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Voices of Spencer Creek

What Is a Quilt?

A 1962 definition reads as follows: n. A bed cover made of two layers of cloth filled with down, etc. and stitched together in lines or patterns.

By Lois Barton

Posted on Sep 8, 2006

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"What Is a Quilt?" by Margie Ferguson

Quilts and quilting have been a familiar part of our family picture for several generations. My grandmother was one of a coterie of older Quaker women in a small rural Ohio village who were skillful hand quilters, somewhat scornful in their skill of those whose stitches were long and uneven.

My mother made Texas star quilts for all her children and some of her grandchildren and her nieces and nephews. I have photos of my burly farmer father, in his later retirement years busy with needle and thread at the quilt. Mother was astonished to learn that one of her Texas star quilts was hung on the bedroom wall as a piece of art. She thought she'd made a beautiful piece of bedding.

While living with my grandmother as a late teenager I cut and pieced and quilted, with her help, a full-sized flower garden quilt.

When daughter Margie was a young bride in 1968 her husband bought her a Vikiing sewing machine. One of the first things she did with it was to create a quilted wall hanging titled "What is a Quilt?" The hanging illustrates various aspects of such an item. It is snugly soft, warm, colorful with crazy patches and concludes with this bit of verse:

Embroidered designs that make the quilt gay

Are pleasures and duties we find on our way.

Hope, love and kisses are stitches so bright

Which decorate life with gleams of delight

While sympathy sweet is the lining to hold

The odd scraps of fate which we cannot control.

We are better than patchwork because of the soul.

(from an 1890 quilt)

Margie remembers piecing 4-patch blocks when she was an elementary school girl and having her grandmother help her to put them together into a twin-sized quilt.

Time marches on. I recently accompanied daughter Margie to Pomeroy House near Battleground, Washington, to attend an eleventh annual quilt show where she had ten quilts on display among many others entries. They were not all bed sized. Several were deliberately made for hanging.

This was the 4th show she has participated in this year. One show in Coburg had 25 quilts of Margie's, one show in Sisters had 7. Three were included in an Emerald Valley Quilters show. Last year and in previous years Margie showed quilts at the Lane County Fair, Ben Franklin Store, Coburg and elsewhere. She has earned a first place, a second place, a best of show, a special award, a superintendent's choice, and honorable mention. Admirers have purchased three of her quilts this year.

Margie has belonged to the Emerald Valley Quilters Guild since October, 2000. She has made dozens for community service needs through EVQ. She recently completed twenty-four 40x60 inch quilts that went to an orphanage in Nepal.

At one time Margie was an enthusiastic gardener, creating a showplace that one year was included in a fund-raising garden tour to benefit KLCC, our local public radio station. About 800 visitors enjoyed that occasion. For many years she hosted popular afternoon teas for guests, sometimes as many as 150 in four seatings on a weekend. The teas had themes appropriate to the season or favorite topics. There was an Anne of Green Gables theme, Winnie the Pooh, Lavendar and Old Lace, Valentines day, Christmas teas, even a train tea. They became very popular occasions and in suitable weather included a tour of that lovely garden. Margie published a recipe book featuring favorite recipes from the tea menus.

So what happened to the gardener and tea hostess? What strong family genes converted this active lady to quilt making? She admits that this was an unexpected evolution. She sees no reversal to former activities, expecting to continue creating colorful satisfying quilts as long as she is able.

Margie's work reveals a knack for artistic color and design. Her descriptions appended to quilts on display at Pomeroy House show how her mind works as she creates. That comment on the Blue Bottles on My Bookshelf quilt reads as follows: "my husband and sons are cabinet makers, and I decided to join them. The first shelf quilt I made was completed in 2003. A shelf like this is built a section at a time. 'What shall I put on this shelf?' is the question." It often requires a double take for people to realize that the bookshelf is a quilt. Margie plans to teach a class this fall on making such shelf quilts.

"A Bookcase Quilt" by Margie Ferguson

Another quilt named High Country Barns carries this description, "...I grew up in the country, spending many happy hours in the barn playing with my siblings as well as milking cows and doing related chores. Who wouldn't rather milk a cow than wash dishes..?"

Margie has converted the upper floor of their log cabin home into an ergonomic studio with cutting, ironing and assembly facilities and a wall sized design flannel. She has sewing machines that have embroidery and machine quilting capacities.

I have been astonished to learn how widespread and professional the quilting hobby has become while my attention was elsewhere. There are myriads of quiltiing books. Dozens on Margie's shelf. Fabric stores cater to quilters who have a sharp eye out for unique patterns and colors and often offer classes to quilters. Fabric exchanges between friends are common and fabric available online is a modern phenomenon. Enthusiasts plan weekend outings where they stitch together far from household routines. If one thinks back historically fabric skills have been prominent through the ages. So it is logical and appropriate that my daughter should metamorphose into a world class quilter, and I'm moved by the beauty of her creations and proud of what she is accomplishing.

Copyright © 2006 by Lois Barton

Look for more stories about Hawaii coming to The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte soon!

Writer and historian
Lois Barton

Lois Barton is an 88 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 50 years. All their children learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982 when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept; and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of the Soil.

Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood association, a precinct committee woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane County Historian, and a life-long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in 1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.

Follow the links of the Voices of Spencer Creek for the most recent articles by Lois Barton, including:

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Quakers in the British Virgin Islands

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Manta Rays, and Dandelions, A Poem, also introducing Carolann Krohn

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Those Husky Macadamia Nuts

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Fender's Blue, a Nine Day Wonder

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Frannie and the Arrow

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Bhavia's Cambodia

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of the Smoking Chimney

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of Big Oak Stables

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Fishy Story

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Different Peace

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Hal and the Mountain

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Rogue River Adventure

Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Obituary for a Country Cat

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Cortesia Sanctuary

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Tree and Me and Lady Slippers

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Cranberries

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Endurance Riding

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Butterflies and Community Development

and The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Last Gift.

See more of Lois Barton's articles in West By online magazine's archives:

Visit the Heron Rookery

Sauerkraut and All That

Charlotte's Overdose - Just who is Charlotte and what did she take?

The Midwife–The midnight call awoke an unusual midwife.

The Mystery of Fox Hollow - Fact and fiction meet in this story of the origins of Faith Rock.

Trees, Tame Trees and Squirrel.

© Copyright 2000-2004 by West By

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