Despite the warm days, one can sense fall slowly approaching. The days are starting to get noticeably shorter and the nights just a tad cooler. The fields are mostly a dry golden now and the aspen are just beginning to show bits of yellow. The quilters met a few times over the summer for picnics at the Historical Village, sitting out in front of the museum to catch up on each others’ lives. And it was during one of these summer afternoons that the decision was made to start quilting again in September. We will put two quilts up on large frames so we don’t have to sit so close together, and of course those who want will wear masks. Sally pieced a couple tops that will get us started.
With the lack of large events for the Tobacco Valley Board of History, we weren’t able to sell many raffle tickets for this year’s quilt. Then the Lincoln County Fair which is where the winning ticket is typically drawn was cancelled. So the quilters decided to carry over the lovely blue sampler quilt until next summer. It will give us an opportunity to sell more raffle tickets and hopefully the fair will be in full swing next August. This is, of course, great news for you if you haven’t bought your raffle ticket yet. Now you have an entire year to catch up with one of the quilters or to stop by the old school house on a Friday starting in September.
We will take this opportunity to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who submitted their membership to the Tobacco Valley Board of History. It has been a challenging year and to receive so many memberships that allow us to continue to maintain the grounds and buildings is deeply appreciated. If by chance, your membership form is still sitting in a pile of papers on your desk, it isn’t too late to mail it in.
Just enough going on that it made sense to let you know. First a loud ‘hurrah!!’ for selling our beautiful Piano Keys quilt online. This is the first time we attempted this sort of sale for one of our own quilts, but as we missed our winter fundraiser (The Wardens concert) and our May rummage sale, we needed to try something new. We announced the quilt for sale on Facebook to see if it would sell. And it did! It was an awesome experience as there was so much interest – not only in the Tobacco Valley but across the country. We are encouraged to try in again, perhaps once a year depending on our quilt production. Sincere thanks to everyone who showed enthusiasm, asked for photos, expressed interest and – to the fine person who bought it. The photo shows the women quilting during the winter. Quite the beauty – measured 100″ x 100″ when done. Very special thanks to Cathryn (pictured below) who finished quilting it after we stopped meeting as a group in March, and to Lynda who did all 400″ of binding on it.
And as we move into the summer season at the Historical Village, we are being cautious about keeping our community and our volunteers healthy and safe. We have currently postponed opening the museum, planning to announce dates in June. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful park down at the Historical Village. Please remember to leave it as tidy as you find it. Thanks.
Well, let’s start with what’s not happening at the moment and then move on to current activities. Our winter fundraiser scheduled in March with the awesome Canadian band, The Wardens, was cancelled as the diligent thing to do considering all the factors. Although we were very sorry to miss the opportunity to have these musicians perform here in the Tobacco Valley, it only made sense for them to be home and for us not to be gathering. Friday quilting has been postponed for the foreseeable future and this is certainly a tough one to accept. It made all of us realize that although one reason we sew together is to raise money for the Historical Village, a bigger part is sitting with this remarkable group of women, sharing stories, sharing laughs, offering each other love and support.
Despite the challenges of missing our Fridays together, there are things we are doing even while observing social distancing. Cathy organized sewing face masks for the local medical clinic and a number of quilters helped on this. Carmen shared her delicious tamales which makes any day seem much brighter. Sally is busy getting seedlings and such ready for May gardens. Lydna has a new puppy. Cathryn took the quilt we had been working on home (the one we fondly call ‘piano keys’) so it wouldn’t feel bereft alone in the old school house. Despite the gray, snowy weather that we’ve been getting, flowers are starting to push up their first tender leaves. And the lilac bushes at the Historical Village actually have buds.
No doubt we will be very appreciative when we get back together again. Perhaps there will be so much talking that very little quilting will get done at first.
It does seem the ideal time to think about trying new things. No doubt there are people out there who make New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language or take up skiing or make Cha Siu Bao (pork dumplings) and actually manage to do it. We can take this as a sign that it is never too late to learn a skill, to take a different path, to try something new. Many of our quilters are fine examples of this.
Recently we began to set up the next quilt we will be working on. We had carefully put together the frame and measured to be sure to center the fabric for the quilt back. Tacked the fabric all around and then realized the back had been pieced. There was a seam down the middle but it hadn’t been ironed flat. A detail we were determined to correct despite numerous sighs that this would require untacking the fabric in order to take it off to iron. Then Cathy and Lynda had the brainstorm to iron the backing while it was on the frame. Although some of us scoffed at this idea, they actually managed to do it and do it well.
Although we have been around long enough to realize that not everything is possible – there are quite a lot of things that are which are worth trying. As we begin 2020, we hope you consider trying something new to support your community and help yourself along the way. We all certainly have a lot of potential waiting to be put to good use.
January 3 10am at Historical Village – Board of History meeting. Public welcome
March 14 4pm at Lodgecraft Building (Eureka) The Wardens Concert!
Quilting every Friday 10am – 3pm at the old school house in the Historical Village.
The quilters are well into their fall flurry. One quilt is nearly done (you can tell when knees and elbows start touching), one tied, and another hand quilted one that was pieced by Sally started this week. The large table with items for our Holiday Bazaar is overflowing with wonderful items made by the women: potholders, baby quilts, aprons, hand embroidered tea towels and pillow cases, casserole covers, hats, scrubbies and more. All proceeds go directly to help maintain the Historical Village. Mark your calendar for December 7.
And then the Tobacco Valley Board of History will be having a fundraiser at HA Brewery from 4:00 – 7:00pm on November 27th. The Pint Night features live music, a huckleberry pie raffle, a good time connecting with friends, and $1 off every beverage sold that night given to help maintain our valley’s heritage. Hope to see you there. And in case you don’t know, HA Brewery now offers a fantastic menu so plan to come hungry.
All at once the summer finished up and today the museum at the Historical Village will close for winter. The quilters met last week at the old school house to begin their season. They set up the first quilt to work on, a lovely Dresden plate design that belongs to a woman in Oklahoma. After discussion about which pattern to use for quilting, we settled down to sew. We hadn’t met as a group since the middle of May so our needles and thimbles felt a bit rusty but in no time at all we were in the flow.
A woman in Rollins, MT won last year’s raffle quilt. A lovely lavender one pieced by Vivian Vanleishout and quilted by the women at the Historical Village. This year’s raffle quilt is one of my favorites. Each of the quilters made 2-4 unique blocks from various shades of blue and rose that Sally selected. After piecing them together, the fun began as each block needed to be quilted differently. Raffle tickets go on sale soon and then next August at the county fair, a lucky winner will be selected. It could be you (if you buy the right ticket). You are certainly welcome to stop by the old school any Friday between 10am – 3pm to see this special quilt.
As you put together your schedule for the upcoming season, you want to keep in mind a few important dates. On Wednesday, November 27, the Tobacco Valley Board of History will have a Pint Night at HA Brewery. A dollar for every beverage sold will be donated for maintenance of the Historical Village. Always a fun evening (this is our third annual!) with a huckleberry pie to raffle and great music. Be sure to come out to enjoy the evening with us.
On March 14, another great fundraiser is a concert in Eureka featuring The Wardens, an awesome Canadian band who performed here in 2018. Songs and stories of the backwoods, wildlife and life as a ‘government cowboy’ will fill the evening. The concert starts at 4pm; tickets available at the door. More details to follow.
And just in case you live in the Tobacco Valley and are interested in learning to hand quilt or volunteering, know we would be glad to see you. Stop by the school house in the Historical Village on Fridays when we are quilting to find what you might do.
The women who quilt on Fridays are hopeful. Sun comes through the school house windows making our space delightfully warm. It also helps us see the stitches we make, the patterns we follow. The old overhead lights in the school house aren’t the best and there’s discussion about replacing them. What would be economical as well as provide the best lighting for quilting through long Montana winters?
But today most things look possible. The sun helps. Yes, there’s still snow outside but it is not nearly as deep, and walking to the school house from the parking lot is so much easier than it was a month ago. There are times when it seems a video of these women might convey more of what they do to support the Historical Village than a blog. Our quilters slogging through snow on a frigid Friday morning, the pile of boots and coats accumulating at the door as everyone sits down to quilt would certainly be a piece of the footage.
This past Friday some of us didn’t even wear coats as it seems just possibly we are on the verge of Spring. There was talk about the fundraiser we held at the Trego Civic Center a few weeks back and appreciation for everyone who came out to support that. There was talk about the book sale we will have during Eureka’s Rendezvous. There was talk about the work that needs to be done over the summer, possible repairs, painting, etc. And, of course, there was talk about the beautiful quilts we are working on. One belongs to a friend of Sally’s, pieced from fabric the woman’s mother-in-law saved from her children’s clothes, fabric that was put away in the 1950s and now is being finished into a quilt to be used.
The other quilt (as we usually have two going) was pieced by a woman in Oklahoma. The design and fabric are by Kaffe Fassett, a name most of us didn’t know but now we do. A man who obviously has quite the eye for colors and designs and the ability to put these together in amazing ways. We muse whether he might want us to hand quilt one of his own quilts as we all believe hand quilting lends such a different feel. We see he’s doing quilt events at a museum in England this month and wonder if he might enjoy Eureka in the summer, perhaps for the Quilt Show on August 3rd. There is a mixture of laughter and excitement. The group doesn’t have expectations for fame but there is always thoughts about how to spread the word about the Historical Village and our work.
Thanks to all of you who support Pint Night for the Historical Village, and those who submit memberships for the Tobacco Valley Board of History, and those who come by the old school house to purchase gifts and buy quilts. Thanks to everyone of you who made donations of fabric or checks or time. And of course special thanks to the quilters who sew each Friday and the other volunteers who help maintain the museum. Recently Dave Leeman said, “The Historical Village is a jewel. We’re so lucky to have it here.” Of course I had to agree with him. It’s our community’s history.
Last Friday a woman from another Montana town stopped by the old school house to visit. She had a few hours to spend so sat down to watch the quilters and was encouraged to give it a try. She was hesitant at first to try stitching on the large quilts, so we found her a small piece of fabric and a hoop to practice on.
It is so encouraging to watch an adult learn something new. Of course any of us can learn something new if we put our minds to it. Sign up for a class to learn Spanish. Ask a friend to teach us how to grow corn in northwest Montana. Take an online writing course. Read a book about the history of China. It is surprising that with so many opportunities to learn a new thing, we often go through life assuming we know enough. Or that we are too busy to take the time to learn.
It isn’t necessary here to go into all the evidence how learning something new helps brains build connections between neurons. Or how research shows lifelong learning is connected to successful aging. The question is – why would any of us put off learning a new thing when there are so many options available? Mary Louise, one of the skilled quilters who comes to the old school house on Fridays, started quilting at ninety years old. Bev was in her eighties when she decided to learn how a smart phone works and now regularly texts, sends photos, and enters reminders. Shirley, a skilled musician in our town, recently told me she didn’t start playing accordion until she was in her sixties. Morgan, a busy parent with three children, wrote her first play and will direct it this December as part of the community theater.
We can all offer excuses at the end of the day. We are already doing too much, or are just too tired to take on one more thing, or – heaven forbid – we don’t need to learn anything else. But before you brush aside an opportunity to learn something new, think about it. Maybe it will only take a few hours a week to start studying Japanese. Maybe rather then mindless screen time, you can sign up for a class. Or ask a neighbor to teach you to weld. Or stop by the old school house on a Friday morning to learn to quilt.