Warmth and Comfort—Before and After

Kathleen J. McCully,
Executive Director
Isanti County Historical Society

After dealing with a summer lost to this devastating fire, I was able to retreat for a weekend with my fellow quilters in week ten.

It is a known fact that sewing is the most relaxing extracurricular activity that anyone can do, and I really needed to relax. Eight members of my guild gathered for four days with their own projects to begin, work on, or complete. There is camaraderie among this group of quilters built upon 20+ years of working and sewing together. The more seasoned quilters are always willing to share their expertise with those less versed in the craft, and it sometimes is the reverse as we all like to try new techniques. Amidst the quilting and time away from the regular grind, we also share our lives, our stories, talking about family, children and grandchildren, joys and sorrows. We are a support group unto our own.

So you will not be surprised when I say again, some things just never seem to change. In years past women gathered at quilting bees, regular weekly quilting days, or at “Ladies Aid” meetings to work on their quilts for weddings, new babies, or utilitarian purposes.These women stitched as they shared their lives with each other, and again, the seasoned quilters passed their skills on to the younger women in the community. As was then, and still is, the type of friendship, and bond that quilters develop is all encompassing.

ICHS had many quilts in their collection. There were several cotton utilitarian quilts, a quilt made from woolen coats, a signature quilt made for a neighbor that was moving away from her “fellow quilters,” and a beautiful crazy quilt of satins and velvets with decorative hand stitching. The wool quilt may have been made out of necessity to keep someone really warm, the signature quilt as a parting gift, and perhaps the crazy quilt was a learning experience for the maker as she tried one new hand stitch after another.

ICHS used quilts in different ways to bring warmth, comfort and ambiance in the Heritage Center. Large quilts helped with the acoustics in the community room, and smaller quilts were used in display cases as backdrops, some draped on wicker chairs, antique wheelchairs, or in ornate baby carriages. Lost were five quilts on display in the great hall from one of my fellow guild members, a dozen miniature quilts on display from my personal collection, as well as every one of the quilts in our artifact collection. There are many different uses for a quilt, and you can be sure that when a quilt is made there is much emotion invested into its construction—this I know from personal experience. The loss of all of these quilts, whether from the 19th, 20th or 21st century is huge, not just for the makers and donors of these quilts, but also for the community who will never be able to view and appreciate them again as a result of a very senseless act.

ICHS’ journey continues in Week Eleven with a meeting on Monday, Oct. 3 to “hone our focus” within our mission of “Preserving and Promoting Isanti County History,” and our vision, “To Be a Visible Organization and Make History Come Alive.” This is a brainstorming and idea gathering meeting only. What should our history business look like in the 21st century? We welcome your ideas and input. There are two ways in which you can participate. If you want to attend the meeting, please contact me at 763-689-4229 as space is limited. You may also complete an idea form at www.ichs.ws so that we may add your ideas to those expressed at the meeting. We would like to consider all ideas and options that are available to us before decisions on how to rebuild are made.

Monetary donations can be made by mail, at our website, or directly at Cambridge State Bank, and are greatly appreciated. For all other inquiries, visit www.ichs.ws, follow us on Facebook, call us at 763-689-4229, email at [email protected] or drop us a letter at 33525 Flanders St. NE, Cambridge, MN 55008.