Vernida Grant




Vernida Grant




Vernida Grant


Joanne Gasperik

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Nat'l Quilting Assn


Naples, Florida


Joanne Gasperik


Joanne Gasperik (JG): This is Joanne Gasperik. Today is April 16th, [2008.] and it is 2:13 in the afternoon. I'm conducting an interview with Vernida Grant for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories and we are in her home in Naples, Florida. Vernida, thank you very much, for taking the time to be interviewed today.

Vernida Grant (VG): Thank you, it's an honor.

JG: Well, Vernida, please tell me about your touchstone. Tell me about the quilt: the background that you know. Who made it? Timeframe and all.

VS: Well, there is an older lady that I befriended, or she befriended me actually. I went to the smallest county fair in the world up at Grand Marais, Minnesota. It probably had less than 50 items that were shown, but Virginia had a beautiful quilt hanging. Virginia Burandt. And I thought it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw, similar to this one, blacks and reds. So, I took her name from the label and when I got home, I called her. She lived right down the road from us, up on Lake Superior. She said, 'Well, come on down, take a look at it. I have it back.' She had won all of $2. That was her prize for first place. So she had me come down. I got to visit with her, and I took it home and it was only a double sized quilt. So, I went back, and I said 'Oh, I want this so badly. Would you make me a larger one?' She looked at me and she said, 'And what is wrong with you?' She is very blunt. [laughs.] And I said, 'I don't know how to quilt.' And she said 'Well, it's time you learned. Do you sew?' And I said 'Yes. I do. I've been sewing since I was seven.' And she said, 'Well, then, I want you to go home. You take some classes, and you learn what you're supposed to be doing. And then you come back, and I'll help you make a quilt like this.' And I said, 'Okay, great.' And that was the very beginning. That was in 1989, the very beginning of our friendship. She is a very spunky, talented woman. She has done everything. She makes pots; she threw pots, sold them, when she was living in Minneapolis. She is a quilter extraordinaire. She does anything she puts her mind to. Rug hooks, also. So, she was my mentor and took me through the very beginnings of my quilt experience. I could take her anything and she would help me with it. And as the years went on, I became her teacher, because I would take classes and then she would ask how I did that. I would take all the stuff up there and I would show her how to do it. We had the best time. We became very good friends, and we still are. She is now 90 and she lives in a nursing home now, because she gets a little confused. But anything about our quilting experience, she is very clear about that. We can talk and talk and talk.

JG: That is wonderful. You started quilting about 19 years ago.

VG: Yes. My mother was a quilter. And my grandmother did appliqué and hand work, because she had severe rheumatoid arthritis. So, she couldn't quilt, couldn't handle the little pieces. Cross stitching became the one thing that she could do. But my mother did the utilitarian quilts. She did the cut-up-the-clothing and tied them with a blanket in between [laughs.] like our great grandmothers did, but my mother was doing it. She did all these things. She was forever crocheting, any kind of hand work, she did it.

JG: And this is in Minnesota?

VG: This is in South Dakota. Yes. I grew up in South Dakota, Watertown, South Dakota. Population 15 hundred, 15 thousand, excuse me. [inaudible. laughs.] But she was always very creative, she drew. She was very talented. So, I began sewing on my grandmother's treadle that was upstairs in the bedroom where my brothers slept. She didn't trust me with the machine because I was too little. I could use the treadle. I had to stand up to use it, because I wasn't big enough. I would make little patches. I made doll quilts and little things like that. My earliest experience is about 4 and 5 [years old.] sitting on my dad's lap, doing hand work, usually pillowcases.

JG: Yeah, right. And now: 'It's just a little kid.' No. Give her a needle and thread when she's 4 and 5 years old. They made needle cases with little embroidery [VG agrees.] So, you were really steeped in it from the time you were 'yay high.'

VG: Yes, I was the only girl of three brothers. I was, as my brothers said, I was very spoiled, [laughs.] and I was proud of it. [both laugh.] That's the earliest I remember, sitting on Dad's lap with needle and thread and a pillowcase that I had to stitch.

JG: Well, with this background I have to echo Virginia's question 'What's wrong with you?'

VG: [laughs.] That's right.

JG: What took you so long? [both laugh.]

VG: What took me so long? I was raising children. I was teaching. I was doing all these things that young mothers do. And then about the time I really started to get interested, because my mother had a Grandmother's Flower Garden that she never finished. She didn't live long enough to finish it. Then I became interested, and she died very young. So, I never had a chance to quilt with her, which makes me always feel badly.

JG: And yet, if you have that quilt in your hands and you're working with it, you can observe her stitches. And there is a tremendous bond, even though you can't quilt with her now.

VG: Right. I always figure when I finish something and now that I'm doing art quilts I always think, 'Mom, what would you think of this one?' [laughs.] And I'm not too sure that she would approve of all of it, but she was very artistic, also, so maybe she really would have [approved.]. She was appreciative of everything I did.

JG: She might have branched out, given time. That's wonderful. So how did you acquire this? It was a gift from Virginia?

VG: Yes. We did several others. She would do the top and then give it to me and I would batt and put the backing on. Some of the time I would quilt it for her, if not I would baste it and then she'd work on it. Then if she got tired of that, then I would finish it for her and put the binding on it. But most of the time, oh I think we did at least ten or fifteen quilts that way. Then she did this one and I really thought this one was pretty. I love the reds and the blacks. So, she got done and there are over 3,500 postages, this is a postage-stamp quilt, 3,500 tiny, one-inch squares. She said, 'I'm so tired of this quilt. Will you take it and do something with it?' And I said, 'Okay. I will.' And she said, 'oh, and I then I want French knots instead of quilting.' And I said 'What?' 'A French knot in each little square. And I do not want any ties on the back to show.' So, I got myself a hoop and I had to bury every one of those threads from one knot to the next. And I'd put it up near the top of the quilt, so you couldn't see through the back, because she chose cat quilt for the back and it's light. The red would have shown through. I had to pull it up and make sure it ran next to the top. It was a challenge, [laughs.] but I got it done and we did enter it at the Minnesota quilt show. We had it non-judged, but we had our picture taken. We had a wonderful time. Then after the show she presented it to me. I was just flabbergasted.

JG: Yes, yes. It's a big gift.

VG: It is a wonderful gift.

JG: It's a big gift. Were most of her quilts tied or did she hand quilt?

VG: She hand quilted almost everything. She has a little Singer Featherweight. That is all. She's had the machine for over 40 years, probably 50. And she made all those large tops on that little Featherweight.

JG: What about you? How do you quilt? The quilting now. Do you hand, machine?

VG: I have to machine, because I tried to learn to hand quilt. I took a class; I had appliqué classes. My favorite quilts are the Baltimore Albums. I think they're magnificent. I tried to make one patch. I took a class from Pat Cox, who is an internationally renowned teacher now. Then we were all young. I took it on vacations with me and had just a little square, probably not any bigger than 6 inches. And by the time I had that appliquéd on, the poor little square was so scrunched up, the stitches were pulled so tightly, it was just unbelievably bad [laughs.] Pat took a look at it, and she says, 'Vernida, I don't think you're meant to hand quilt.' [laughs.] I said, 'I don't think so either.'

JG: That's cruel.

VG: Oh, but it was actual. I mean, you have to face facts, and I had to. [laughs.] So, I learned to quilt by machine, and I have no problem with it now after so many years of practice.

JG: And you do free motion?

VG: Free motion.

JG: Okay.

VG: And very few patterns. I usually make them up myself as I go along.

JG: Yes, yes, so the quilting patterns. What about your other quilt patterns? Do you design your own?

VG: Some of them. I do art quilts now, especially down here in Florida, because I don't have the room. I just have a small space and you can't make a big king quilt or even a queen quilt. Don't have the room.

JG: How did you make that transition to art quilts? Do you call yourself an art quilter?

VG: I do now. But I do love the traditional, also. I make traditional. I just made a wedding quilt for my niece, who is remarried, about 5 months ago. I made her a wedding quilt, but I made it very sturdily because she has a big dog that sleeps in bed with them. [laughs.] She gets into bed with the dog and her new husband. They think of me because the dog has to get underneath the quilt. [laughs.]

JG: Well actually that's better than on top. You don't get that belly in the quilts. [both laugh.]
When you go to a quilt show, what kind of quilts do you run up to? What draws you? What kinds of quilts draw you?

VG: Color.

JG: The color.

VG: The color. And then I look at the workmanship, but it's always the color.

JG: That's the primary, but workmanship is also a strong criterion for you?

VG: It is. I learned from Virginia, that you absolutely had to be accurate, or your blocks weren't going to fit together. She was a very good teacher. Very good.

JG: Good. Then there is no distortion.

VG: Right.

JG: When you cut accurately, sew accurately, it fits.

VG: Everything fits well. And then she also taught me how to block my blocks and cut them to where they were supposed to be to fit.

JG: Square them up.

VG: Square them up, and yes, of all my teachers she has been probably the best. I call her my mentor.

JG: Yes, indeed. And yet it's a wonderful exchange and a role-reversal. That has to be so gratifying.

VG: It is.

JG: To be both student and teacher to a dear friend like that.

VG: Yes, and she is a little hard of hearing in the later years. So, when I take her to the shows and to the classes, she couldn't hear. So, she would sit down in front. Then if the teacher would ask her something, she would be flustered. So, she would always want to go in the back. So, I would say, 'Virginia, you can't hear! Don't do that.' And she'd say, 'Well then you'll have to tell me.' So, we went to Maine together to shows and traveled around antiquing and we'd pick strawberries together up in Canada. We've had a very fine friendship.

JG: Very rich memories. Very, very rich memories. Maybe someday you'll record them in a quilt actually, in an appliqué quilt.

VG: Well, an art quilt for sure.

JG: When did you make this transition to art quilts?

VG: I've always loved to paint. When the children were small, I could paint and put it away, so they wouldn't get into it. I didn't have a sewing machine at that time. I bought my first sewing machine with my first job. So, I made all my own clothes in high school and college, but I couldn't take the machine along. I left it home with mom. But I could paint, and I did oil paintings and things when the children were little.

JG: Is that yellow one [painting.] yours?

VG: That isn't, but I wish it were. That's my Everglades etching. But I like all kinds of art. I'm very eclectic. I like everything and I'm very passionate about it.

JG: And you know it all fits. It all fits. Some interior decorators would cringe, but yet in my house, certainly, and yet, that's what makes it a real home.

VG: That's right. And people in Florida will say, 'Well you don't golf, you don't play tennis. What do you do?' [laughs.] And I'll look at them and I'll say, 'I quilt.' And they say, 'Oh. Isn't that something you do up north?' And I'll say 'Yes, I do that up there also. But down here, that's my saving grace. I can quilt.'

JG: How many hours a week do you quilt?

VG: It depends on what my deadline is. [both laugh.] If I have deadline, like I have to get ready for the Minnesota show that has to be sent in. The application has to be sent in by the 23rd of April. Well, I'm not quite finished with it, but I will be. But if I have a deadline then I do go ahead.

JG: Do you try to quilt every day?

VG: No, I don't. I'll clean it up after a week or so, because my husband doesn't' really like the mess in his computer room.

JG: His computer room. Well, if you're sewing in it, it can't be his computer room then, can it? [both laugh.]

VG: Well, if I get too messy, and I drop pins.

JG: Now that's bad. No dropped pins, then you can stretch a point.

VG: That's right.

JG: So how does quilting impact your family?

VG: The first quilt that--actually my daughter made a quilt before I did. She cut 8-inch squares; wool, in the colors that her boyfriend--he was going to one of the schools out east. She cut it up in the squares and I helped her sew it together. Then she just tied it, put a back on it and tied it. She actually made the first one. I thought, well, I'll get this girl to quilt. Well, now she has 4 little ones: two six-year-olds, a seven-year-old and a ten-year-old. Anyway, she doesn't have time to quilt or sew or do anything else but run the children around. But I have a seven-year-old now that is intensely interested in sewing. So, I bought her a sewing machine, a small one for Christmas. I spent quite a bit of time with her. She is quite able to go ahead, I instructed her, sat next to her and we did a few projects. And then she'd figure it on her own. So, I'm hoping we have a quilter.

JG: Excellent. It does sometimes skip a generation. How exciting for you. And this child is up north?

VG: In Atlanta, Georgia.

JG: In Atlanta. And that's ok. So, you have to spend time on your way up [to Minnesota.] now.

VG: Yes. And they come. They come here and to Minnesota. Oh, there's one thing, when Tricia was growing up, all the way through--I have two--a son Jim and a daughter, Patricia. As they were growing up, my daughter was extremely social, from first grade on. There were five girls, all from the neighborhood who were constantly together. They went all the way through high school, and there were two others, that joined them. They went all the way through high school, graduated and then all went to separate colleges. They've all been each other's bride's maids. They still get together three or four times a year. As each one of them got married, I made them all a wedding quilt. Every last one of them. Seven of them. They could choose their colors, which was a mistake. I should have chosen them myself. But they chose their colors, and I presented it, usually before they got married or right after.

JG: Very generous.

VG: Well, they're wonderful, beautiful girls.

JG: They're wonderful girls, yes. Oh, golly. That's very heart-warming, very heartwarming. So, have you taught quilting?

VG: No. I'm an advocate of taking classes. I take every class I can possibly find. I think if it's only one sentence that I've learned that day, it's worth the class. I adored Sharon Schamber. She was the classic quilt teacher. She responded to everything we asked, and she was so gracious. I adore her and I get to take a class from her up at the Minnesota show in June. So, I get to do another 'Piec-liqué'. Maybe I'll learn it this time. [laughs.]

JG: It's reinforcement.

VG: It is reinforcement. But my good friend who has been quilting with me for 45 years, she wanted to take the Piec-liqué class, so we decided to take it together.

JG: Excellent. And then of course you are going to share it with Virginia.

VG: She is probably beyond that now. I did buy a pattern for her yesterday for her. It's the small postage stamp, that 1 ½ to 2-inch pieces that she can put together a block. It's a pattern that you cut the block in half and use it around the quilt with a nice light background. That she can do, she can make her familiar patterns. Then I'll put it together for her.

JG: I see. So, does she still have a sewing machine?

VG: Yes. That's her Featherweight. She always says, 'When I die, Vernida, you get all my stash and my Featherweight.' I said, 'Okay, well that's grand, but I'll probably retire it.' [laughs.] She has made many quilts on it.

JG: A place of honor.

VG: Yes.

JG: So, is your stash very large?

VG: Enormous. [both laugh.] I have three places to stash it all. Down here I have very little space, but I manage. I fill up all my drawers that I can. Up in Edina, Minnesota I have a full basement. When we remodeled our kitchen, we took all the cabinets downstairs and from the family room--big, tall cabinets that were television cabinets down in the basement. I have a little fabric there. And then up in Lutson I have a whole basement down there also. I don't keep as much fabric there. Because we're not there as often.

JG: Do you bring stash down to Florida?

VG: Yes.

JG: You travel. Do you ship it?

VG: Oh, I just bring it. We have a Suburban. So, the dog and I and all my fabric. [JG laughs.] Now my machine, I have a machine at each place, so I don't have to haul a machine.

JG: Right. I used to do that, and now I have a northern machine and a southern machine.

VG: They're used and they're older. I did win a machine though.

JG: Ooooh.

VG: At the Minnesota show about 5 years ago: Quilter's Edition Bernina.

JG: Oh.

VG: A number underneath my plate, in a room with 5 or 6 hundred women and I won a Bernina. I was so thrilled. I still am thrilled.

JG: Lucky, lucky, lucky. Wow. Lucky person.

VG: Absolutely. The only thing I've ever won, but hey, I don't need anything else.

JG: Is there something about quilting, some aspect that you do not enjoy about quilting?

VG: I'm not so good with bindings. I could learn to do a better binding. But other than that, I've learned to do free motion. I am pretty good with all that now. The ideas seem to flow from the machine to the quilt, because, well, this needs more and that should have some more. So, then it just flows.

JG: Do you have a lot of UFOs [unfinished objects.]?

VG: I have some. I think all of us have some. I have some king-sized quilts, two of them, that need to be finished. And a queen, everything is layered, ready to be quilted, but with a small machine it's very difficult to put a king underneath the arm.

JG: Yeah, but it's possible.

VG: It's possible. I've done it.

JG: It's possible. So, you have some big UFO's.

VG: Mostly the big ones. The small ones I finish. It's doable.

JG: And you're fairly fast, when you start it, and you take your class, and you've been inspired, and you just crank it through, and finish it right away?

VG: Most of the time.

JG: Ahhh. Admirable. Very admirable. What do you think makes a great quilter?

VG: Passion. The love of color. The love of handling the fabric. We all have to go in our stash and finger our fabric, because we just love to look at it and put it in groups. Like all of this would make a wonderful quilt and then you haul everything else out and put it together. The joy of seeing the colors blend and knowing what it might be like, even though you may not have a pattern, just putting the color out and playing with it.

JG: How do you decide on your next project?

VG: Somebody else usually inspires me. I go to the shows, and I look in magazines. I buy a lot of books and I go through those. Right now, I'm trying to learn how to use the paint and all these different things, embellishments, yarns and things. I'm sort of in that process now. I joined the art quilters up in Fort Myers. If I do nothing but just watch them, I'm happy. They will teach me.

JG: Right. Be a sponge. Absorb it. It will all come out at one time, but first it has to go in.

VG: That's right. As you say, I'm a great observer. I love to just watch and learn from other people and then I can hopefully put some of it to use.

JG: Well, it does show. The influences that you've been exposed to do come out. If you stand back and observe your quilts with a neutral mind you will see that.

VG: Well, I'm learning to do a little more contemporary things now, which my husband loves. He is a good critic, but he will critique things that are positive. I'll take it to him, and I'll say, 'What do you think?' Then he'll usually have something that's negative or positive that will help.

JG: Excellent. A good sounding board.

VG: Yes.

JG: I do that with my husband, too. And sometimes I'll [JG waves off.], but a lot of times something good comes out. Excellent. So, where do you think that a quilter or future quilter should go to learn about quilting? If someone came to you and wanted to learn quilting, what would your advice be?

VG: To take classes. To find a beginning teacher, if they are a beginner. There are lots of young people now, I'm so happy that they're starting to quilt. But take a good basic class. That's what Virginia told me to do, and it still works today. Learn how to do the basics and do it by hand, do it by machine, whatever, but they get you started well. Then as you go you learn from people you meet. I learned color from Virginia. She's always had an opinion about color. What contrasted and whether your value was right, or all these things. So, I learned most of that and I hope some of my quilts will be as good as hers.

JG: That's very advanced to be able to teach that. Sometimes we know it in the undercurrents of our mind, but to be able to express it, and being a ninety-year-old lady – even twenty years back, thirty years back, to be able to convey that.

VG: Right, well she is a unique person, and she loves all things about art and she's very good at it. She would always work very well with it. But color was her strong point.

JG: What questions did you expect me to ask? And would you elaborate on some thoughts that you thought you would tell our listeners?

VG: Well, I did look at the interviews, so I sort of knew the kinds of questions. I wanted to be prepared. [laughs.] An old teacher now, who likes to be prepared. But I think it's important to have something like this so that the people can appreciate how we feel and our passion for quilting and the history of it. I mean this goes way, way, way back, when we had just pieces of fabric and whatever over the top of us. We needed warmth. We learned how to make things. And then the quilts got more and more beautiful as we made them.

JG: Do you think in spite of their utilitarian need a hundred and more years ago, do you think that women still made statements in those quilts?

VG: Oh, absolutely. They made all kinds of quilts. They made wedding quilts. They made quilts when the person died. They made baby quilts, everything, wedding, everything. They certainly made statements. And a lot of them very strong statements.

JG: There were signature quilts, political quilts. Do you have a large quilt library that you can go to and research, personally?

VG: I have a lot of books. Of course, I am an avid reader, so I tend to buy more than I need, but I do like to sit and look through them for inspiration, for information. Yes, I do have, and then of course I'm a big user of the library. I'll go in and get all the books that I can find at the library.

JG: So, for quilt history, that's been of an interest to you, too?

VG: Yes, all history. I should have been a history major, that is what I should have been [laughs.], but we got married just as my husband was going to medical school, so I had to get out and earn a living. I was an elementary teacher.

JG: Well, you did say Baltimore Album?

VG: That would always be my goal, but I'll never get it done.

JG: What a shame, because our [19.] '96 raffle quilt was a Baltimore Album.

VG: I know. [both laugh.]

JG: And Sue Seas' daughter won it. So, it's up in Ohio.

VG: Yes, I admire them so. It's just a work of art. What dedication to do it.

JG: So what's next on your agenda?

VG: Well, I have to finish the one for the Minnesota show. Then I have a contemporary one that I'll enter. We had it at National Quilt Day. We had a little challenge down here. I'll enter that one because I was pleased with it. And that is very much an art quilt. I did do a quilt that I entered two years ago. I took a class from Phil Beaver, down here. By the way, these girls down here don't appreciate what a good deal they have with the teachers. In Minnesota we pay a lot of money to take these same teachers. If they only knew what a privilege it was to have the gals come and teach. But anyway, I digress. I took a class from Phil Beaver, and I loved the painting. I loved his method. And I made the most beautiful sunflower quilt. I finished it. I made it my own. It wasn't just his pattern. I did other things on it, and I entered it in the Minnesota show. It was the finest thing that I thought I had done. It was judged and I didn't get a ribbon. I was so disappointed. I went to the meeting where they announced all the top ribbons, and I was disappointed because all the gals that won the ribbons that year were semi-professional. Diane Gaudynski was the judge. I could have a few toe-hangers in there, where you catch your toes [laughs.] so the quilting wasn't as well done as it probably should have been. But Diane is a beautiful quilter and I have no comparison to her. She wasn't entered in the show, but some of the other gals have written books and teach classes, and they won the prizes. So, I walked up to a gal I know that won 3 of the prizes and she is a semi-professional. I said, 'you know it's not fair for us to compete with you.' That was all I said. The next year they changed the rules. But my quilt, evidently somebody thought highly enough of it, was in a very nice place of honor, right in the front where everybody that came in got to see it and I was very pleased with that. And people would come up and made all these wonderful comments. It made me feel a lot better.

JG: Do you white glove at the shows when you have an entry?

VG: Yes. There are three thousand members up in Minnesota.

JG: I've heard it is a magnificent show.

VG: It is, it is fantastic. They all have between 500 and 800 quilts hung. It's a big show.

JG: That's nearly twice as big as Paducah.

VG: It is huge. They have to have a very big facility. They have a wonderful organization. Of course, they can draw from a lot of people.

JG: Do you have any words of advice to our listeners regarding quilting? Any inspiration that you want to give them?

VG: Well, I've said this word probably fifteen times here in this interview, but 'be passionate.'
Whatever you do, if you love to sew, give your whole heart to it, because it will reward you with all the good things. You are making it. If you're happy with your quilting, it's good. You don't have to be a professional, if it pleases you and those around you that love you, it's good. Go for it.

JG: Right, right. That's true. The passion and your enthusiasm is evident in your quilts, whether they're your quilt or someone else's. The enthusiasm that they have, that they put into their effort, is immediately evident.

VG: Right. I have a lot of friends and when I start on quilting, they all say, 'Oh I wish I had a hobby that I could have some passion or commitment to, like you do.' And I'll say 'Well, try quilting.'

JG: Try quilting, yes. Does anything in your life interfere with quilting?

VG: Moving around from place to place. [laughs.] Yes. We spend four or five, usually five months in Florida, which is fine. I like that because I'm all set up now. But going from place to place tends to interfere with my quilting time. But I adjust.

JG: In the myriad of types of quilts, do you think that some quilts should be preserved, and some quilts should be used, or shall we preserve as many as we can?

VG: The really fine ones, of course I admire the hand quilters because I cannot do it, but those should be, I think preserved so that the people down the line and now some of these gals that can machine quilt so beautifully, ought to be preserved. It's really transitioned. We are now accepted as machine quilters. So, I think so. Of all my quilts, that I've made I have kept only about four. I give them all away to be used, to be loved. When it's worn out, then that's okay. Put it in the back of your car, so that if the car stops you have something warm. [both laugh.]

JG: How do you rate longarm quilting fitting into this new era?

VG: Well, they do a beautiful job. Some of these gals have learned to do it without the automated. They put in a pattern and then it will just do it. But the ones that can guide to be original, I think are phenomenal. Those UFO's that need to be finished, I'm thinking of taking them up and letting a gal do a long arm on them because I need them for the beds up at the lake.

JG: Aha, so then you sleep under a quilt?

VG: Not down here. But, yes up in Minnesota we do.

JG: Are they that thick and heavy or do you have a number of layers of quilts on those beds up there?

VG: We usually have a couple of blankets then the quilts, which are the thin battings. The one that my husband really likes, the puffy ones, well that one weighs about 50, 60 pounds, well you can't sleep under that, you have to remove it.
JG: No, and you can't quilt it, you have to tie it.

VG: That's right.

JG: Those are the utility quilts that we tie. Oh, gosh. You have mentioned that you have a budding quilter in your family.

VG: Hopefully.

JG: Who you've inspired, and you also gave me your background from your own family, your grandmother. Do you have quilts, heirlooms?

VG: Just my mother. My grandmother never could. She was crippled at the age of 40 but I have her little aprons.

JG: [inaudible.] needlework.

VG: Yes. My dad's sister from Germany also quilted. She had four children. So, the quilts are in her family, but she did towels and things, that she always gifted everybody with handwork.

JG: Did she quilt in Germany, or did she learn that here?

VG: Probably here, because she came as a young bride at seventeen, eighteen years old.

JG: I see. Well, we have a little bit of time left. Did something enter your mind that you'd still like to make a comment?

VG: Oh, I think we've covered most everything.

JG: Do you think your quilts in any way reflect your community? Do you make southern quilts here and northern quilts?

VG: No. The thing that has changed down here is that I have this wonderful little group that has been inspiring me to stretch, because I never felt I could make an art quilt. People would always say, 'Well you can do this, you can do that. Try putting that on it. See what happens to that.' So that is something that has been exclusively down here, the small group that I belong to.

JG: So, you don't belong to a bee up north?

VG: No.

JG: Do you belong to a guild up north?

VG: Yes. Well, the Grand Marais one, which is really large and the Minnesota.

JG: The State quilters, the state guild.

VG: Yes, that's the whole state quilters.

JG: When do they meet? Once a year or--

VG: They meet every month at a new building that was built for them, in the textile center. They're large, but the meetings are at night, and I don't like to drive over to St Paul. I have a very good friend, every time we get bored, we go fabric shopping. We just call each other. There was one woman about 5 years ago in Edina that tried to get us all together to quilt. She was an outstanding quilter. She was an art quilter. We didn't get it done because I spend a lot of time up at Lutson [MN.] in the summer, we just didn't get it done. But yes, there are four groups that I try to keep up with them.

JG: Well, we are running out of tape now. So, I wish you passionate quilting for as long as you find passion in your quilting. I thank you very, very much for the time that you've given me for this wonderful interview. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

VG: It was grand. I tend to be a little too chatty.

JG: No, oh, no that was wonderful. That was absolutely wonderful. But I am ending this interview now at 2:58 [p.m.] Thank you again, Vernida.

VG: Thank you, Joanne.

[interview ends.]


“Vernida Grant,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024,