Thursday, March 14, 2019

Quilting Quiz from PBS

Here is a quiz about Quilting 
that I first stumbled across in 2010. 

What questions would you 
like to see added to such a quiz?

Quilting Quiz -

1. What do the following refer to: Chain, Feather, Herringbone, Outline?

  Quiltmaking patterns
  Appliqué patterns in popular use from the 1840s - 1860s
  Stitches found on Crazy Quilts

2. Foundation blocks are found in which group of patterns?

  Log Cabin, Pineapple, Press Piecing
  Dresden Plate, Sun Bonnet Sue, Rose of Sharon
  School House, Star of Bethlehem, Ocean Waves

3. What form of quilting originates in Laos?

  Pan Dau

4. Who is the inventor of the sewing machine?

  Elias Howe
  Isaac Singer
  Richard Sears

5. Which term does not belong?

  Garden Maze

6. Which of the following quilt patterns is not thought of as in vogue in the 1930s?

  Drunkard's Path
  Grandmother's Flower Garden
  Double Wedding Ring
  Dresden Plate

7. For what is the International Quilt Association known?

  Honoring a quilter every year who has made a difference in the quilting world
  Sponsoring the World's Largest Quilt Show
  Holding an annual conference in which over 250 classes and lectures are offered
  All of the above

8. What do the following have in common: Echo, Stipple, Meander, Crosshatch?

  Quiltmaking techniques
  Quilting patterns
  Methods of joining patchwork

9. Where might one find the Language of Flowers?

  Baltimore Album Quilts
  Crazy Quilts
  Appliqué Quilts
  All of the above

10. What innovation in quilting was introduced at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia?

  The Crazy Quilt
  The first electric iron
  Rotary Cutters

11. What do these things have in common: Hand of Friendship, Duck's Foot in the Mud, Bear's Paw?

  They are the names of square dance movements.
  They are the titles of Victorian children's stories.
  They are different names for the same patchwork pattern.
  They were popular appliqué patterns during the late 1800s.

12. What are the following names: Turkey Red, Indigo Blue, Double Pink, Nile Green?

  Crayola crayon colors
  Watercolor paint colors
  Rainbow Brite's friends
  Fabric colors

13. What characterizes a "summer spread?"

  light colors
  no backing
  no batting
  smaller than bed quilts, made to be used as picnic cloths

14. What do the following have in common: Baby Block, Thousand Pyramids, Trip Around the World?

  Children's toys/games
  Patterns of Asian origin
  One-patch patchwork patterns

15. Which quiltmaking technique has always been done by machine?

  Seminole Patchwork
  Prairie Points
  Miniature Quilts

16. What characteristics are associated with Folk Art Quilts?

  They are made by people who have had no artistic training.
  They are made for visual impact, not quiltmaking excellence.
  They have a spontaneity about them, often containing whimsical elements.
  They have crudely shaped design elements.

17. What do the following have in common: Diamond in the Square, Bars, Center Square?

  Types of cookies
  Amish quilt patterns
  Square-dancing formations
  All of the above

18. What do the following have in common: Charm Quilts, Scrap Quilts, Postage Stamp Quilts?

  Popular quilt styles in the early 1900s
  Patterns were obtained through mail order sources
  Quilts that used a wide variety of fabrics
  Quilts that were tied as opposed to quilted

19. Which of the following is created by a series of fabric folds to make an origami-type pattern?

  Attic Window
  Cathedral Window
  Doves in the Window

20. What are the following: Tapestry, Crewel, Upholstery, Quilting?

  Types of yarn
  Types of fabric
  Types of needles
  Types of scissors

21. Which term does not belong?

  Prairie Point

22. What are the following: Bodkin, Boot Spur, Emery Pouch?

  Articles of clothing
  Sewing tools
  Quilting Patterns

23. Where is "Quilt City, USA"?

  Houston, Texas
  Lowell, Mass.
  Kutztown, Pa.
  Paducah, Ky.

A recent addition to my collection said to be Cuban made. Each block is signed with a first name and three have the date of 1996 stitched on them as well.  Any of my readers familiar with Cuban needlework?   More photos on my next blog post.

Friday, March 8, 2019

1876 Centennial Quilt Project-Part I

My first article about the 1876 Centennial Quilt Project that I helped launch the summer of  2015 appeared in the local newspaper in the San Juan Islands, Washington, April 22, 2017. 

Almost four years after discovering this amazing quilt, the story now contains many more chapters. Though I have posted on Facebook from time to time over the past two years, I have decided to use my blog to finally chronicle the fuller extent of this wonderful experience and  journey. 

The above poster announced our first public sharing of the project that took place on Lopez Island, WA where we two co-founders of the project, Anne Dawson and Karen Alexander, reside. Our "works-in-progress" exhibit reflected our desire to show our fellow islanders what was involved in the making of such a complex quilt. 

1876 Centennial Quilt Unveiled 
by Karen B. Alexander
(Updated version)

“What is it about quilts with you quilt historians?” is a question I hear frequently.

Among the many answers to the question – why I study quilts – is that quilt history is a natural vehicle for a wide-range of learning in the fields of social history, women’s history and textile manufacturing history, to name a few. Sadly, most quilts lose their maker’s story over the generations, especially once the quilt leaves the family. But sometimes, these lost quilts are rediscovered.

In May of 2015, I discovered a quilt which contained over 70 different patterns set in a medallion-style arrangement. It contained the date 1876 and the initials EMC in four separate large circles.

The quilt was simply stunning. I knew I had to share the image of this quilt with the members of my bee, the Ladies of Tuesday Night. I did not tell the group what I hoped, i.e. that they would help persuade Anne Dawson, owner of our little island’s quilt shop The Quilter’s Studio, to draft the 70+ patterns. I waited to see their reactions first. But sure enough, several responded with the same joyful exclamation: “I want to make this quilt! Let’s ask Anne if she will draft it for us.” Exactly what I had hoped to hear!

Only Anne can tell the full story of what she went through wrestling with herself over whether or not to take on this enormous challenge, but eventually she said yes. The next step was to ask the owner of the quilt, Barbara Menasian of Connecticut, if she would allow us to pattern it.  Many emails flew back and forth over a period of several weeks but suddenly, one day, our 1876 project was a go! Barbara had said yes!

All the block patterns in this quilt have been around for well over 100 years. However, it is the “arrangement” of the blocks in this quilt that is so unique and so exacting. Originally Anne thought only six to eight quilters might enroll in her class. But what a response! 17 from the San Juan Islands, Bellingham and Seattle signed up including the Connecticut owner, who decided to join us —by correspondence— and finally learn how to quilt herself.

The journey has been challenging for all, not the least for Barbara Gonce of Lopez Island, the oldest member of our project. Barbara G. eventually made four versions of the quilt to showcase how changing fabric styles and colors affects the overall appearance of this quilt. Meanwhile, I struggled to get one quilt made!

We still have many questions to solve. We know nothing more about the original maker, other than her initials – EMC.  Did she make the quilt in Connecticut where it was found? We think so. At least two are working to track her down.

Our works-in-progress exhibit took place May 6, 2017, at Woodmen Hall, on Fishermen Bay Rd. EMC was even present for Barbara Menasian had flown in from Connecticut with it in her arms for this very special unveiling.  The very first official public viewing of all 23 finished quilts in the pilot project took place in November 2018.  But, whoops, I'm jumping too far ahead too fast! The telling of that exciting adventure is another story for another day.

This was the state of my quilt in May 2017.

Above is the state of progress for several other versions of the quilt.

Eventually I would name my quilt "Perseverance".  That's what it took for me to finally finish it.  

Karen B. Alexander standing in front of "Perseverance" 
at the Houston International Quilt Festival November 2018

I'll write more about our experiences as I relive this journey with you via my blog posts.  
Thank you for sharing this journey with us by reading our story!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Ocean Waves - Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Ocean Waves in Red & Brown (68" x 91") ca. 1880-1900 from Russel/Traver family, Rockingham Co., Shenandoah Valley of VA.  See Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns #113a, pg. 23.

The focus of my quilt research in 1998 was the Shenandoah Valley... three counties in particular: Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Page counties. My Biedler ancestors used to live in all three counties. My great-grandfather's place is still in the family in Page County near Luray, VA.

Saturday, Nov 14, 1998, I drove to Green Valley Auction House for the first time. It's just south of Harrisonburg. I had just learned about the auction house from a friend a couple of weeks earlier. Green Valley had an unusually large auction that past 3-day weekend. It consisted of almost all Valley antiques. The special highlight that had drawn a huge crowd was the one of a kind, R. Merlin Turner's life-time collection of Shenandoah Valley pottery. This auction was, for the most part, Shenandoah Valley antiques. It wasn't stuff trucked in from out of state. But hey, I love any auction. What FUN! 

I had finally decided to make the trek down from the DC area to an Auction House this time because there were to be 10 quilts included in the auction, nine from one family. This was an unusual chance to be able to document a single family's collection.  Usually you find only a one or two quilts at a time from a given family at an estate auction.

I really shouldn't have bid .... I was suppose to be there for research purposes only. But I gave in and bid, anyway, and came away with one quilt, the second to the cheapest that day.  (Yes, it is quite worn.) The pattern is known as Ocean Waves, which includes lots of different fabrics which makes it a good period fabric STUDY piece as well. See Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns #113a, pg. 23.

So much for ONLY documenting, photographing, and gathering the history on the family who made them.  But I just couldn't resist.  This is the 3rd Valley quilt I have bought this year. My other two are much nicer, but only cost a little more.  Paid too much for this one, but couldn't resist the chance to own at least one quilt from this family grouping since I photographed and plan to document the whole group.

It takes a LOT of discipline NOT to get caught up in the excitement of an auction!

This was the first "Auction House" auction I had attended in the Valley. I usually go only to estate auctions that are held right on the family farm. That is where you can get the best buys as well as stand a good chance of doing interviews and getting a lot of basic research done right on the spot. As for the quilt I just bought, I know only the name of the woman who was selling (Russell) and the family name from whom the quilts came (Traver). I am going to have to track down the sellers address or phone number through the auctioneer in order to pursue further research.

While photographing the quilts I had several women approach me and ask me if I quilted. I told them I used to, but now only do research and write about them. I told them at the time that my focus was the Shenandoah Valley, and gave them my business card. After glancing at my card, one older woman (a Mrs. Bruce Helsley) asked if I would be interested is seeing her collection. I jumped at the offer!  She lives in Woodstock in Shenandoah County very near where the Biedlers first settled. Woodstock is where the Beidler furniture store resides. Mrs. Helsley and I hoped to get together after the first of the year but for reasons I now cannot recall, we never did get together. What a shame!

(A footnote of history: An advertisement ran in the local newspaper Nov. 17, 1945 which stated: One year ago was the opening of Beidler’s Furniture Store in Woodstock. This means that my First Anniversary is due to your loyalty and support. I wish to thank each and every one of my friends and customers who helped make this possible. Fred B. Beidler.)

Another woman (Ingrid Shomo) who was sitting near the quilt display rack invited me to sit next to her. Ingrid is not a quilter herself (she's a therapist), but several of her friends are quilters, and she gave me their names and numbers, thinking they might help me track down other collections for documentation. Ingrid seemed to know everyone that walked by, and continually pointed out people to me and told me who they were and what they did. She also was great at explaining the whole Auction House system to me, and told me that everything on the stage behind the auctioneer was up for sale to, and that I should walk up there and photograph the hanging quilts as well. I grinned and said I already had. (I had made sure when I entered and was registering for a number that I also got permission to photograph. I saw the hanging quilts as soon as I entered the giant hall and had quickly headed on-stage.)

There were so many wonderful Valley things being sold that day. It made me drool. At least I have the self discipline to limit myself to quilts. That is difficult enough!

The following are photos I took at the actual auction in 1998.

It's always great for documentation purposes if you can see quilts in context of their "life"; or at least in context of an auction house surrounded by other quilts from the same household, if they are present.  There were two sources for the quilts in this auction. The green note below describes the two groups of quilts at Green Valley Auction that day.

A note in my photo album from 1998

Quilts hanging on a old fashion drying rack.

The Virginia Quilt Doc. Project book calls the above pattern "Farmer's Delight/Farmer's Fancy"

This block consists of one "large" half-square triangle (with the stem bisecting the lower half of the square) and four "smaller" half-square triangles plus one small square in the upper right corner of equal size to the smaller half-square triangles.

 (Below) The Ocean Waves quilt I won that I wrote about above in my story.