Monday, February 24, 2014

Crazy Quilt

The last time I was in the thrift store I showed you the few things that I had purchased.  I mentioned a knitting book that I picked up, but forgot that I had also picked up another book, "The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery Vol. II 1910-1921".  I have a complete set of the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery, which I picked up at the thrift store last year.  I've only just started reading this journal and it's quite interesting so far. I thought I'd share this one entry in the book with you ... L.M. Montgomery talks of her own crazy quilt:

"Monday, Apr 4, 1910
Cavendish, P.E.I.
   To-day, in going through an old trunk I came upon a "crazy quilt".  And I took it out and unfolded it and sat me down to study it and the memories of the past it recalled.  When I was about twelve years old "crazy patchwork" had just come into vogue.  It was "all the rage."  Everybody made at least a "crazy" cushion.  Some few attempted quilts.  I was among the latter.
   The name was certainly an inspired one.  "Crazy" such work certainly was - nay, more, rankly insane.  To my present taste it is inexpressibly hideous.  I find it hard to believe it possible that I could ever have thought it beautiful.  But I did think it; and I expended more "gray matter" devising ingenious and complicated "stitches" than I ever put into anything else.
   I was from twelve to sixteen completing the quilt - five years; and verily it was "Love's Labor's Lost" for by the time I had finished it crazy patchwork was out of the fashion.  My crazy quilt has been lying folded in that trunk ever since - and will continue to lie folded.  Perhaps future generations may regard it as a curiosity as we look upon old samplers now.
   Nevertheless, I felt many a tug at my heart as I looked over it to-day.  It was compact of old memories; almost every gay piece or bit of embroidery called up some long-ago incident or place or face.  As for the dreams sewn into that quilt, they were as thick as Autumn leaves in Vallambroso.
   A great part of the delight of "crazy" work was the excitement of collecting pieces for it - silks, satins, velvets - for of no meaner materials might genuine crazy patchwork be made.  Old boxes and drawers were ransacked and long hidden bits of finery joyfully found and used.  Contributions were levied on all my friends.  Did one get a new dress or hat a bit of the trimming must be begged.  Sometimes the work was at a standstill for weeks because of lack of scraps.  But eventually enough were collected and the quilt completed - a quaint cipher of many and many an old gayety and vanity and heartbeat.  Sometimes I sent away a dollar to an American silk firm and received a package of pieces about four inches square cut from remnants.  They were always very rich and beautiful, with the glamor of the outer world about them - the world of wealth and fashion where "grande dames" disported themselves in whole robes of these materials.  It was a never failing diversion of my chums and me to "choose out" the various dresses we would have if given our pick of those gay samples.
   There are many pieces from dresses of my mother and aunts in that quilt.  Many wedding dresses figure there.  And all are covered with intricate stitching.  The result is a very nightmare of jumbled hues and patterns.  And once I thought it beautiful!
    Well, after all, it gave me pleasure in the making and so what matters if the result was not worth while?  I had "the joy of the working" and that was the essence of heaven."
Isn't this a wonderful entry ... a little glimpse into her life as a young girl and handsewing this quilt.  It makes me wonder what ever happened to her crazy quilt.  If only she knew then that a crazy quilt would be prized by many today.  And a crazy quilt made by L.M. Montgomery herself would be incredible. 
I have a tiny little book on quilts ... you know the sort of book they have at Indigo at the front entrance ... little 3-inch square gifty books that are great for stocking stuffers.  This quilt book came complete with a thimble on a ribbon as a page marker.  Inside are amazing photos of antique quilts, and short excerpts and quotes from books about quilts.  It's really quite nice and I read through it every so often.  The journal entry above would've been perfect to add to the quilt book.
When I bought the journal book, there was a newspaper clipping inside the front cover about a woman who fought to get the home of L.M. Montgomery here in Ontario also designated as a heritage site.  She eventually won the battle, and we are always driving past the sign for her house on our way north.  Much of the journal I have now was written at her Ontario home in Leaksdale when she moved here in 1911.  I know that now I'll have to visit this heritage site and see the place where she spent the second half of her life as a minister's wife, and where she continued writing many of her books.
That's it for today ... sorry no photos.
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thank you for sharing this excerpt. It sounds like a wonderful book and I'd enjoy reading it too. Have a great week, Wendy. :)

  2. I am a great fan of the Anne of Green Gables series, although I haven't really read many of her other works. I enjoyed this little snippet, thank-you for sharing!
    I hope you have a happy week!
    Sarah x

  3. No photos necessary! Yes you must go to her heritage site! It would be so fascinating to see where she lived! And that entry is wonderful! I am so intrigued by the past and how people once lived! And to hear the story of her quilt making is so amazing! To think that she would just leave that quilt folded up!!! And Anne of Green Gables was my mom, sister and my favorite series in both books and the show...we watched it all the time!!! A wonderful week to you friend!!! Nicole xoxo

  4. Hello Lovely Wendy just catching up with everyone before setting off for a conference. What an interesting post, I loved Anne of Green Gables when I was a child, it was one of my favourites of all times along with Little House on the Prairie. You must visit the house now Wendy and find out more. History is such an interesting subject as you can lose yourself in it and also see that the things we treasure today such as patchwork were treasured by our ancestors as well. Have a wonderful day Wendy, sending you lots of loves and hugs

  5. Hello Wendy, thank you somuch for the little insight into the life of L L Montgomery.

  6. Reading this post is such a joy. I too have the full set of Anne of Green Gables books and some other books penned by LM Montgomery. I have spent many a wonderful hour reading and re-reading the adventures of Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Marilla, Matthew and so many of the other characters. Thank you for sharing a little more about LM wonderful that she fashioned a crazy patchwork quilt....and a li'l sad that she didn't cherish her creation!

  7. I'm rather fond of Anne of Green Gables & this sounds like a lovely book. I have a pattern for a crazy patchwork cushion but I do think I quilt would be too much.

  8. That was a great article..and Leaksdale is only 55mins from me.
    Jane x

  9. Blogs and the Net, are wonderful.

    But will there ever be more Journals, to be found and bound into books? -sigh-

  10. Yes, this is a wonderful insight into her world and can you imagine the excitement of receiving a package in the mail, let alone beautiful pieces of fabric from faraway! Romanticism-a lovely era-

  11. Hi and how nice that you shared this with us. I hope you are having a nice week. Enjoy your day.

  12. What a wonderful read this has been Wendy, thank you so much, and when you get around to making that visit to her old home, please do tell us about it! This has made me appreciate more the thoughts, feelings, history, that go into so many quilts - and to value my own tiny contribution to the 'quilt world' much more! Many thanks, Joy xo

  13. Thank you, Wendy, for giving me a peek into L.M. Montgomery's journal! I love her, and her 'child of her mind', Anne. How lucky you are to live near her home in Leaksdale. You must visit it, and take lots of photos, and then post them on here and tell us about your visit!



  14. Oh how I wish I could see the quilt! That is a wonderful journal entry.

  15. Thank you for sharing that interesting excerpt. One thing that strikes me is that this is why it is so often hard to get rid of things we have tucked away in drawers and boxes...that intense combination of "ugh! what was I thinking?" and "ah, all the memories that are suddenly stirred by this object"...couldn't help noticing that Montgomery's quilt was going back into the trunk!

  16. And, you know, perhaps the crazy quilt is there, too! I know I should love to see it, as I love crazy quilting and always have, though I only use natural fibers, so mostly those "meaner fabrics." =) That was such an interesting big, thanks for taking the trouble and typing it up.


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