are all black, just like my little Lulu, and they look like they are smiling and having fun, just like Lulu!
When I was photographing the quilt, I noticed there was a decorative quilting design in the otherwise plain, solid white blocks between the cat blocks. The cats and baskets are all appliqued, and the cats have adorable little embroidered faces and paws.
On the way home, I had the quilt on the passenger side seat, opened so I could see one of the cats. There was just something humorous about it. If I'd gotten a basket out, Lulu would be in it in a New York minute. And she'd be smiling about it, proud of herself, happy cat in a basket. Thank you to Joan and Michelle for this wonderful gift. Lulu aproves!