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.
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.
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 her.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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. Sometimes 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.