"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Quilter's Legacy

We are under a winter storm watch and expecting a significant blizzard starting, tonight.  They are predicting that it could rival our 2009 Christmas Eve blizzard but more than likely it won't be quite that bad.  During the 2009 Christmas Eve blizzard, Oklahoma City officially got 14 inches but we only got  7 - 8 inches at the house.  The city area forecast, this time, is 8 - 12 inches and it will be much, much colder.   The 2009 blizzard looked like this at our house:
Travel is expected to pretty much be shut down by about six o'clock in the morning but we aren't planning to go anywhere, anyway.  I've got a beef stew cooking in the crockpot and we have left overs from family who came by, yesterday.  Filet Mignon and grilled salmon - not too shabby.  Combine that with a roaring fire, good wine, better companions (including the girls), and being snowed in doesn't sound half bad. 

Here are Pearl and Evelyn looking out my sewing room window at a bunny that is mocking them because it knows they can't get out:

Don't look at the dirty window.   Been meaning to clean it.  Sometime next spring:
Happily, at this point they think it will be more snow event than an ice one so power outages are less likely.  All the same, we'll be hauling the generator over from the barn to have ready, just in case.  This storm is bringing in single digit temperatures with very high winds so the windchill is going to make it very miserable, outside.  Moreover, the low temperatures will last a few days which means the snow may stick around longer than we'd like (although we had a high of 75 on Friday, we are only expecting a high of 15 on Tuesday and 14 on Wednesday!).  No one likes this kind of storm due to the risk to life and limb but I am ecstatic that we'll be getting some significant moisture.  We really need to break the drought.  I want my new trees to be okay:
Hope Grandson schedules his arrival around my schedule - although I suspect his mama would just as soon he show up sooner rather than later.  He isn't officially due for another two weeks so odds are it will all work out splendidly.

I want you to take a look at the following photos of two quilt tops.

No. 1:
 No. 2:
No, I didn't make them but aren't they fantastic?  The quilter who did them had an incredible sense of color and a bold sense of design, I'd say.  The backs are just about perfect:
When I first looked at them, they were in a bin with large matching fabric remnants, perfectly pressed and not a dog hair on them.  You don't see that much around here: 
 So tidy and neat:
I love and admire the color choices and the bold border:
They were so beautifully done that I took a ton of photos:

 I'm just in love with this one:

So, you ask, if I didn't make them, who did?  No, it wasn't some thirty-something trendy quilter from NYC.  It wasn't a young Amish woman from Pennsylvania.  It wasn't a modern artist-gone-quilter or anything like that.  These were done by a quilter who passed away a couple of years ago.  The quilter's  mid-fifty year old SON gave several bins of fabric to my brother-in-law's wife to pass on to me and these quilt tops were included in the fabric bins.  MID FIFTIES YEAR OLD SON.   That means the quilter who made these had to be in HIS late seventies or eighties, at least.  Yes, it was an old man.  How fantastic is that?   

This man had clearly been quilting for a long time - you could see it in the workmanship, his choice in quality fabric, the sensible way he arranged his stash and the age of his thread:
But more than that, the competency he had in his stitches, his love of color (and excellent eye, I might add - I have more of his fabric arranged by group and his color sense is spot on), along with his bold, modern designs scream self confidence, experience and maturity as a quilt artist.  Not only that, but the dang quilt tops are perfectly squared.  The man even had made bindings already pressed and carefully folded in anticipation of use!

I'm dying here. 

Look at this little bit of his stash/orphan blocks:
He is just so...well... MODERN!  He isn't a bit afraid to mix and match stripes and dots and his choices just, well, they just WORK.  His quilts could be featured in a quilting magazine you'd pick right off the shelf, today.  He had some synthetics in his stash but set aside, as if he used them for something else.  He stuck to good quality 100% cotton in his quilting stash, the tops and a few orphan blocks I found.  He'd also set back some backing fabric (designed to contrast with solid colored tops), all carefully marked "six yards." The backings were perfect color matches/contrasts for the geometric, solid colored tops:
The man knows what he likes.
 You can tell - the man loved color and he loved to make it POP:
Let me interject that it really doesn't matter that the quilter was a man rather than a woman.  It is just that there are so fewer men and women quilters at his age and it is clear he'd been doing it for awhile. 

Wonder if his wife sewed?  Wonder if he was a tailor?  Wonder who taught him?  I have so many questions.

Sister-in-law wasn't sure the son even realized the quilt tops were included in the fabric bins and she asked me if I could quilt them, which I am honored to do.  She wants to give them back to the family, which seems appropriate.  As gorgeous as his work is, and as experienced as he clearly was, I suspect there are other quilts he has made that the family already has.  All the same, these are too wonderful of treasures to not stay with the family.  Once quilted, they are going to look stunning. 

If I don't screw 'em up, anyway.  I am about to go order some black thread for the longarm. 

But it is hard, I tell you.  I am tempted to make replicas for myself because I am completely in lust with these quilt tops. 

I would have loved to have met this man and learned at his feet.  And it doesn't matter than he was a man and not a woman - this person was a master quilter.  Presumably, his children didn't follow in his footsteps - otherwise, the fabric and tops wouldn't have escaped, even temporarily. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

Your doggies are SO beautiful, thank you for sharing!

bernie said...

WOW and WOW WOW WOW. I am blown away by these quilts and the story behind them. You are a sweetheart for sharing them - so beautiful. Bernie

Miriam said...

What a treasure trove you have there!!!
I wonder if he kept any journals or notes about his quilts?

I hope the cold weather doesn't last too long....I will gladly trade you some heat. It is 97 here and it is only 10am!

The girls are looking gorgeous! :)

Thearica said...

You hit the mother lode! Those are fantastic!

swooze said...

They are weonderful!

Sherry said...

Love the bright colors! One of my great grandmother's quilt tops was orange and red and lime green. 1st DH liked it so much he wanted it in his truck (18-wheeler). It wasn't very good fabric and started deteriorating rather quickly. Some kind of synthetic. But he REALLY liked it and kept it on his bunk through 3 or 4 trucks.

Brrrr...DH drove my Tahoe yesterday and brought it back bumping empty. Sigh. I forgot it today so will have to fuel up first thing in the morning.

Stephanie D. said...

I love quilts made with solids--just sheer color. After a few dreary weeks of winter I crave color. I hope his family appreciates your sending back the tops--you'll have to tell them how we all drooled over them!

Stay cozy!

sewnut said...

What an amazing story - that they are so stunning, nd they came to someone who could appreciate their value.
I am sure you will only add to these treasures with your quilting.

Jeanne Turner McBrayer said...

I love the picture of the snowy white dogs with the colorful quilt top! Those quilt tops are fantastic.

ranette said...

Penny...I read this post quickly last night on my phone and didn't leave a comment, but I thought about these wonderful quilts ALL NIGHT LONG...LOL I LOVE them! I don't think I would be able to give them back to the family...so you are a very good person.

The quilts are kind of reminiscent of the Gee's Bend quilts, but better, way better. I'm excited to see how you quilt them and you'll do a great job! Thank you so much for sharing them and furthering my obsession with solids!

The girls look so pretty....stay warm!

Marija said...

WOW! I can't decide what I love more - quilts or your two beautiful dogs! Being a quilter who loves clear colors, I LOVE these quilts and having also a Northern breed dog (a 3 year-old Alaskan Malamute named Marley), I am totally partial to your lovely girls! Thanks for sharing all the photos and story - looking forward to more!
PS - I live in snowy Buffalo NY, so feeling your storm anxiety, although for us it is an "every day" thing this time of the year! :)

Penny said...

Thanks, all. I was told I had to give up the quilt tops before I accepted them to quilt. Good thing, because I might have refused, otherwise. :)
Marija, sounds like we have a lot in common!

BilboWaggins said...

Even before I read your comment about dirty glass I was thinking "puppy nose prints on the windows" {grin}. Great photos of the girls as always. Stay safe in this storm.

Paula said...

Beautiful quilt tops. Already put them on my to do list. Great story to go along with the tops. It's surprising that nobody followed in his footsteps. The girls are gorgeous, as always.