Author Jean Handley & Yelm Timberland Regional Librarian Kristin Blalack
Photo by Yelm community blog host Steve Klein
“For many years I have enjoyed gazing above my head when local quilters displayed their creations in the library. Months ago I asked Kristin Blalack, a librarian, when the next show would be. She explained that she didnt have the time to coordinate such an effort. She asked me if I did. I volunteered.
So did Yoshi Tokita-Schroder who brought her mother-in-law Dorothy Schroders hand sewn pieces and Margie Carputo a member of our local Prairie Points Quilt Guild. Respondents came from a little article in the Nisqually Valley News and word of mouth spread. I filled in the blanks with my own quilts and we were ready.
A quilt is constructed of two layers of fabric, solid or patchwork with a batting as loft that is stitched through all layers in an appealing pattern. Examples of quilting have been found in Egyptian tombs; used by knights to protect their bodies from armor; worn by Catholic priests during Henry VIIIs reign to disguise their official garments in order to say Mass in private homes; hung from clotheslines to direct runaway slaves to the North; and utilized by soldiers of the Civil War who took them to serve as bedding and in some cases, their casket.
In the United States early on, quilts were made of linen, wool and silk and used whole as most busy households had no time for creativity. Wealthy women on the East Coast had time and access to a variety of colors, usually imported, to play with. With the advent of the Singer sewing machine, time was freed up, cotton was becoming available and dyes had become more varied.
Patchwork quilts were all the rage. At the end of World War II interest waned as women stayed in the workforce and bought manufactured goods. With the Bicentennial came a resurgence of our heritage and quilts were part of that. Fabric designers, stores, guilds, galleries and museums all blossomed with this new wave.
Today, men, women and children participate in quilting. Whole cloth of all kinds, patchwork, collage, bedding, wearables and more all belong to the expanding art and skill of the quilt. This spirit is carried on display in the Yelm Timberland Library through the month of May.”
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