Friday, October 21, 2011

The Teddy Bear - Strangest Quilt in My Collection

Teddy Bears have been ubiquitous in our culture since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Here is a link to how Roosevelt became connected with the bear. We in this day and age would find appaling what his friends did. Thank goodness, Roosevelt did, too, and refused to shoot the poor bear, though he insisted that his friends put the poor bear out of its misery.

The incident became widely known as a result of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902.

Morris and Rose Michtom created the first Teddy Bear in 1903, and with Roosevelt's permission, named it Teddy. 

Like our Beanie Babies of a decade ago, the Teddy Bear was such an outrageous pop-culture item of its day, according to one source, that even grown women were known to carry them around in public. (I am certain no quilter ever carried a Beanie Bay around in her purse, right?)

Bear lore in human culture and myth long pre-dates the famous Teddy Bear phenomena of Roosevelt's day.  As always, humans and their myths are a fascinating study. You might enjoy exploring this site that writes on the bear lore of Europe or this one that writes of the bear lore of Native Americans.

So, yes, my "strangest" quilt is a Teddy Bear!

Why strange?

Because real teddy bears surely had to have been sacrificed to make this very three-demensional quilt!

Seems a bit macabre to me.  But this quilt has been well used, as the photos far below show, and possibly, therefore, well loved.

 So why did I add the quilt to my collection? Because it is so outrageously unusual I think Julie Silber would be willing to add it to her collection of Maverick Quilts!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Antique Buttons

For the button lovers among my readers!

I had never seen anything like this before so I figured it was something that I needed to share, even though I don't collect buttons myself.

Seen in an antique shop just south of Seattle (and photographed with permission) on my way to the Pacific West Quilt Show August 25, 2011.

Have any of you button collectors seen something like this before?

This little gem is about as unique as the Signature china plate I found two years ago that reminded me of a Signature Quilt.  You can read that post by clicking here.

May we never grow weary of collecting! And may our children survive our passing when confronted with the consequences of our passion!!



PS: There was an excellent article about buttons that ran in PieceWork's July/August 2011 issue 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Documenting Family Quilts-Part 1

Everyone Needs Quilted Memories in the Family!  

And future generations need us to document these quilts now!

Sarah in Pink!

Teen-agers! Well, what can I say. Some females will go to strange lengths to keep that skin beautiful! But I don't think she went out in public with that goop on her face!  No self-respecting 14 year old would — not even in New Orleans where we lived at the time!

The Lone Star quilt on the wall sets off Sarah's pink glow nicely, don't you think?

The name of the portrait quilt below from 1978 is "Sarah in Pink".  My mother-in-law actually made three of these, one for each child, based on the art work we had sent her. (See the photo of all three below.)

Of course, I had no idea she would make a quilt out of the art work when I sent it. I didn't know anyone could do that.....make a quilt out of a child's artwork!

Oh my, how my daughters are going to love me for these photos. All quilts by my prolific mother-in-law, Wini Waters Alexander, born in Yakima, WA and raised in Seattle.

Christmas Eve 1978 

What's Your Story?

We all have a story about how, why and when we got hooked by the quilting bug. I think  when we record our stories, we are leaving behind a very valuable legacy. I hope you will consider writing down your story for your children or grandchildren!

I Owe it All to My Mother-in-Law!

I never would have gotten bitten by the quilt bug if it weren't for my mother-in-law. It was the above three portrait quilts plus one other quilt (below) made of Sarah's art work from age 2-7 that finally lured me into quilting.

What intrigued me most of all about the above quilt was what a carrier of history it was, a child's history. I was hooked!

Wini was proficient in so many different forms of neeldework. 
I think her first love was clothing

In 1978 she made robes for the whole family, along with those quilts you saw above!

Wini made quilts at every stage of the children's lives!  
I'll be showing you more in future posts.

I knew I had photos somewhere of my youngest daughter (Lori) taken about 1977 with two of the doll quilts Wini had made. Finally found them!

Pink Medallion doll quilt ( see above) was lost shortly after Lori received it in 1977. 

I reluctantly allowed Lori to take this precious new birthday gift (above) to her friend's house that day just across the street. It never came back and this is the only photo I have of it. Fortunately I snapped the photo just before she left the house that day. The friend's mama could not find it when I called the next morning. She claimed she hadn't even seen it. I was so upset. The two little girls had stayed home the whole afternoon so it couldn't have been left somewhere else.  I always suspected her little friend might have squirreled it away somewhere to play with later, as little children will sometimes do.  I hope some day it shows up in someone's antique doll quilt collection!  Alas, Wini did not sign her doll quilts like she did all her other quilts.

Above is another one of Wini's birthday gift's to Lori. I confess, I had a very hard time allowing her to play with this one. Each fan is trimmed in lace.

Here's Lori some 30 years later ready for a 2010 Halloween party, black wig and all!

And below a photo prepping for her wedding.  Though she doesn't make quilts (yet), she is a graphic artist!

My son's only daughter --and our only granddaughter -- in my lap with our eldest daughter looking on as her sister preps for her big day. My granddaughter is now learning to sew, thanks to her own mother and Girl Scouts.  In fact, she surprised Lori and made the Ring Pillow for the wedding!

"I'll give the baby Fan Quilt to Lori some day," I told myself those many years ago...."when she has her first baby."  It will be a lovely "baby presentation" quilt.

No baby yet but plenty of time for she just got married in April here on the island.

They are going to make GREAT parents! They already take on the nieces and nephews for several days at a time.

Our wedding day 1968!

Loren, Gary's father, is on the right side of the photo. Wini, Gary's mother, on the left side of the photo. My mother is on the right side of the photo with Loren. Frankly, my wedding was very simple. I did not even set a color scheme, yet both mothers showed up in the same color! The wedding was outdoors in a friend's lovely backyard that had just been re-landscaped with a bubbling waterfall added.

As I uploaded my wedding photo onto the blog, I got to remembering my search for my wedding dress. I found it in a bridal shop in Pasadena, CA that carried used wedding dresses. I don't know if I ever told my daughters this story for I didn't keep the dress. At least five more college friends wore it after I in a space of three years!  I don't remember now who was the last one to wear it, but it led a good long life.

Lori (above) found her dress at a Cancer Fund raising Auction. Her wedding ceremony took place in a wonderful historic church here on the island. It has perfect acoustics, no microphone is ever needed no matter what the event.

Sarah (above-my eldest) found her dress used on eBay so they both carried on the tradition.  (We'd all three rather have money to spend on books than clothes.) Sarah also got married outdoors like Gary and I.

My mother was married in a suit on Easter Sunday 1942.  Pearl Harbor had already been bombed. How quickly their world changed. Yet how much more the world has changed since even those days of crisis in the early 40s!


Karen Alexander

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Honoring Steve Jobs

iPhone Quilt in Charity Auction Honors Steve Jobs

updated 10/7/2011 10:46:53 PM ET

A quilt depicting an Apple iPhone hanging in the atrium of the BP Building in Midtown was made by a group of women who wanted to contribute something unique to an auction for United Way.

About $300 worth of materials went into creating the completely handmade auction item. United Way officials say the recent death of Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs makes the quilt a piece of history that's also a sign of the times.
"It's something that someone can use and share with their kids," said United Way's Katria Strauch. "It's very, very current and common that you'll see, for example, college kids have iPads or iPods or all of the above."

The quilt has been on auction since Sept. 19, and will remain available until Oct. 13. If you would like to bid on the quilt, contact Strauch via email at

To reach Katria, click here.  Katria sent me a photo of the quilt today with this note:

A unique, almost queen size (76" x 96") quilt, framed by BP green. It is a replica of a smart phone with interpretations of 21 different apps designed and appliqu├ęd by several BP employees, contractors and spouses. The overall quilting pattern chosen is called "Pipelines."

Has anyone heard of any other quilts being made to honor Steve Jobs? If so, please leave a comment with the story or a link to the story. Thanks!

My favorite Steve Jobs quote:

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Listen and watch Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech here. I highly recommend it. I have had a Mac since 1984. My kids persuaded me to try a PC in 1999. I survived that experience for 3 years and then went back to Macs. I LOVE my iMac.  Now I want something I can upload my entire research file onto. And I want to be able to type on it and add data to it while traveling. (Is it apparent that I do not have a laptop?) I also don't want it to weigh much. Suggestions?

Guess I had better get on a ferry and go visit an Apple Store in Seattle.

Do what you love.  Like Steve said, life is so short!