A Short History of the PPQ
Written for inclusion in the time capsule
November 14, 2004
The original Purple Paisley quilt was a work of love and well wishes for the Harold Beu family. Harold served as interim minister to UUCP for two years and was leaving for a new appointment. His wife, Betta, was a quilter. Many quilt blocks were made by congregational members, and a small group met in the basement of Marg and Elmer Raunio’s home to fashion them into a quilt. We were all so impressed with our result that we formed an ongoing quilt group, calling ourselves the Purple Paisley Quilters after the purple paisley fabric used as sashing in our first quilt. Monday evening at 7:30 quickly became sacred as we worked on our quilting skills. Mary Jo Hamilton was elected as dictator (to this day she has performed all tasks identified with the office with skill and daring, and there has never been a need for another election). Margaret Dibble was appointed Financial Wizard and, as such, keeps track of our checkbook. Nancy Nelson holds the position of Muse, and Marguerite Thoreson is our Social Butterfly.
One of our first projects was to hand quilt a quilt top made by Mary Jo for her son, Mike. It was a big quilt and a daunting job, and I doubt if it would have ever gotten done if the PPQ hadn’t taken it on. Our first raffle quilt was a bear paw pattern, and many more raffle quilts followed. In our tradition (if you do something twice at UUCP, it is a new tradition), we made a friendship quilt for Minister Lynn Ungar when she left UUCP for Chicago. It was Lynn’s second PPQ quilt; we asked Lynn to draw the winning quilt ticket for a quilt raffle one year. She announced, “If I draw my own name, I’m keeping the quilt!, and proceeded to do just that. We were all momentarily speechless.
I’m sure you have all noticed and admired the Delectable Mountain Star on the back wall of the church. This was almost an example of a Quilting Project Gone Wrong, but thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of the PPQ, it became a work of art. We decided to use the pattern to make a raffle quilt, and decided to adapt a double bed pattern to make a king size one. Margaret Dibble (Financial Wizard) was given the task of recalculating the dimensions of the blocks, and we started churning them out. When the top was finished, we tried it out on a bed. It not only covered the top, it went down to the floor and trailed out a considerable distance on all sides – too big! We quickly measured the quilt and the wall upstairs, and discovered they fit like the quilt was made for the space. We quilted in an image of the church, and threw in a few doves, Darwin fish and question marks for good measure, and it has graced our sanctuary ever since.
The colorful quilt on the piano is also a PPQ project. We wanted to make a Victorian Crazy Quilt, but weren’t sure how to go about it. The piano cover was a practice quilt made from cottons; the final Crazy Quilt had lots of velvet, satin and lace.
The UUCP Community Quilt hangs in the church basement. Each group in the church made a block to represent themselves, and the PPQ put them all together, with purple paisley sashing of course, into a quilt that represents the church community that encompasses us all.
One of the joys of the PPQ is to present a hand made quilt to every new baby that comes into our church family. We love doing it, but sometimes we have had to do some quick quilting to fill
a baby quilt gap. Sometimes we think the baby quilts are used as a recruiting tool.
We have taken on several interesting commissions over the years. We hand quilted a beautiful piece of printed Indian fabric for Rev. Joan Montagnes’ mother, Anne. We took blocks given to Esther Wilson, a congregational member, on the occasion of her retirement, and made them into a hand quilted quilt. One of the more interesting commissions was a Wedding Quilt. Mother of the bride had a shower for her daughter, and each person was to bring some fabric meaningful to the bride. We were then to make them into a quilt. The fabrics were wildly diverse – a fraternity T shirt, a delicate Irish lace hanky, heavy tapestry, wool from a school uniform, an old, fragile baby shirt, material from some rugby shorts, Aida cloth with counted thread embroidery, and so on. With enough purple paisley backing and sashing, the final result was really beautiful. We also quilted a large quilt for the Lutherans that was covered with various ecclesiastic symbols. We resisted the urge to slip in a Darwin fish.
We were honored to be chosen to create the new PNWD banner, to be carried and displayed at all district events, in 2003. The two sides of the banner depicted the landscape of the east and west side of the district, the Palouse on one side and the mountains on the other. We presented the banner at the District meeting that was held in Moscow that year, and received many satisfactory accolades.
We consider ourselves a Socially Active quilting group. We often participate in runs and walks for various causes such as Breast Cancer Research, Habitat for Humanity, and the Humane Society. We have made quilts and donated them to other groups to raffle, including two quilts for the Moscow-Latah County Public Library System. We collaborated with the Moscow Sister City Association to produce a raffle quilt for them. The money we make from our raffle quilts and holiday bazaars goes to Good Causes, such as Heifer Project International, the Tuberculosis Treatment project in Africa run by Jill Seaman, Christmas for Kids, International Planned Parenthood and many other good causes. We like to do projects that benefit others as well. We participate in Afghans for Afghans, which sends hand made afghans and garments to needy people in Afghan. We have made quilts for the Linus Project, which gives them to children in need, and caps and booties for orphans in China.
We try to be Responsible Members of UUCP as well. We pledge every year, and often underwrite needed items around the church. We purchased the track lighting in the church basement, and have been a sponsor for the annual UUCP street dance. In November of each year, we celebrate Quilt Sunday by filling the sanctuary and basement with handmade quilts that belong to members of the congregation, commemorating the coming of winter and celebrating the warmth and community that the church provides us. We sponsor a Feed of Dreams every year. We have given ourselves the responsibility of keeping the kitchen neat and tidy, and some times we even follow through on it.
We have a monthly column in the church newsletter, written by the Dictator, the PPQ News, which serves as a gossip column for the church.
We have other talents, too. We have written and performed original drama, most notably the Cautionary Tale, Rapunzel and the Three Bears, and Samurai Quilter. We have performed Janis Joplin and Madonna (Material Girl) hits for the entertainment of the congregation, and twice have backed up Elvis when he has visited the Palouse. My own personal favorite was when the entire PPQ performed “Oh Lord, it’s Hard to be Humble, When You’re Perfect in Every Way” for Quilt Sunday.
Most of all, we have fun. We eat brownies, have pot lucks, give each other (and everyone else) lots of good advice, are ready with copious OOOHs and AAAHs when someone brings in a project to show us, help each other with our various projects, swap books, go to movies. Each fall we go somewhere beautiful for a fall retreat, where we quilt, hike, play games, eat good food,
knit, talk and toast the sunset every night with wine and Cheetos. We support each other, and we know we can count on the group’s support. We have two wishes for the congregation. One, that the PPQ is still going strong when this time capsule is opened. And two, that everyone in the church finds a supporting, loving, creative group of people like the PPQ where they belong.