Saturday, September 25, 2010

Barbara Bergreen - Featured Guest #1

I thought it would be fun to begin a series of Featured Guests. This will be a cross section of people in the quilt world I have met recently or over the years. Some of the meetings are very serendipitous, sometimes even syncronistic. 

Featured Guest #1 — Barbara Bergreen of
Eugene, Oregon

(photo courtesy of The Stitchin' Post)

Did you know that the Stitchin' Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon is probably the oldest quilt shop in the US still in the original owner's hands? That's quite a feat.

In my last post, I promised to tell you about some of the people I met during my first ever visit to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Wow! What a show! Founded by Jean Wells Keenan in 1975, this year's show celebrated their 35th anniversary.

While browsing at the Stitchin' Post, I ran into a very colorful Barbara Bergreen. She was not someone one could easily ignore!

photo by Karen Alexander
I simply had to stop her and ask if I might take a picture. l just couldn't pass up the opportunity. I'm glad I did. The chance meeting led me to a very special story.

One thing led to another and soon I learned of a wonderful family tradition that the women in her family started ten years ago.

But I am going to let Barbara tell the story in her own words. I have posted it below with her permission.

(all family photos are from Barbara Bergreen)

Stitched Together in More Ways Than One
Barbara's Story

We began coming to the Sisters Quilt Show shortly after I had been diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness. It became very important to me that the immediate women in my family spend some uninterrupted time together, time when we weren't preparing Thanksgiving dinner, serving wedding cake, or offering a hug at a memorial service.

Our first four-day visit to Sisters and the Quilt Show included my mother and her identical twin, then 83 years old, my sister and her daughter and granddaughter, all from Portland, and my two daughters, one from Seattle and the other from Portland (I'm from Eugene).

That was ten years ago. Since then we have added my daughter-in-law from Los Angeles, my five granddaughters, my sister-in-law and her daughter-in-law from Seattle, and we've opened up the invitation to the newest young men in the family: two grandsons and three grand nephews. The baby population is booming!

We were overwhelmed by our first visit to the Sisters Quilt Show. The town was buzzing with electricity at 7 AM, and only got busier as the day progressed.

(All firemen photos courtesy of Valori Wells. Click here.)

We loved watching the fire fighters hanging quilts up on the highest gables, ladder trucks supporting them.

The enthusiasm from the business community was contagious. And we learned you could put your lunch on blankets in the city park, and return at noon to find nothing had been disturbed. Year after year we have returned to the same corner of the park, greeting familiar faces similarly contented.

With such a wonderful first experience we chose to become involved, and volunteered to hang quilts.
Katia and Heidi

The younger women climbed the ladders, the baby carriages did double duty and housed babies, doughnuts, and coffee, and the more "mature" in our group supervised the alignment of each and every quilt.

Our four-day visits have now lengthened to a week.

Pia and Aunt Rachel

This year my oldest granddaughter, Pia (age nine), said she was going to move from standing in line for doughnuts (with the little kids) to actually climbing the ladder with clothespins and quilts, and she did an amazing job.

We also requested to be our own "team leaders". It took us two and a half hours to hang 37 quilts, but we were thrilled to be part of the joy each quilter felt when they sent their work to the show.

Cathy and Heidi in action!
As we were nearing the end of our job that morning,

a woman approached me and said she had submitted a quilt and hadn't been able to find it. She said it was in our group. I checked my records and, sure enough, hers was going to be the last quilt hung. She said she was so excited. She was from North Carolina and she wanted to take pictures of us hanging the quilt because she represented a group of women who had worked on it. Fifteen minutes later, she was excitedly photographing a proud moment.

The Sisters Quilt Show has become one of the special memories in our family. For several years we spent part of our week piecing together a baby quilt for the next new member of our family. (But now so many babies have arrived we've realized that pins and scissors have become a hazard!) There are five little girls who think we've done this every year of our lives...and for them, it is true.

The great grandmother and great grandaunt no longer attend, although they continue on in good health.

My sister (Karla Skowhede) and I (left) are now the grandmas. And every year we look forward to a gathering of sisters, half-sisters, stepsisters, twin sisters, sisters-in-law, and many baby boys.

We have observed that our family is very like a quilt with complementary and contrasting personalities who, for one relaxing and rewarding week in summer, come together in a beautifully cohesive pattern. Building stronger ties, embellished with the individual story of each of our lives.

                             ~ Barbara Bergreen


  1. Karen
    This is such a wonderful story about Barbara and her family. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  2. Thanks, Karen. But which Karen are you?! Karen M?

    There are so many wonderful stories about what the procoess of making a quilt has done to impove the quality of someone's life or what the gift of a quilt has done to enncourage and comfort someone. Quilts are such powerful carriers of "story"! Besides being colorful, warm and tactile!