More Quilt Stories from the Road

The Sugar Pine Company can be found in the scenic Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, Alberta, just a short drive from Banff.  Alcoves, shelves and walls are packed with material, quilts, fabric packs and all manner of quilting inspiration, beautifully displayed.  There was lots to explore around every corner.  It is a sewing and knitting shop as well. Continue reading “More Quilt Stories from the Road”

Quilt Stories from the Road

This month my husband and I explored a bit of central B.C.  Besides enjoying the mountains, ranch lands, canyons, lakes and waterfalls, I managed to do a bit of quilt spotting.  That’s my department.

Dancing Quilts   In 100 Mile House I visited a quilt shop called Dancing Quilts.  There were lovely quilts on the walls, lots of bags on display, popular with customers, and tempting fabric.  Faith, the owner, and her staff were very welcoming.  There are several guilds in the area, and I can imagine quilt making being an enjoyable activity during the cold and snowy Cariboo winter.

Dancing Quilts quilt shopDancing Quilts quilt shopDancing Quilts quilt shop

This quilt-as-you-go quilt was made by Faith and is one of her most popular classes.


Barkerville   We visited the historic town of Barkerville, in the mountains east of Quesnel.  In 1862 Billy Barker struck gold there, setting off a massive gold rush.  The town had 2,000 residents at one point.  Barkerville today is a living history museum with old wooden buildings full of artifacts and street performers bringing the past to life again.


Quilts and old sewing machines were in some of the buildings.


In a small museum devoted to the arts, crafts and tools of Barkerville residents, I read the following:

“Sewing circles and quilting bees played important roles in the community.  They allowed busy women to meet socially and produce useful articles.  These get-togethers provided opportunities for women to plan weddings and other events, to exchange news of births, deaths and marriages; to learn about fashion trends; to share successes and problems; and to discuss community issues.

The handicrafts that have been created through women’s meticulous labour, though never fully appreciated in the past, are slowly being recognized as works of art.”

When the sun set behind the hills around the town and the air chilled, it was easy to imagine that the residents of old time Barkerville would have valued a cozy quilt.


The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge   In the town of Chase we learned about a donkey refuge in the area.  The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge is a haven for abused, neglected and abandoned donkeys where they can live out their lives in a caring and protective environment.

Nineteen years ago, Rob and Shirley became the owners of their first two donkeys.  Today, the refuge they built is home to more than 100 donkeys.  A small team of people care for the animals and are working hard to make the refuge sustainable into the future through various fund-raising endeavours.


In the Donkey Shoppe, I spied some quilted items for sale and learned that they had been donated by a North Vancouver quilter and a local quilt guild.

Thank you for the hot tea, Shirley, and to you and Rob for all the interesting and moving stories about the donkeys that live at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge.


Dianne Stevenson – Caring for Quilts

IMG_0470_edited-1Dianne Stevenson came to our April meeting with her presentation “C.P.R. – Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration: Breathing New Life into Old Textiles.”  We learned how to care for old quilts and how to prevent damage to newer quilts.

Dianne referred to herself as “the curator of an extensive textile collection,” describing textiles as “threads bound together.”  She is a collector of antique quilts and quilt tops – and wouldn’t you love to see her collection of miniature irons?  When she began to acquire quilts, she had to learn how to look after them.

She told us that quilts can be damaged by things such as light, humidity, and the chemicals present in some older fabrics.  Colours can fade, fabric can break down, and quilts can become spotted and stained.  Old quilts may be soiled by contaminants from kerosene lanterns and woodstoves.

As a quilt restorer, Dianne has to decide if a damaged quilt can be repaired.  She talked about “wet cleaning” which should be done only by professionals, and using fusibles and tulle to repair areas.  Damaged fabric edges should be turned under, and new, carefully matched fabric used to replace the empty space.  The “chin edges” of quilts are particularly vulnerable to wear and tear, as are bindings.  A new binding should be placed over the old damaged one.  To protect the integrity of the quilt, old fabric should not be removed.

Dianne told us how to vacuum our quilts (no bristles against the fabric) and gave us detailed and valuable instructions about how to wash them.  Were you a fan of the “I Love Lucy” show way back when?  Apparently, Dianne sometimes reenacts the grape-stomping episode in her bathtub when washing a quilt!

We were given ideas for storing our quilts.

  • Linen closets are good.
  • Fold quilts in thirds and then again in thirds.
  • Rolling quilts is even better, and Dianne provided detailed instructions for how to do this in the most effective way.
  • Pillowcases work well for storing quilts; never store them in plastic bags.
  • Keep quilts from touching any unsealed wood on dowels, quilt stands, and blanket boxes.

Dianne’s lively talk illustrated how quilts can lead us to the stories of their makers and reveal something of the times in which they lived.  Lots of intriguing subjects popped up, such as tobacco silks, Mennonite cutter quilts, and the Mississippi Textile Museum, a National Historic Site in Ontario.

Dianne told us that, sometimes, when faced with a damaged quilt, it’s best to leave it alone, and enjoy it as it is.

Visit Dianne Stevenson’s website here.

Click on any image to open a gallery of photos.


The Power of Quilts, with Yoskyl

Joan's Turkey Red quilt
Joan’s Turkey Red quilt

At our October meeting, we were treated to an engaging presentation called “The Power of Quilts,” given by one of our members.  Yoskyl is a retired North Vancouver teacher librarian with a love of quilting and with a family tradition of handwork.   A version of this presentation is part of our “Have Quilts Will Travel” program.

Yoskyl talked about the history of quilting in Canada, how the culture and events of the times, the availability of fabrics and supplies, the changing roles of women, and advances in technology have all influenced quiltmaking through the years.

We heard stories about the earliest quilts brought to Canada by European immigrants, quilts made by women homesteading in isolated areas of the country, using what they had on hand to create warm bedding for their families, and quilts made by very young girls for their future marriages.  We heard about quilts made for charities to improve harsh social conditions caused by the Industrial Revolution.

Continue reading “The Power of Quilts, with Yoskyl”

Krista Hennebury Presentation

Temperature Check
Temperature Check

We were fortunate to have Krista Hennebury at our September meeting.  In an entertaining and informative presentation, she spoke to us about modern quilting and showed some of her quilts.

After a career as a geologist, Krista pursued her interest in quilting.  She gives presentations and trunk shows, leads workshops, hosts retreats and quilt cruises, and blogs.  Earlier this year, her book “Make It, Take It” was published.   Continue reading “Krista Hennebury Presentation”

Hearst Castle, California – A Quilting Connection

Casa Grande

Who knew I would be talking quilting during a visit to Hearst Castle!  This opulent mansion, high in the hills overlooking the Central California Coast, was built by William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), an American newspaper magnate.  He was one of the wealthiest men of his time, and actress Marion Davies (1897-1961) was his long-time partner.  They invited many of the rich and famous to extravagant parties at their castle during the golden days of Hollywood.

The architecture, gardens, and vistas at Hearst Castle are stunning.  One of the attractions is the Indoor Roman Pool.  As I was admiring the beautiful tiles there, and comparing their designs to quilt blocks, a guide nearby overheard me.  He told me that Marion Davies was a quilter, and that she had a sewing room near her bedroom in the castle.  I learned later that she designed her own quilts and in 1941 had won awards for them at a Los Angeles County Fair, where, of course, they received much attention.

This personal story about Marion Davies revealed another side to a woman surrounded by money and glamour, and gave me an interesting and unexpected memory about Hearst Castle.


What an interesting meeting!  Anne’s excellent talk on Quilts in the Underground Railroad did not dispell the myth but it did give us a better understanding of the possible code.

Anne’s references:

  • Burns, Eleanor, & Bouchard, Sue. Underground Railroad Sampler.  Quilt in a Day, California, 2003
  • Rubin, Stella.  How to Compare and Value American Quilts. Opus Publishing Group, London, 2001
  • Tobin, Jacqueline, & Dobard, Raymond.  Hidden in Plain View. Anchor Books, New York, 2000
  • New Pathways into Quilt History — a website that explores quilt history including links on the dispute that quilts were ever used in the Underground Railway
  • — a source for free quilt patterns

Here is the NVDPL list of books on the Underground Railroad.

Have you read a book, fiction or non-fiction, on the Underground Railroad?


March was the beginning of a history of Canada theme at our meetings.  Diane Stevenson presented a mini general history illustrated with maps and artifacts, including, a beaver pelt and hat.  For the quilting history part of her talk she showed many quilts which she or members of her family made and others which she has collected.

Diane Stevenson

Interesting! Find out more about Diane at her website – Black Crow Quilt Designs.