Tuesday, May 23, 2017

a quilt, and a choice

In 2006, I acquired a very special quilt. It was a 40th birthday gift to myself, and I got the idea from Shelly Zegart. Shelly's website had quilts for sale, and one had a story about the late Sandra Mitchell buying herself a special quilt for a significant birthday one year.

I thought that was a great idea! 

Mitchell's birthday quilt was for sale at the time, but I chose another quilt, one of the finest in her collection. Five years earlier, I saw the quilt at Shelly's home in Louisville, Kentucky. I was in town for a convention, which had been rescheduled and relocated after 9/11.

It was wonderful visiting with Shelly, but at one point I asked if she had any quilts to show. She led me to a quaint room with a small bed, and under the bed was a box. Inside the box was this quilt. It was the only quilt she showed me that day.

I'm sure I gasped when I saw it. The quilt took my breath away. My heart skipped a beat, and I was weak in the knees all at once. Somehow, I managed to stay upright.

The quilt appeared in Shelly's book, "American Quilt Collections: Antique Quilt Masterpieces" under the entry for the Sandra Mitchell Collection. Mitchell, unfortunately, was not very interested in maintaining family information for quilts, so this quilt was inadvertantly misattributed in the book as an 1860s quilt from Pennsylvania.

Eventually, we discovered two other quilts like it -- I know, hard to believe -- and attributed this quilt to Mary Couchman Small (1800-1863) of Martinsburg, Berkeley County West Virginia. It was made around 1850, when West Virginia was still part of the Virginia Territory.

An almost identical quilt made by her daughter, Harriet, surfaced during the West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search, and was featured in the book "Echoes from the Hills, West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers" by Fawn Valentine.

When I saw the quilt at Shelly's home in 2001, it was one of the finest quilts I'd ever seen in person, and certainly the most densely quilted.

Five years later, the quilt was available. It was a serious investment, so I had to think seriously about it. My choice was not which quilt to buy, or whether or not to spend the money. It was really more like a promise to myself. In the future, I would do something more with the quilts. With a quilt like this one, I felt obligated.

more gardening

There were violets growing in the gaps between stones in my back yard path. Originally, moss was planted in those spots, but it never did well there and eventually died.

The violets sprung up in place of the moss. The only thing was the violets were growing a little tall, so I moved several of them over to the side.

Maybe the violets will be happy there, and maybe I will be able to finally rid the area of grass and weeds. It's amazing how those plants show up in my yard, just like magic. It's OK, though. I'm watching a little more closely this year, and healthy enough to enjoy spending time in the garden.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Quilt Love

My friend Marjorie Childress has a Facebook community page called Quilt Love. Check it out if you haven't seen it. Marjorie collects the most remarkable quilts.

a modern looking tied wool comforter
courtesy of the Childress Collection and Quilt Love

She sees things others miss, and what she sees is interesting and important. A few of us have started to notice. Some of her quilts were included in the book "Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar, 1950-2000" by Roderick Kiracofe.
a quilt inside a quilt
courtesy of the Childress Collection and Quilt Love
The world has yet to see most of Marjorie's collection. I have encouraged her to work on photography to help get the collection out there, and new pictures are gradually starting to appear. You'll see them first at Quilt LoveAll quilts appearing in the photos are part of the Childress Collection, with exceptions noted in the captions. 
a favorite from the Childress Collection
About Quilt Love: Self-expression is a natural human need. Historically, the voice of women has been largely silenced in public domains. That's why you'll see very few women voices in the historical canons of great literature or art. But when you broaden your reference points, it's easy to see women's self-expression, the art of women, in history. All you have to do is look at the quilts. 

Everybody needs a little Quilt Love. Check out the Quilt Love page and the fabulous collection of Marjorie Childress on Facebook. To go there, click here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

garden clean-up

The garden is overgrown again. It's been raining a lot, and cooler than normal. Yesterday there was sun. It was a good day for a garden clean-up.

I use an old oil bucket for gathering the pulled weeds. It came with the house.

Oh, what a mess! I did a little gardening last summer, but not so much in the back of the house. Now that I'm feeling a little healthier, I can get more done.

What a mess! You couldn't even see the path before I got started. Even though it's supposed to be a secret garden, it's not very inviting when the weeds are knee high.

Gradually, I began to make some progress. The stone path appeared.

Looks like it's time to throw some more mulch down. The old mulch got packed down, and now the stones are sticking out a bit too much.

There are lots of violets growing around the path where moss was originally planted. I will try to keep some of those and remove all the weeds and grass. There has been plenty of time for the bees to enjoy the dandelions, and plenty of other flowers around.

Today is supposed to be sunny and warmer. I will pull more weeds before the ground dries up.

More Dick Bruna Books: The Apple, 1978

There was a 1978 copy of The Apple by Dick Bruna in the lot of books I received the other day. Just like the 1960s editions, the pages were richly colored screen prints.

The Apple is a charming story about an apple that is sad because it's on the ground and wishes it could see everything and travel. Luckily a bird comes along and helps.

Some of the newer books have glossy pages on lighter stock. It will be interesting to see when that change occurred. The other four books are late 1990s and early 2000s, and those have the glossy pages.

Regardless of the quality of the printing, the books are wonderful, simple, and tell delightful stories that resonate with children as well as adults.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mary Deal Bost's quilt, 1976

The other day, this quilt arrived from an eBay seller in Carrboro, North Carolina. It is approximately 46" x 83" and is made of polyester double knit rectangular patches and long strips.

There is an inscription on the edge of one patch. It says Mary Deal Bost 1976. Mary could have been the maker or the owner, or both.

Great mix of colors, mostly solids with one or two tweeds, and decorative hand stitching over each seam.

The size is interesting. I wonder if it was made as a bed runner. Depends on how you look at it, I guess.

That reminds me of a funny moment the other day at the NW Quilters show with Carol and La Rayne from Latimer Quilt and Textile Center. We struggled to come up with the term "bed runner" and I asked, "What do they call those things that go across the foot of the bed?" to which Carol responded, "At my house it's called two dogs." They could probably hear my guffaw all the way back at the concession stand.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Julie Yukimura's quilt

Hawaiian scrap quilt, attributed to Julie Yukimura, 1977, 53" x 69"
Julie Yukimura founded The Kapaia Stitchery of Kauai, Hawaii in 1973. The shop is the longest operating, largest quilting, sewing and fabric supply shop in the region. It started as a yarn shop, but soon, Julie's love of quilting took over. She even sold completed quilts, and here's one of them!

The quilt is what the Hawaiians might call a patchwork blanket. It is made of vintage Hawaiian fabrics, flannel backing, and edge finished with an applied binding. It is tied but has no batting.

This quilt is attributed to Julie Yukimura. Either she made it herself, or it was made under her direction in the shop. The buyer lived on the mainland. I bought it from an eBay seller in Michigan, who included a copy of a note that came with the quilt, as well as Julie Yukimura's business card.

The quilt could have been given as a Christmas gift, but it is not clear. Julie's note was dated 12/4/77 and includes holiday greetings.

When I searched for Julie, I found a couple pictures including the one above from Lisa Boyer's blog. It was sad to learn Julie had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly ten years ago. There was an obituary in The Garden Island, and it read:

Julie Reiko Yukimura, owner of the Kapaia Stitchery and active in the Kaua‘i community, died at her home in Lihu‘e on Nov. 6, 2007, at the age of 59.
Born on Sept. 15, 1948, in Lihu‘e, she was preceded in death by her father Yoshio Yukimura. A beloved daughter, sister, cousin, niece and auntie, she is survived by her mother Masako, brothers Paul (Karen) Yukimura and Peter (Lani) Yukimura, and sister Lisa (Ron) Jeffery; nieces Jennifer and Darcie Yukimura, Erin Jeffery; and nephews Scott, Koa, Ken and Neil Yukimura; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Julie attended Kauai High, the University of Kansas, and the University of Hawai‘i. She had a passion for fabric, sewing and needlework and started her own business, the Kapaia Stitchery, in 1973. Her business has become very well known through the years. Residents and tourists alike will remember Julie for her customer service, kindness and generosity, reflecting how she lived the aloha spirit. She has often been acknowledged for her aloha spirit and philanthropy to others.
A supporter of many good causes, Julie was active in the formative days of Hospice Kauai. She was a strong member of the Lihue Christian Church, having served as moderator, Sunday School director, and formed the Women’s Group whose members created quilts for the benefit of the church’s annual bazaar.

Julie's business partner, Jean Acoba managed the shop after Julie passed away, and eventually bought the shop from the family on 12/12/2012, her daughter's birthday. Jean had worked at the shop since 1990, and collaborated with Julie. I plan to reach out to Jean to let her know I've got the quilt and the note. Hopefully she can tell me more about Julie and her quilts.