Jeanie Rash

Photos

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Title

Jeanie Rash

Identifier

DE19711-011

Interviewee

Jeanie Rash

Interviewer

Dee Richardson

Interview Date

2003-10-27

Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi

Location

Newark, Delaware

Transcriber

Elaine Johnson

Transcription

Dee Richardson (DR): This is Dee Richardson. Today is the 27th of October 2003. I'm conducting an interview with Jeanie Rash and we're at the Kirkwood Highway Library, near Newark, Delaware. Jeanie where are you from?

Jeanie Rash (JR): Originally, Pennsylvania.

DR: Nearby Pennsylvania?

JR: Frankford.

DR: Where's that?

JR: Don't ask me. Northeast or something. I left there when I was eight.

DR: Okay. The quilt that you brought in today can you tell me about it?

JR: Well, I went to class, and I thought I'd never get it finished but I am very pleased to say I got it finished, all but the label and a friend Dana Phillips quilted it for me.

DR: What made you choose the colors you chose?

JR: I wanted something bright.

DR: And the pattern. Do you know what the pattern is called?

JR: No, I have no idea.

DR: Where did you find the pattern?

JR: It was part of the project.

DR: It was a class project, right?

JR: Yes, at the Hive.

DR: The class that you were taking was at the Quilter's Hive in Newark, Delaware. And your teacher was?

JR: I think it was Joan Hobbs.

DR: Joan Hobbs. Tell me what is so special about this quilt. Why did you make it and what does it mean to you?

JR: Oh, my. Now you're going to have me in tears.

DR: Do you want me to come back to this question?

JR: Yes.

DR: Okay, let's come back to this. When we set up this interview you told me that this is your first full sized quilt.

JR: My first with knowledge. [laughs.]

DR: And you got the knowledge through classes at the Hive. What are your plans for this quilt?

JR: It will probably be just tucked away.

DR: You won't use it?

JR: I don't think so.

DR: But you wanted something bright.

JR: I know. I wanted something bright.

DR: How long have you been a quilter?

JR: Honestly, I would say two and a half years.

DR: And what sparked your interest?

JR: To keep my mind from going crazy after losing my husband.

DR: That actually was the question we were going to get into in the last section. It says why is quilting important in your life. We can certainly see that and that goes up also to the question of what special meaning does this quilt have for you. Are you comfortable expanding on that at all or would you rather we didn't discuss it.

JR: No, I think it would be a good thing to expand upon because it sort of involved my husband. I went to Maine, in I believe it was 1999 and my niece up there had made a quilt and it was the pineapple pattern, I don't know if you are familiar with that or not.

DR: Yes.

JR: And I just loved it. So, we came home with no knowledge at all about quilting and my husband and I went and got materials and started cutting and piecing and putting together and I had to go and buy a new sewing machine. So, every time I'd turn around, I'd say, 'Well, we have to go back to the store to get more material.' And things kept getting bigger and bigger, of which I finally finished it and gave it to my oldest daughter-in-law. We had just finished it.

DR: So, you and your husband both worked on it.

JR: Yes, well basically.

DR: He helped you choose the colors and?

JR: Set it out and lay it out and put a table out in the middle of the floor. And then he passed away and my niece came down from Maine and had not bought flowers. She and her sister-in-law went to the Hive and got me a certificate. I used the certificate and started taking classes.

DR: That's nice.

JR: I've been tied up in quilting ever since.

DR: It's a good thing to be tied up in isn't it?

JR: Yes, it is.

DR: So, the question is at what age did you start quilting and so we won't go into that specifically, but would you give our listeners an idea of what age group you're in.

JR: I was seventy-five.

DR: When you started quilting, oh my goodness. And that was two and a half years ago, right?

JR: Well, actually I was seventy-four and a half at that point, if you want to get technical about it.

DR: How much time do you devote to quilting now?

JR: Well at the time, after my husband passed away, I think I was in the room sewing from nine o'clock in the morning until eleven o'clock at night with no break. And I had to train myself to take a break, because it was a salvation.

DR: It was a total distraction for you from what you were dealing with. Would the quilt the quilt that your niece made be considered your first quilt memory?

JR: Yes, I would say so.

DR: It was the first time you were really exposed to a quilter and quilting. Do you have other quilters in your family?

JR: No. No other sewers even.

DR: How 'bout in past generations, did like your grandmother or anyone?

JR: No. I heard stories that my father had a sister who would let dirt pile up high just to sew. But I never knew her, so I don't know for sure.

DR: How about any of your friends? Now, I know you have a lot of friends who quilt now, but did you in your previous circle of friends were there quilters?

JR: No.

DR: Tell us about how you got involved in Ladybugs Quilt Guild, which meets in Newark, Delaware and how you got so involved in that.

JR: Well, it's a long story. I am involved with another group that sews.

DR: Can you tell me what group that is.

JR: We have no name. It's just a group of women who get together and the woman who is sort of in charge brings a new thing that she has made in the line of clothes and tries to show us how and gives direction on it. But I've never made anything from her class group. Through that group, and that group was the first I was ever involved with after my husband passed away and I met Bunky Daniels and Barbara Scott and they are both in Ladybugs and they would tell me about the demos at the Hive and that someone there that they knew, knew me. And I went to a demo, and it turned out I met Joyce Hoops that at one time dated my oldest son. And from there it's just history. And then through Joyce I got into the Ladybugs and here I am.

DR: And you've become pretty active in the Ladybugs, and I know the ladies appreciate your participation. I know I do especially. How does your quilting affect your family?

JR: They're just thrilled to death that I'm out of their hair. [laughs.]

DR: Are they on the receiving end of some of your quilt projects?

JR: Oh, yes.

DR: What kind of projects?

JR: I've made table runners and Christmas stockings. One wall hanging. I have other things that don't come to mind that I've done and just put in a box for them.

DR: Okay. What do you find pleasing about quilting? I know that you began quilting at a very difficult time in your life. But you've kept it up. It got you through that and now you've kept it up. Why?

JR: Well, I'm also tied up with the Linus Group.

DR: Tell me about that.

JR: We quilt for hospitalized children.

DR: What kind of quilts do you make?

JR: I personally make what they call pillowcase kind, they are quick and easy and colorful. And with little children they could care less whether you've made it bounding on the edges or what you've done with it, as long as it's warm, and comfortable, and appealing.

DR: How are the children selected who get the quilts?

JR: The hospital decides that.

DR: The hospital decides. Do you ever meet any of the children?

JR: No.

DR: How did you get into that group?

JR: There were flyers up and I saw one at the Hive one day when I was getting some material or equipment.

DR: Do you know how the name Linus came up?

JR: It's a national organization.

DR: Oh, is it? And so, it's made up of quilters who make small quilts for hospitalized children who are not necessarily from disadvantaged homes or anything, they're just sick.

JR: Yes, they're just sick. And we've sent them to Christiana Hospital, A.I. Dupont Hospital; they are in some ambulances and some police cars.

DR: So, they get them right away to help comfort them. That's quite interesting. Is there any aspect about quilting that you particularly don't enjoy?

JR: The frustration. [laughter.]

DR: Tell me about the frustration. What's frustrating?

JR: Well, first you work so hard to get everything just so, and then when you are looking at it for about the tenth time you'll say, 'Oh, those corners don't meet.'

DR: So are you frustrated enough to take them out and start again.

JR: Yes, I am. In fact, I'm working on a project right now for a class and I'm trying to think it was an Ohio Star I think it is. And right in the center of a row, and it's already bound to the other two rows I found a mistake and I sat, and I took that out and put it back in.

DR: Do you consider yourself a perfectionist or just didn't want anyone else to see your work looking a little--

JR: No, to make sure that the design fits right you have to do the correction.

DR: Have you ever been on any trips to see quilts specifically, like at a museum or anything like that?

JR: Joyce and several others, Joyce driving of course went down to Washington to a museum down there to look at quilts.

DR: Was this the textile museum or the contemporary crafts, or something, do you remember the name of it?

JR: No, I don't remember the name of it.

DR: But it was a road trip to Washington.

JR: Yes.

DR: How many of you went?

JR: I think there were four of us.

DR: A day trip?

JR: Yes.

DR: Sounds like an interesting thing to do.

JR: And I went to Fort Washington to the quilt show up there.

DR: It's sort of a trade show for quilters or quilt stores.

JR: I believe it's for anybody interested in quilting.

DR: Do they have a quilt show there as well, a display.

JR: Yes, and they also have people giving demonstrations there on new equipment.

DR: And they also sell quilting supplies, is that true?

JR: Yes.

DR: What do you think makes a great quilt?

JR: I think color, design or pattern. I think that's about it.

DR: Do you think color is more important than design?

JR: No, I think they both work hand in hand.

DR: What makes a great quilter?

JR: Patience [laughs.]

DR: Alright

JR: And willing to learn.

DR: And how do you learn?

JR: You go to classes. You watch your friends and what they're making, and you just keep trying.

DR: So, is it learning by doing?

JR: I think so. Even looking at the quilt shows on TV you get some ideas.

DR: How do you select the colors and patterns? How do you know what is really going be the one?

JR: Well, that's hard to say because in this case, I'm trying to remember this may not be the one, it might not have been through the Hive that I did this one but just home from a getaway there must have been five other quilts of the same design all different colors and they were all gorgeous.

DR: Tell me about the getaway. What is that?

JR: It's a group of women through the Quilter's Hive and we just go away for four days and have fun and sew.

DR: Do you stay in a hotel?

JR: Yes.

DR: And I think I know the answer but let's hear it from you. Do you all sew in the same general area or the same room?

JR: Well, it's broken up into several groups because there may be two or three designs for quilts, like in this weekend there were two different designs for quilts and there was a sweatshirt and then there was also a group to do baskets.

DR: So, each group was sort of segregated to itself.

JR: Well, in this case in this year being as we didn't have that many because they've broken it down to two groups now and we have another group going in November and we were able to put all the sewers into one room. They broke it down into three parts. Front part was doing sweatshirts, a third was doing one kind of quilt and the other third was doing another quilt and the baskets were downstairs because that is a sloppy job.

DR: And do sew long into the night or do you get up early in the morning, or do you fool around, or do you go out and have fantastic dinners, or what happens?

JR: That's also up to the individual. We have some who stay there and sew until two in the morning. And usually, the class starts at nine and we break for like two hours for lunch and

DR: Two hours, that gives you time to scope out the neighborhood.

JR: Yes, and most of them do. But there are usually those diehards who stay and go right through the lunch hour. Then you break at five until seven thirty to go to dinner and we usually have a program of some sort in the evening. But during the program there are those diehards who are still sitting there sewing.

DR: What type of program do you have?

JR: In this case we had two young ladies who were talking about 9/11 and how they themselves got involved in making quilts for the firemen that were killed on 9/11.

DR: Oh, for the families of those firemen who were killed?

JR: Yes, for the memory of the men who were lost.

DR: So, it appears that the Quilter's Hive has been pretty important in your quilting development.

JR: Yes, definitely.

DR: That's interesting.

JR: As has the Linus Group, because it was through them that I learned to do binding.

Not that I bind when I do quilts for babies because I really just sew them up like a pillowcase.

DR: And then what turn them inside out?

JR: Yes, turn them inside out and depending on the material, if it's too plain--I like to use a plain background on the back, but on the front if it is some kind of design that attracts me, then I might sew whatever design it is in the pattern. If it's like a baseball bat, I might sew a baseball back to hold the front, and batting and back together.

DR: When you decide to make a quilt, do you have something in mind, do you know what colors or pattern you're looking for, or how long does it take you to resolve that design dilemma, or where do you start?

JR: That is a question. Well, first of all you go and decide your pattern and from the pattern you decide your colors, and then determine your time.

DR: What makes a good pattern for you? Why would you select one pattern over another, because there are so many pretty patterns?

JR: You have no choice; you've got to try them all.

DR: Okay, so you are just trying them all.

JR: Right.

DR: Do you have any comments about hand quilting versus machine quilting?

JR: I think you would get a lot more satisfaction out of the hand quilting, but that is up to the individual. But for time, quilting by machine is quite a bit faster. The reason I say that is because I'm working right now in a class that is hand sewing, and it is taking time. And it's only for four little twelve-inch square panels.

DR: When you're quilting at home, or piecing as it's probably more accurate, do you listen to music, do you have the television on, or do you have something keeping you company?

JR: Oh yes, I have the television on. You have to have a voice going on in the house.

DR: Do you look forward to a particular show you can quilt to?

JR: Yes, I have my specific shows that I like to listen to. Nine times out of ten, I don't know a thing about what happen after it's over.

DR: But it keeps you company.

JR: Right.

DR: What impact do you think quilts have on American life, in general?

JR: Well, when you stop to think about the old quilts, they were batted in between their front and back pieces with newspaper for warmth. And just the comfort of a quilt, for children, like in the story of Linus, he walks around dragging a quilt behind him while sucking his thumb. So, it's like a comfort thing.

DR: Is that where the name Linus came from for the group?

JR: Yes, that is our symbol.

DR: It is a comfort thing isn't it.

JR: Yes.

DR: Do you think that quilts reflect regional differences?

JR: I haven't gotten that involved in quilting yet to know whether or not there is.

DR: What do you think when you think of like twenty, forty or fifty years from now, what importance will quilts have then?

JR: I think it will be the same as today, the comfort, the warmth, and the memories, because there will be a lot of memories to quilts like, 'my grandmother made this,' or 'my great-grandmother made that.'

DR: If we could get back to this quilt that you made. Did you specifically look for a certain fiber, like were you interested in only cotton? Did you want to have a special kind of batting in it? These are kind of the technical questions.

JR: They are technical and ones that I am not fully able to answer.

DR: Were you just going for color?

JR: Yes, just going for color.

DR: Does this complement colors that you use in your home?

JR: No.

DR: You just liked the colors.

JR: Yes, I just liked the colors.

DR: And I noticed that you used two colors only. Well, each fabric is multicolored but, basically, you've used two colors. Obviously, for this pattern you preferred it. How do you feel about two or multiple colors in a quilt?

JR: I have problems with that.

DR: Okay, what is the problem?

JR: Well, for one thing most people are saying, 'Oh, try a scrappy.' Well, I cannot do scrappy and when you get past maybe three colors then it's going scrappy as far as I'm concerned. I just can't do it.

DR: Your own outlook on things, then.

JR: Yes.

DR: That's interesting. So, it becomes too cluttered looking do you think?

JR: Yes.

DR: I'm running out of questions. I think you've answered most of the things I wanted to know about, and I was wondering if you could talk some more about your quilting experience and how it's affected your life and how you want people to, well what you want people to know about you and your quilting.

JR: Well, I'm not too concerned about what other people think. I'm just trying to learn and fill my time since I lost my husband.

DR: Well, you seem to be able to fill your time with a very good purpose, especially with the Linus project. Were you living in this area when you lost your husband?

JR: Yes.

DR: And was it sudden, his passing?

JR: No, he had been ill for five years and it kept getting worse.

DR: And that was two and a half years ago?

JR: Yes.

DR: Well, it's wonderful that you made that trip to see your niece and discover the joys of quilting while he was still alive, and this is probably a testament to him that you continued to pursue it after he died.

JR: Yes.

DR: Well, Jeanie I think that can conclude our interview. I'd like to thank you. And once again Jeanie Rash I'd like to thank you for letting me interview you today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project and our interview is concluding at about ten minutes after eleven and we started at about quarter past ten, this Monday, October 23rd. Thank you.

JR: Thank you, Dee.

[tape ends.]

Collection



Citation

“Jeanie Rash,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 16, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1611.