Saturday, August 26, 2017

Nancy Gets the Quilt Pox

I am glad to have an upbeat post after sharing my very bad year!
At my quilt frame, wearing a dress I made. 
In January 1991. at a mom and pop grocery store in downtown Hillsdale, I opened a quilt magazine and saw a quilt of appliqued leaves. I thought, I'm going to make my brother a quilt for his college graduation.

Gary and Chris at a church ice cream social.
Chris in a short set I made.
I had been sewing clothes for my son, short and shirt sets and Velcro closing jackets, and dresses for myself. The lady at the fabric shop downtown always asked if I made quilts and I always said no. I did not think I could do it.

I gathered fabric scraps from sewing projects because I thought that's how quilts were made. I cut out the leaves and machine sewed them on to backing squares, sewed the squares together and added borders. I did not cut off the selvages and the printed selvage showed in one seam! I did not remake it.
My first quilt, Maple Leaf
In my ignorance, I bought a spool of button hole thread to quilt it. I layered the quilt top with batting and a backing. And proceeded to hand quilt without a thimble or a hoop. I was really basting it together.

It was a hot mess. But my Grandmother Gochenour was visiting Dad and he brought her to visit for a day. She was impressed. She said she always wondered if I would "do anything." I finished the quilt and presented it to my brother upon his graduation from Lawrence Technological University.

I sent a photo to the magazine that had the pattern and they shared it.
A newspaper notice about appearing in the magazine
I immediately started another quilt. I liked a block pattern in a magazine of a simple four square block with an appliqued heart in the center. It didn't have instructions for a full quilt.

For fabric, I decided to use Mom's painting smocks in red plaids. I had a Georgia Bonesteel book on the quilt as you go method where each block is quilted and then the layered blocks are sewn together, and that is how I constructed the quilt.
My second quilt, A Mother's Love Will Always Keep You Warm
in which I used Mom's plaid painting smocks
I was in the middle of the quilt when Gary told me that a new church member was a quilter and wanted to meet me. Holly had studied with the Amish and took one look at Hot Mess No. 2 and decided she had to teach me a few things.

She spent an afternoon at the house showing me how to applique, use a thimble, and the quilt stitch. My second quilt shows the progression from ignorance to basic competence.
Chris with Christopher's World, my third quilt.
By this time I was hooked. I made Chris a quilt using the Moon Over the block, made with jungle fabric from curtains I had made for his room and a fish fabric. This time I had to take it apart and remake it as I did not check that the blocks were a uniform size first. Holly let me put the quilt on her quilt frame to baste.
A House for All Seasons used the Madison House block from Quilts! Quilts! Quilts!
I made a quilt with twelve house quilt blocks, one for each season, and wrote an article on living in a parsonage and dreaming of a house of my own and sent it to Quilt Magazine who published it for $25.
Nancy Goes Reto incorporated an incomplete 1930s top (pink blocks)
I bought an incomplete top from an antique shop and finished a 1930s Bow Tie quilt, Nancy Goes Retro. The added blocks included reproduction 30s fabrics and vintage fabrics.

I made a quilt for both of my grandmothers and for my mom's sister.

I made my Grandmother Gochenour an old-fashioned quilt,
a scrappy Bow Tie with hand quilting.
Grandma (Greenwood Ramer) Fisher with her quilt.
I set up a quilt room in the basement. The room was huge, one end well lighted, and it was well heated. Chris had a playroom on one side and kept himself busy while I sewed, making cities and roads with the fabric scraps and empty spools.
"The Quilters" hand quilting around a quilt frame
Holly and I joined the quilt group that met at the church. The ladies made quilt tops and sat around a frame to hand quilt, and sold the finished quilts. They used the funds to support charities.
A star sample made by The Quilters 
These ladies taught me so much. We went on group trips to quilt shops and quilt shows. We sold quilts in Topeka, IN and displayed them at Sauder Farm, OH.
Newspaper article on The Quilters includes information about the members, including me (beginning at lower right above and continuing below).
Newspaper article about The Quilters.
I am at the near right.
When I learned that the ladies had once put on a quilt show I started bugging them to have a show while Gary and I were still there. Sure, they said, if I do the organizing they would help with the manpower.

I knew I could do that. I did the advertising, made flyers, got ads and articles in the local paper, and listed the show in national magazines. We called it The Quilter's Palette and we ran it in conjunction with the annual town art and garden tour.
Newspaper article on the Quilter's Palette
with photo of my Sunflower applique quilt In the Garden
The show was a success. I had drawings with names and addresses so when we decided to run it the second year I had a mailing list to send postcards to. The second show was a success as well.

Newspaper article about the Quilter's Palette
showing quilts by Claire Booth

My Woodland Christmas 
I entered Quiltmaker Magazine's design contest twice. I won $100 each time, first for Dobbin's Fan and second for a Christmas Tree pattern. But I found out that they changed up my design quite a bit!
Quiltmaker Magazine with pattern based on my submission
I found the Dobbin's Fan block in an old book. It was
adopted for a pattern in Quiltmaker Magazine.
When a speaker from the Michigan State University Museum came to town to talk about the Michigan Quilt Project I saw a slide of a quilt I just loved, the Mountain Mist Sunflower Quilt. I bought the pattern, gathered fabrics, and hand appliqued and hand quilted it. I added bugs and creatures to the pattern. I had become a very good hand quilter.
In The Garden was my first big applique project.
With me and Chris.
In 1993 I saw a magazine advertisement for Handkerchief Quilts by Sharon Newman and I had to make a hanky quilt. I started collecting handkerchiefs and over the years have made numerous handkerchief quilts. I have 1,000 handkerchiefs in my collection!
Working on handkerchief quilts
We did not have much money and I wanted to my hobby to pay for itself. I taught basic skill classes at a quilt shop in Jackson, MI, sold quilts, and even was commissioned to make quilts.
One of my commissioned quilts was a Georgia Bonesteel pattern. Hand quilted.
We had missed P.J. so much after losing him. Chris and Gary were clamoring for another dog. I thought Chris was too young, and I did not want a dog that barked all the time or who thought it was the boss. I suggested Gary talk to the vet for suggestions.

The vet introduced Gary to Lacy who was in the office to be spade. She had given birth and the home breeders could not find homes for all the puppies. Lacy had one girl still needing a home. Gary liked Lacy and that evening he took Chris and I to meet Kili.
Chris and Kili. They have the same smile!
Kili was a four-month-old Shiba Inu. We just loved her and the next day brought her home. She was house broken and crate trained and was very well adjusted. She was the heart of our family for almost seventeen years.

Kili and Me
After Chris started Kindergarten I applied for jobs. I was hired to run a children's time at a bookstore in Jackson, MI. I read a book and led a craft project related to the book. I took my guitar and sang a song, too. I made a vest and I always wore it and a denim skirt.
newspaper article about my storyteller position at a bookstore
I applied to be a reading aid in the school. I did not get the job although the people I would have worked with were eager to have me. The Superintendent of Schools and I did not get along during the interview, especially after he asked illegal questions. I also applied to work for the library downtown, but the job went to a local man.

But I kept busy anyways. I taught a class for Senior Citizens through Discovery Through the Humanities.

When an opinion column appeared castigating the normalization of gay and lesbian parents I wrote a countering opinion. I had no idea how radical this was to do in a small community.

  I received several letters of support.

Chris was inattentive at school and after teachers complained we pressed the school to test him. They discovered what I already knew: in first grade, he read at a fifth-grade level and was a grade ahead in math. I had spent a lot of time with Chris, reading and doing learning activities. I later realized I had been homeschooling. Plus, PBS shows like Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street taught him all the basics.

Starting after Christmas break Chris was jumped to second grade with warnings that children rarely adjust. He was determined and did well. By third grade, he was happy and loved school. He had also joined the Scouts and Little League.

Gary and I had bought a pump organ and Gary took classes at the Conklin Reed Organ Museum to learn how to restore it. He also refinished a 1850s rosewood meoldian and bought a 1913 Victrola and started collecting 78 records.
Newspaper article on Gary's project restoring a pump organ
I had stumbled upon an auction one day and was fascinated. Gary and I soon were going to auctions, buying antiques, and for a while, I even had a booth in a local antique mall.

My quilt group made new church paraments and I contributed several sets.
I created the parament sets on the bottom.
Clair Booth made the communion sets on the top.
Church Conference report with photo showing parament I made
I made a liturgical stole for Gary and Easter Sunrise for behind the altar.

Easter Sunrise quilt by Nancy A. Bekofske
When an exchange student from Russia stayed with a parishioner's family I made a signature quilt for him so he could remember the church friends he had made in America.
Signature quilt I made for the Russian exchange student (on the left)
Our last year in Hillsdale I got a job as a part time church secretary at the Lutheran Church and also several temporary full-time jobs at Hillsdale College. I would have been hired full time at Hillsdale College but we knew we were going to be moved. How that happened is another story.

Hillsdale UMC

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