Strawberry Season in Quilt Country

I snagged this beauty of Pennsylvania-German influence at the Shipshewana Antique Show this last busy 48-hour weekend. My first ever, strawberry quilt in 40 years of quilt hunting! Who would have guessed a somewhat rare strawberry quilt to show up during strawberry season! I may have to keep this one!

“You never know,” I say to myself, “who, or what you’re going to meet in Shipshewana.” Where else in small-town America but here (population usually about 525) do so many paths cross. Somedays I feel that I travel the world via the world arriving at my doorstep. Once I cross the threshold of my little quilt shop, I know I’ve stepped into the World of the Surprise Adventure.

Last week, following my inner guidance (maybe it was the June new moon), I knew it was time to “scrub up” a bit more than usual and put my professional face on for a busy first weekend in June crowd. Yes, I could feel it in the air – the Earth getting all jazzed up with heat, green radiance and strawberry blossoms while school graduations, weddings and beginning summer vacations ceremoniously honored endings and new beginnings. And so, I dressed for the razzle dazzle “Strawberry Coming of Summer” June season and, crossing the threshold, I was not disappointed!

Something that you may not know at first glance about Shipshewana is that the mass of people who converge here daily, known by most as tourists, are really visitors, or guests, if you please…. each one bringing a story of where they’ve come from, what their passions and gifts to the world are, and what drew them to this LaGrange County, Indiana rural community, my home, where my passions are lived out, where I’ve come from.
I love this exchange of energy and am sharing with you snapshots- “The plethora of adventures that crossed my “quilterly” threshold the first 48 hours of a June new moon weekend.”

Scrap rug offered at the 2011 Haiti Benefit Auction
A colorful polyester scrap rug offered by one of the Conservative Mennonite Haitian Mission groups, hand carried from Haiti to be sold at the Haiti Benefit Auction in Shipshewana. Not as many rugs can be brought to the USA as the mission relies on visitors to bring them back in luggage and you know how costly luggage is these days. Not a quilt, but, collecting hand made rugs for the shop is another passion of mine.

I met numerous people visiting the shop, here to attend the “Haystack” supper fundraiser and other Haiti Auction events.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden, crib quit, c. 1935
Surprise! Here they are, one year later! These two Indiana friends, and fabulous women, one a fabric designer, the other an herbalist, both quilt lovers….were a delight to chat with last year, and again, sat down in the shop and imparted a great deal of priceless wisdom, then left with a “winner” – “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” crib quilt, c. 1935.

Quilt dealer from Maine
Oh my goodness, “Get out of town!
I walked out of the back storage room where I had been working, to find a hot shot northeast coast quilt dealer/collector stacking up a load of quilts to take with her! Wow! Last visit was 13 years ago. You just never know who will come walking in…even from Maine.

Postage Stamp quilt, c. 1900
Once used as a drop cloth! A VERY fun discovery from the Shipshewana Antique Show. Nearly 4,000 pieces in this “Postage Stamp” quilt, made c. 1900. Can I keep this one too?!? Unusual pieced border. I LOVE it!

Detail of Postage Stamp quilt, c. 1900
Those pieces are really tiny, and, they were sewn together BY HAND.

Expert antique quilt restorer and appraiser, Alexander Schweitzer
Another delightful surprise…on that very, very HOT wilterly Saturday afternoon, by a dear friend, I’ve come to know thru visits in the shop and who always picks up the tempo of the shop even on hot days. Alexander Sweitzer is by profession a psychologist and by passion an expert vintage quilt restorer, and certified appraiser. Talk about walking encyclopedia …and Alex inspires and encourages the best quilterly interests in others as well. Alex and husband always do historical summer trips with their young grandchildren, all of whom had fun riding the Davis Mercantile carousel and selecting fabric for quilt making at Shipshewana’s fabric stores!

Sisters of the Holy Cross, visiting from Bangladesh
Surprise, surprise, surprise!!! Suddenly I am face to face with the most loving smiles I’ve been greeted with…and this I know, because my heart opened VERY wide…melted in fact, when these lovely Sisters of the Holy Cross showed up. The four Sisters in saris are from Bangladesh…at first they said India, because they did not know If I had ever heard of Bangladesh! (Bangladesh!-Thank you George Harrison! No, really…I do know Bangladesh through Mennonite Central Committee projects as well) The 5th Sister is from Brazil. They are on a one-month retreat/training at the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s.

These sisters, work as teachers, nurses and in city government. C-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n…..with a capitol C, and FUN is what I felt from these women doing sacred work. The lovely nurse, on the right, looks like she could be a sister to some of the Amish women in Shipshewana! It’s a small world ….it really, really is.

Detail of Strawberry Applique, c. 1850, Lebanon, IN
A great find! Also found at the local Shipshewana Farmers Market, my first quart of organic strawberries. This “48 hours of strawberry season in quilt country” yielded many surprise guests and great finds- each with a story, each bringing a smile of delight to my face and joy to my heart!

Recipe of the Month: Wash and eat fresh strawberries right from the box, or freshly picked from the strawberry patch!

Remember, the stitches “quilted in the ditch,” are best seen by turning the quilt over!
Happy, second glance, second chance;
Look again, there’s always more than meets the eye at first glance!