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On your calendar

All these events help raise money to support the Historical Village.  Volunteers bake pies, sew quilts, knit hats and play music so our valley’s museum can be everything you want.

quilts for sale

November 21:  Pint Night at HA Brewery.  4-8pm.  Huckleberry Pie raffle. Live music with Dave Leeman and Al McCurry.  $1 from every beverage sold and $1 from every pizza sold goes to the Village.

December 1:  Holiday bazaar from 9-4 in the old school house! Handmade items galore with all proceeds going to the Village.  Yes its true. You don’t want to miss this.

December 7-21: Every Friday until Christmas, the bazaar at the Historical Village continues. A perfect place to pick up last minute gifts and visit the quilters. 10-3 in the old school house.

Do you want quarterly updates about events at the Historical Village? We now put out an e-newsletter.  Leave a comment so we know the best way to contact you.

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It takes a Village…

The response to our membership drive has been awesome. Thanks to everyone who sent something towards supporting the Historical Village.  Of course it is not too late if your form happens to be still sitting on the kitchen table/desk.  Just put it in an envelope with your donation, add our address (Tobacco Valley Board of History at PO Box 1452  Eureka, MT 59917), a stamp and you are good to go.  IMG_2672

Hopefully you have seen the Great Northern caboose in the Village. Kenny Westbrook just finished the renovation.  It is so beautiful – and much more sturdy then it was before.  Children are going to thoroughly enjoy climbing on it this summer.  And a few lucky adults will get to sit on the caboose steps to watch Shakespeare in the Parks.

The Village quilters stopped meeting on Fridays for the summer but some of their lovely handwork will be available at the Eureka Montana Quilt Show on August 4.  Of course there are other quilts available for sale at the museum gift shop all summer.  If you are searching for a unique wedding gift or something special for yourself, you might consider one of the tied quilts which are the perfect combination of beautiful, warm and affordable.  Yes, here in northwest Montana, one often needs a quilt on chilly summer nights.

 

Whatever it takes

We are working on a quilt with a history. I suppose that isn’t so surprising. Many quilts have history.  Do you remember that beautiful one made by an elderly quilter from Gee’s Bend?  It was pieced from her husband’s old work clothes.  She said every time she got under that quilt, she felt as though her husband was still with heIMG_2260r.

The quilt we are working on now came from Kentucky. The brother of a friend sent it to me. The women at the Historical Village think the fabrics are from the 1940s.  When it arrived in the mail, the top pieced with colored fabric and squares of plain muslin was stiff with age.  Bev carefully washed it and washed it, finally getting it to a point where it could be quilted. We found a large piece of muslin for the back. But how to quilt this slightly irregular beauty?  The pieced blocks are delicate and also aren’t exactly square. At the same time the colors and patterns are special enough we wanted to do more than simply tie it.

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So Cathryn in her wisdom pointed out that we could quilt the plain squares and tie the remainder.  What a perfect plan for this unique quilt! A pattern with small hearts was selected.  It is a bit slow as the fabric tends to hold the needle but we are getting there.  It might be finished by late spring.  It is one of those quilts that has a lot of character although who is to say how long it might last.  Still it will easily grace whatever bed it ends up on.  Hopefully the person sleeping under it will feel cared for.

Doing this quilt is a reminder how it is not always necessary to stick with the usual plan.  Sometimes a dilemma presents itself that requires creative thinking.  The solution doesn’t have to be !00% of this. It could be 81% of this and 12% of that and 7% of something else, still getting the job done well.  Somebody might have looked at this particular quilt top and thought it wasn’t worth saving for much of anything.  But as we quilt and tie it, the women remark on the fabrics and interesting piecing.  We figured out a solution and are making it work.  Yes indeed, it’s a beauty.

Try a bit harder

The holidays are happening. Snow is starting to pile up. Sidewalks are slippery. Bazaar sales at the Historical Village have gone well although of course we hope there will be last minute shoppers on December 22nd.  Last Friday the quilters had their annual party – a potluck and then gift exchange.  The delicious food put everyone in a sleepy mood but we continued sewing until our usual closing time.  Lynda and Sally even set up a second quilt that we will tie next week, a colorful cotton one Cathryn pieced.  Although I am often content to sit and talk rather than sew, the pace is such that I feel compelled to be as productive as the others (no easy task with this group of women).IMG_1830

As usual we are sewing, talking with any visitors who stop by to drop off something or to buy some lovely handmade item, and discussing how to raise money to cover the Village’s costs, and how to get all the things done from archiving to replacing broken pieces of the boardwalk.  It often feels there isn’t enough time for all we need to accomplish but somehow we still manage to listen to stories about families and friends, laugh at Bev’s jokes and grumble if the needle is not going through as easily as we might like.

Amidst the talk, different quilters talk about other volunteer work they are doing – helping with the Winter Bird Count, the library, the thrift store, the church.  Its amazing how these individuals find time to do all this to make our community as good as possible.  There might be a concern when we don’t see younger people stepping up to help with these projects and really in this case, younger is broad.  We not only think about high school students but adults in their twenties to fifties.  Of course there are volunteers but there never seems to be quite enough.  So we hope some folks out there will put volunteering down as a New Year’s resolution.  Once a week for a few hours surely would mean a lot.

The Place to Shop

Yes, it has been too long.  Quilts have been started and even finished since the last post. And there were some lovely ones. The women are working hard to keep up with the requests – a quilt made from t-shirts a car buff collected, a quilt started thirtysome years ago and pulled out to be finished, a quilt someone made for a person she loves very much.  And now besides quilting every Friday, the women are also hard at it making items for their annual bazaar on December 2nd.  sallyquilt

You won’t want to miss this bazaar.  There are many events happening in Eureka over the first weekend in December but the bazaar at the Historical Village is by far the best.  Handmade baby quilts, aprons, crocheted hats and mittens, tree ornaments, items for your kitchen and items for your bedroom (lovely pillow cases that will be immediately snatched up) are available.  There are the most delicate pine needle baskets made by Cathryn and some of Mary Louise’s hand dipped chocolates for sale.  There will be a raffle for a basket of treats.  Thick and soft flannel quilts hand tied so quite affordable are for sale in colors that call your name.

The prices for these handmade items are definitely within anyone’s budget and besides that – all the proceeds go directly to the Historical Village.  No percentage for this or that, no fees or undisclosed costs.  When you purchase something at the bazaar in the old school house this Saturday, all the money from your purchase helps maintain the Historical Village.  Your Village which keeps the archives and the artifacts and the memories of our valley as well as offering a wonderful place for events like Rendezvous, the Eureka MT Quilt Show and Shakespeare in the Parks.  Do you need any other reason to come to the Historical Village bazaar on Saturday morning?  We open at 9:00am.

Leaves falling

Yes, we are working on the quilt with the beautiful star.  It is taking time but last week we finally made the first turn.  Meanwhile, Cathryn tied a lovely quilt made of so many different flannel squares. Its a beauty and will certainly find a good home this winter.  Then next Friday we put a second quilt on a frame to sew.  There is a good crew coming on Fridays at this point.  Sally is joining us before she gets too busy with making Cimg_5002hristmas wreaths. No one is traveling so all four sides of the first frame were full of women quilting.  More room is needed so the second quilting frame will allow us to spread out a bit.

I know I mentioned this before but it is true enough and good enough that it deserves to be mentioned again. The individuals who quilt in this group are wonderful individuals.  I listen to them tell stories about grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Joan laments about one of her cats.  Lynda sorts out the business aspects of managing the Historical Village. We ask each other who heard from Cathy who is living overseas this year and who has been in touch with Bonnie.  Is she is Idaho visiting family?  And there is also talk about growing old and who might help Karla who is having a tough time.

Thankfully no one mentions the upcoming election. I know all these women will vote although we don’t talk about it while quilting.  I don’t know who they will vote for but they will each in her own way study the list of candidates and the various ballot measures and issues. They take citizenship seriously.  They won’t listen to a spouse or grown son tell them whom to vote for.  They won’t show up at the polling place unprepared.  These women to the fullest extent take citizenship seriously.   There isn’t a one who doesn’t contribute to the community in numerous ways: volunteering with the library or a church group, making donations to the food bank,  dropping off a casserole to an ailing neighbor, attending local events.  This particular group of women set the bar high.  If everyone contributed as much as these women, sincerely caring about their community and neighbors we would be better off. If everyone seriously studied issues and candidates before voting and did not engage in empty political feuds, we could discuss what matters.

There are Fridays when I feel that these women are maintaining the fabric of our town as they sit around the frames quilting.  Thank goodness they are here.

Edging past midWinter

We are working on two lovely quilts which both take a fair amount of concentration.  They are both good size as well so we will be sewing on them for some weeks.  But I can tell by the light that comes through the schoolhouse windows that we are past the darkest days of this winter and we will probably be shifting into spring when we finish these two up.  IMG_1330Sometimes visitors ask about the prices of our quilts because, of course, who wouldn’t want to own one of these beauties.  Last week Renata encouraged me though to get the word out that besides the hand quilted ones that we sew, we also tie quilts that are extremely affordable and cozy as well. The three pictured here are made from flannel so especially warm for those chilly nights.  And the prices which are based on the quilt’s size range from $75 – $125.  One of our more experienced quilters, usually Cathryn, pieces them and then the quilt is put on a frame so that we can all help tie. Needless to say, the photo doesn’t do them justice so you really want to stop by the schoolhouse on a Friday to touch them.  There are some Fridays when I am particularly tired from the week and feel tempted to cover up with one in a corner for a nap. But as the other quilters don’t see this as a possibility, I just have another cup of Joan’s coffee and keep quilting.

Recently I started writing about these quilters for a longer article and it surprised me how much can  be said. Not only about the wonder of these particular women because they are each quite special, but about the hand quilting process itself and how it reflects so much what is needed in our communities.  Reading the news with countless descriptions of physical violence and sharp words, the reality of these women sitting together helping to solve problems, offering gentle advice and support to each other while creating a beautiful quilt that will be used for years to come brings solace. I hope that the rhythm of their stitches and the focus brought by the group working around the frame on something useful and comforting can help balance the woes that lay heavy on our world.