KATHLEEN WARE, QUILTMAKER (c. 1979)
KW (KATHLEEN WARE): Hello.
TERRY: Hi . . . I saw your quilt sign outside and I’d like to look at your quilts
KW: Well, come on in . . . they're in the front room.
TERRY: OK. Looks like you're right in the middle of fixing lunch.
KW: Oh, yes. Gotta have something to eat around here.
TERRY: Smells good.
KW: Oh, I guess you do have quilts!
KW: Oh yes, there’ quite a few quilts here . . . Anything special you were interested in?
TERRY: Well, I’d like to look at the patterns that you have, to see what I’d like best. I’m kind of interested in a Star quilt since I’ve seen a lot of real pretty ones . . .
KW: I’ve got one in here that is not completely finished
TERRY: Ah . . . Look at this! I like this one a lot, but I think I’d like to look at some of the other tops that you have made before I decide for sure.
KW: I’ll show you a couple I got here. This is a Log Cabin . . .
TERRY: Oh, this is beautiful . . . Lots of small pieces, hm?
KW: Yes, it takes quite a bit of time to make one of these . .
TERRY: You always put blue in the center?
KW: No, you can put any color you want in it, with any color combination.
Here, I’ll show you another one over here too. Now here’s the Dresden Plate.
TERRY: Oh yes! I like this one a lot. You’ve used real bright colors here.
KW: Those are the colors that the girl ordered, and I like bright colors anyway
TERRY: You know, I’ve decided: I’d like a to have a Star, queen size with the border on it, and little stars in the corners.
KW: It 'll come to around $150, 'cause the plain Lone Star is $140 in the queen size.
TERRY: I think that’s a wonderful bargain.
KW: While you’re looking at your material I’ll write up the order.
TERRY: All right.
KW: So we’ll just go in here and see what we can do in here . . .
TERRY: These are some of the fabrics that I like.
KW: Well, yes, those are pretty: rust and browns and oranges . . . Put the alternating colors plain and the print; see like you pick up the colors in one, on this side, on the plain, and then it goes over to the colors on the other side in the plain, and you do that all the way through, and it will blend it all together.
TERRY: Alternating print and solids
KW: Aha . . .
TERRY OK, that sounds real pretty
KW: Yeah, well that’s the way we’ll do it then. This is the way I usually lay them out together. I kind of start with the light colors, and have the light clear up to the darker, clear to the cooler shades. And I make sure they kind of blend together in kind of a rainbow effect, in a way . . .
TERRY: There’s so many different colors here and they seem randomly selected, but really there’s a very careful design . . .
KW: Ah, yes, you have to think a little bit about your colors before you put them together, so that you’ll come out with a pretty finished product.
TERRY: - . . . You have my name and address . . .
KW; Yes, and thanks for the order. It’ll be a while when I get the rest of my orders all filled, then I'll get yours done.
TERRY: Thank you very much.
KW: You’re welcome . . . I’ll give you a phone call one of these days . . .
TERRY: I’ll be waiting.
KW: OK, thanks. Have a good trip!
TERRY: Bye, bye . . .
KW: John helps a lot of times. On some of them he helps with the cutting and the sewing of them, but it’s mostly squares, he knows how to do squares, anything that’s just straight he’ll do it. In between fishing and hunting, after the garden work is all done, he kind of enjoys sitting at the sewing machine and sewing . . . But other than watching television or listening to the radio, it gives him something to do . . .
IN KITCHEN WITH JOHN
Oh, I got to make a new pattern, this one is all cut up from the scissors cutting out so many of these quilts . . . I'll use Mom’s old book here to make the patterns with. One thing, for sure, I don’t want to cut my book up!
KW: You think you’re going to win another game of that old solitaire?
JOHN: Well, what do you think?
KW: I don’t have time to help you while I’m cutting this stuff out . . .
KW: He plays solitaire a lot, but he gets tired of doing that too . . .
It takes a lot of cutting to get a Lone Star cut out . . . The biggest majority of people are fascinated with the Lone Star, and its always been one of my favorites too . . . You have to be so careful about getting all your corners together, that . . . it's not exactly the easiest thing to do, and so many people don’t understand just how to put it together to make it come out right. They will start in the center with their colors, make that star, and then they try to put these other ones into all those points, and it just won’t work that way . . . You have to put it together in rows and then you put your rows together, and as long as you have your colors in the right order it comes out . . . If you get them mixed up and turn your rows around it won’t come out right . . . But that is the easiest way of doing it, is the way I put it together; and it took me a while to learn how to do that.
You build towards the center, then when you get to the center you take that row off, and each time you add another color, you take another row off because you have that row finished. And then, when you get down to your last piece, you have it all ready to start sewing the other direction, and then you have your diamond made . . . Every time I sew a row, there’s one taken off of the top and one added on to the bottom to where when I can get through, the same color, color will be in rows across the diamond.
Huh . . . you got to cut these things all to pieces just to sew them back up again . . . My husband’s stepdaughter used to get after his wife about always cutting up good material and then sewing it all back together again, it just didn’t make sense to him . . . That’s the way we get a pretty quilt though!
There, I got one done . . . all done!
VISITORS: We’ve been following directions all morning trying to find you! You are very well known . . .
KW: Where’ you folks from?
VISITORS: Well, we’re from California and this is my niece from New Jersey, and we’re on our way to Washington.
KW: My daughter is going to be coming home next month, in a couple of weeks from now, and she’s going to make me some more potholders and a few things . . .
This is the way I make most of my stars . . .
VISITORS: Oh, that’s pretty . . . How much is that one?
KW: It's $60 for the top and $160 finished.
VISITORS: Thank you very much. You do beautiful work! Sure do.
VOICE OVER: I have a lot of them stop by just to look; they just come in to see what there is. Well, some of them go through the tops too and pick out a top they want to have quilted. But the biggest majority of them, whatever I have in the frame is what they want. I had one here, one time, that it was an appliquéd one that I had made a long time ago; my stepdaughter wanted that for one of her daughters, and I was quilting it here one day, and everybody that came in wanted it! And I had had that laying here for three years, nobody wanted it.
KW: There, got it all ready to sew the two halves together.
Can’t get any of my girls to quilt, they’ll tie 'em out but they won’t quilt ‘em . . . Some day my daughters will have to do things on their own, they won’t have mother to help them to do thing, and they’ll either do it themselves or do without! ‘Course I do get them in on the tying of them, they know how to put them in the frames and work on them, and if they ever take a notion they wanted to do it, they know how to do it. But . . . I’ll put one in sometimes when they’re not able to come and help, and John and I’ll do it together. Although we both have problems, we’ll work a while and then we’ll sit and rest a while . . . because to tie one out, we stand up to do it. It's faster that way. And neither one of us like to stand up for too long. I ruined my feet and legs working in a restaurant, but we manage to get one out once in a while . . .
BOY AND GIRL:
KW: They don't have to be folded too good.
BOY AND GIRL: Is there many people that see your sign and just . . .
KW: Uh, hum, a lot of people.
KW VOICE OVER
Grandmother did quilted and mom did quilted, but I had a book or two and mom had a book or two, and I’d saved up a bunch of tops I wanted to get quilted when she came to visit, ‘cause I had never done any quilting on my own; and we had quilted two or three, and we’d put this one in that night before and got up the next morning, and she was sick. So I started quilting on that quilt, and I had the whole thing quilted; and the next morning she got up, she was well, after a week’s time of working on the quilt or more . . . and that’s when I started quilting . . . And I never will know whether she was actually sick or whether she just decided she wanted to stay in bed until I got it done . . . mothers are sometimes like that . . .
KW: Now I have that all put together, all that’s left is to put the border on it. . . . Get out of here [to cat]. You get out of here! What are you doing here? Cute little pill, yes, you are . . . Get down. Now I’ll get the border fixed . . .
I lived in Washington thirteen years, and moved to California and met John in California, and I lived there for thirteen years and came to Oregon; and I think I’ll spend the rest of my life here. He came back here, and then I followed him up here and married him (laugh). His kids had something to do with that . . . His oldest daughter was a good friend of mine; see, she’s eight years younger than I am, and she was a teenager and she knew that she was going to be getting married before too long, and Daddy needed somebody to take care of him. And then his sister was afraid that he was going to get hooked up with the wrong person and . . . although she never met me, Barbara convinced her that I was the right person for John . . . And so they talked him into it and then they would keep writing to me--I was already for it, they knew that--and they finally got it arranged to where I came up here and we got married. We’d both been divorced for years . . .
You get married when you’re so young, you don’t really know what you want or anything else, and a lot of times you’ll put up with what you get, rather than wait until you can get what you really want, because I was sixteen the first time I got married, didn’t know which end was up! Then I was twenty-six the next time, and I was more ready for marriage. But that first time it was just a matter of . . . just long enough to have two babies and that was it . . . Get married one year, had a baby the next year, had a baby the next year, and divorced the next year.
He’s got five kids and I’ve got four kids and between the two of us we have seven kids! John has seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, and I’ve got ten grandchildren. It’s hard to keep up with all of them . . .
KENNY: Having baked potatoes for dinner today?
PAT: We’re going to have cream potatoes and peas. I lost the potato peeler.
KENNY: Creamed potatoes and peas . . . sounds mighty good!
KW: Got any cucumbers today?
JOHN: No cucumbers today . . .
KW: Hey, I see a tomato starting to get ripe.
JOHN: Two are getting ripe there.
KW: How about the cabbage? Is there any of that we can take in the house? Oh, boy. Which one’s ready? This one? Get your knife out. The broccoli is getting ready too . . .
VOICE-OVER (working on the quilt again)
One woman called me up on the phone that her neighbor wanted one, only she didn’t want it so light, she wanted it heavy; and she wanted to know if I would make one that was heavy. And I said: “Well, I suppose I could,” I said – “but . . . I don’t really care about doing it.” I said, “Why don’t you tell her to put rocks in it?” And I never did hear any more about it . . . But once in a while my sense of humor comes through until . . . some people don’t know what to think of me. We used to think that that heaviness is what kept ‘em warm. See, the light layers and the lighter it is, where the air can get into that, the warmer it is. That heaviness just weights you down to you can’t even sleep!
The first one I did was the awfullest mess I ever saw in my life! It pooched up here and there, and I told my mother, I said, “I can’t do anything with that”! I said, “What am I going to do with this? It’s such a mess!” She said, “Oh, it’ll quilt out . . .” So we put it in the frames and it quilted out, and I. . . I just couldn’t believe it!
She had them blasted things packed up here, she had a box about that big, about that high--I don’t know-- that big a square, and she had that thing completely full of those quilt tops, and kept making them, and I asked her what the hell she aimed to do with them? She aimed to sell them . . . (laugh). She put a sign up out here and she sold a lot of them too before she ever started making quilts. I don’t know, she must have had 50 or 100 of them things made there . . .
KW: I think that’s a slight exaggeration . . .
JOHN By golly, you stack them up and fill one of those boxes full and see how many you can put in . . . You had that thing full . . . (laugh). I got so bad here for a while, she had to stay home and take care of me, it was quite a while here, I had quite a time with it.
KW: And I had to have something to do, so I started making a quilt top one day just to be doing something, and he come in: “What you want to do that for? You got enough of those made already!” So just to have something to say, I said, “Oh, I’ll sell them!” (laugh) And so I did! And that’s the way I got started . . .
JOHN Some people from Hollywood come up here, they wanted some of her old quilts, she had a stack of them in there stacked up that high, and they went through them and picked out the ones they wanted and bought them, and took them to Hollywood to put in those movies.
KW: They were buyers for the props for “Gunsmoke” and some of CBS’s films. They don’t have to have the whole quilt, they just put the tops over the beds and that makes it look like a quilt . . . And so they buy more tops and maybe hem them or something . . .
So many people that have no more idea what quilting is than the man in the moon. They don’t know the difference between a quilted quilt and a tied quilt.
You see how I use my hand underneath here? You got to be sure that you get your needle all the way through. My sister-in-law says, “I don’t know how you ever push your needle through with your thimble like you do it,” she says, “I can’t hardly even use a thimble!” And I wear them out, I don’t know how many have gotten holes in them . . . you do an awful lot of pushing with your finger on that!
JOHN Here comes another load of people!
WOMEN HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH KATHY
This looks like string . . .
It’s knit crocheting.
Its lovely, I like this so much . . .
I like the ones that are tufted, you know . . . like the one we were just looking on in there.
Quilted, yes . . . that’s the real art. Do you have a lot of people out here buying, looking?
Yeah, um. Well, this is a very good place here on this main road that goes from Florence to Eugene, ‘cause so many people travel it that . . . there’s an awful lot of tourists stop in the summertime.
Well, we’re from North Dakota . . . We just decided we’d stop in; it looked kind of inviting. They live in Eugene. Has your husband always quilted too?
I just got him into it here. He was sitting around bored to death doing nothing, he’s been retired for years, and he’s not really able to do too terribly much, so I finally got him talked into using the sewing machine, sewing them up.
He’s the one that’s out in the garden too?
Aha . . .
So between the garden and the quilts he keeps pretty busy . . .
He spends most of his time in the garden . . .
It’s a beautiful garden.
He can’t let one little weed come up in his vegetables, but my flowers, the weeds can just cover them up, and he says: “You can’t eat them!”
First things first. . . .
You have to decide what is important to you, yeah . . . So you’re pretty well self-sufficient out here…. raise most of your food?
Well, the biggest majority of it, aha . . . And then he catches fish once in a while, one in a while we get a deer or something . . . we manage to live pretty good . . . as you can see . .
Thank you for letting us visit you.
JOHN: Oh, we get some pretty interesting people in here once in a while, you’d be surprised! (laugh)
KW: (VOICE-OVER): I just kept getting people coming by here from Canada and that . . . and two or three of them mentioned a book! And I thought, what in the world are they talking about? It’s put out by a group of people, I believe, that go all over the country investigating different restaurants and different places. And then they had this all put in this book of the best places to stop in the US. No pictures or anything. They just tell you the best places to stop if you want to stop there to look at quilts, or buy one at a reasonable price, why, then, they gave the address . . . I didn’t even know anything about it for a long time, and then this one guy brought the book in and showed me! And who did it or anything about it, I have no idea.
I’ve got quite a few different ones that have reordered; they were happy with that they had so they would write and tell me they wanted another one or two, and whatever they wanted. There’s one in California that has reordered one--every time she’d get one, she’d send for another one, ‘cause it takes probably six months to get an order finished, I’m so booked up . . . And so, she just keeps ordering . . .
When you first put the bias tape on, you get to the end where you started in at? You put it together to where you never know where the beginning and the end is. Nobody knows where I started or where I finished. It just doesn’t show.
KW AND JOHN:
Well, that’s it . . . finished! Oh boy . . . Come see what it looks like, John.
- Well, hell, it kinda looks like a quilt (laughs). It ought to make somebody happy.
- Well, John, this is all ready for the lady to come and pick up . . .
- Well, good for you . . .
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