Here’s a link to the article, in case you missed it. Cheers to Gayle Worland for picking it up!


During September and October, the finished Handmade Meaning quilt will be on view at Stitcher’s Crossing on 6122 Mineral Point Road in Madison. Their store hours are M-F: 9:30 – 6:00, Thu until 8:30, Sat: 9:30 – 5:00, and Sun: 12:00 – 4:00. Please stop down and admire our collective handiwork. Over 150 people participated in this project!

Creating this quilt would not have been possible without lots of help from volunteers. Stitcher’s Crossing helped to publicize the project, advised us on materials, and provided space to assemble the quilt. Andrea Miller spearheaded the project and developed the kit materials. Susan Bostian Young organized the quilt assembly, working with Karen Silvers, Cathi Manchester, and Beth Schmitz. Thanks to all of you and to our many embroiderers!

We are approaching the Wisconsin Historical Museum about the possibility of accepting the quilt into their collection. The museum’s process for considering acquisitions takes awhile, so we’ll have to wait and see. We will keep you posted!

Special thanks for lots of hard work and hours assembling this quilt goes to:

Susan Bostian Young
Sharon Luehring, owner of Stitcher’s Crossing
Karen Silvers
Cathi Manchester
Beth Schmitz

The final home for this quilt has not be determined yet. Once it is we will post the information.

Thanks to anyone who was generous enough to help embroider a square for our quilt! Working on this project has been an amazing experience.

Andrea Miller, Project Coordinator

If you see your work but your name is not listed, please let us know who you are! See more squares here, here, here, here and here. Read more about the project here.

We’re thrilled to see the variety and creativity of our volunteer embroiderers! See more squares here, here, here and here. Read more about the project here.

Historic photographs can show us rare, fleeting moments of craft in action. We found lots of fantastic examples of Wisconsin women sewing, knitting, and crocheting through Wisconsin Historical Images and the State of Wisconsin Collection; here are some we didn’t have space to include in the gallery.

Katherine (Kate) Quinney crocheting while seated on the running board of a Ford Model T in the yard of her family's farm in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, ca. 1915. Wisconsin Historical Society WHi-70918

Six women sewing by hand and with a sewing machine, Black River Falls, 1901. Photograph by Charles Van Schaick. Wisconsin Historical Society WHi-46107

A Neenah-Menasha sewing club meeting, ca. 1914. Neenah Public Library via University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

Ada Bass crocheting with Llora, Montello, Wisconsin, ca. 1900. Photograph by Dr. Edward A. Bass. Wisconsin Historical Society WHi-47072

Julia Ann Wilcox Newell with her knitting, Kenosha, 1880-1896. Photograph by Louis Milton Thiers. Kenosha History Center via University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

Mrs. A. Van Wyck, Kenosha, 1880-1914. Photograph by Louis Milton Thiers. Kenosha History Center via University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

If you haven’t yet turned in your square for our Community Embroidery Project, there’s still time! See more of the great examples we’ve received so far here, here, and here. If you see your work but your name is not listed, please let us know who you are!

As the Handmade Meaning exhibition comes to a close this weekend, I would like to highlight my experience working with Sharon Leurning, the owner of Stitcher’s Crossing.  Special thanks to her for all of her advice and promotion of the Community Embroidery Project.  Sharon was instrumental in the planning of the exhibition – her extensive experience with the needs of stitchers and quilters was crucial for determining the materials, supplies, and timeline of the project.

Sharon has fostered the opportunity for crafters of all skill levels and material needs to have a well-informed and easily accessible community.  I have spoken with several people who frequent the store and every person begins with something like this:

“Do you know Sharon?!  Isn’t she great?” then, “their selection of fabrics are my favorite,” or “I really love shopping at that store.”

Stitcher’s Crossing is located on Mineral Point Road just east of the West Towne Mall.  Click here to view the location on a map.

A second business I would like to thank for their participation in this project is Sublime Stitching.  The illustrations of the stitches included on the instruction sheet of the HM kit are by Jenny Hart.  Jenny is the founder of Sublime Stitching located in Austin, Texas.  Launched in 2001, the aim of the business has been to rejuvenate the craft of embroidery.  It is a privilege to be given permission to use the illustrations from this company, as the company provides invaluable resources and inspires younger generations to stitch.

Lastly, working on this project has been very exciting.  My sincerest thanks to all who have picked up a kit and stitched a square (or two!)  If you have not submitted your completed square to the Watrous Gallery or Stitcher’s Crossing, please do so as soon as possible.  We have extended the deadline by a week for participants.  Assembly of the quilt is scheduled and our volunteers are in place, we just need as many completed squares as possible.

Thanks, again, Andrea

The Handmade Meaning exhibition closes this week! We’re giving it a special send-off with a free gallery tour this Sunday, February 6, at 12:30 pm. After the tour, the Wisconsin Historical Museum will host a free, public exhibition reception and presentation titled “History through Women’s Hands,” two conversations about women’s craft work in the early 20th century.

The presentation will focus on the story of the Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association and the work of Mt. Horeb china painter Hazel Miller Hanneman. Presenters include Nicolas Reynolds, historian for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin; Nancy Marie Mithlo, UW–Madison Departments of Art History and American Indian Studies; Brian Bigler, president, Mt. Horeb Area Historical Society; and Lynette Korenic, art historian and director of the Kohler Art Library, UW–Madison. Both of these conversations will exemplify some of the important questions asked in the exhibition, including how craft was learned and shared, whether craft was a simple pastime or serious occupation, and the role of craft in shaping cultural identity.

Agenda for the afternoon’s events:

12:30-1:15–tour and talk in the James Watrous Gallery, Overture Center
1:15-1:30–move from gallery to Wisconsin Historical Museum on the Capitol Square
1:30-2:00–introductions, refreshments at the Museum
2:00-2:30–Conversation 1-Lyn Korenic and Brian Bigler on china painting
2:30-3:00–Conversation 2-Nancy Mithlo and Nic Reynolds on lace making
3:00-3:30–presentation of Community Embroidery Project

The reception will include a display of the redwork quilt squares created for our Community Embroidery Project. If you volunteered to embroider a square, please bring it along to share!

On Sunday afternoon, January 22, three of the artists participating in Handmade Meaning gathered at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art for a panel discussion moderated by Beverly Gordon of the Design Studies department at UW-Madison. We had a great turnout in spite of the momentous Packers-Bears game going on at the same time!

Gordon asked each panelist to speak about how she views her own work in relation to turn-of-the-century women’s handwork.  Susan Johnson White described how her Idle Hands performance is physically tied to the handwork of previous generations of women through the incorporation of tools and a pattern book that belonged to her female ancestors. Anne Kingsbury discussed the meditative aspect of creating her highly detailed beadwork and the idea that Victorian women likely experienced a similar sense of connection and mindfulness in their craft work. Cortney Heimerl considered the high levels of skill and technique valued by Victorian makers in contrast to the current D.I.Y./indie craft movement, which emphasizes that anyone can try their hand at making things, no matter their skill level.

Check out photos of the event on the UW-Madison Material Culture program’s blog.

Handmade Meaning

An exhibition investigating the connections between Victorian women's fancywork and contemporary Wisconsin craft. At the James Watrous Gallery, Madison, Wisconsin, December 17, 2010-February 6, 2011.