Last summer I took a recreational drive through the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. My purpose was to find the many “barn-quilts” along the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trail. The beautiful Flint Hills cover more than one county, so such a trip takes a day and offers an opportunity for lunch and even dinner if you doddle. After being distracted by too many of my favorite places, I was only able to document this “Pioneer Star” barn-quilt at Pioneer Bluffs in Matfield Green.
This fall, a representative from the above Quilt Trail organization came to speak at the lunchtime lectures at our Botanical Garden. She brought along the photos of several of the quilts as well as 2-by-2-foot examples. Her purpose in speaking was to issue an invitation to join other counties as they organized their own Quilt Trails AND offered classes – Barn-quilts 101.
My farm is in Cowley County and their class was already organized. I was able to get into the class, and in November created my first 2-by-2 barn-quilt. I thought regular quilting was addictive, but I was not prepared for the excitement I felt with this project. I signed up for another class for a larger size and produced a “Crown of Thorns” barn-quilt for the barn at my farm. What a wonderful way to introduce others to the farm that has been in my family for more than 100 years.
So what’s the point of the project? Of course a quilt trail promotes the art of quilting and its history, but it also draws visitors into the rural area and promotes some of the most beautiful areas of the state. It promotes agriculture and farming and showcases the efforts of our present farmers as well as our ancestors. Besides that, it allows a way to show pride in our farms and community.
Several of my friends have also taken the Barn-quilt 101 class and now have a quilt for their garden, front entry and garages. My hometown has an 8-by-8-foot one for the community building. There are signs going up at schools, public gardens and on businesses. Our church is going to offer a class and who knows, perhaps we’ll have a Lutheran trail.
It just goes to show that there is always a new project for those cold winter days when you can’t plant and you just have an itch to create. It’s what women have known for years – any day spent quilting is a good day.