Mary Klett Ryan




Mary Klett Ryan




Mary Klett Ryan


Nola Forbes

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Rutland, Vermont


Nola Forbes


Please note: Mary is not a member of the DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership in the DAR is not required for participation.

Nola Forbes (NF): My name is Nola A. Forbes and today's date is July 17, 2009, at 10:12 a.m. I am conducting an interview with Mary Klett Ryan at her home in Rutland, Vermont, for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Vermont State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Mary is a quiltmaker. Tell me about the quilt you brought in today, Mary.

Mary Ryan (MR): My quilt today is, that I'm showing, is "Paramount Stars." The original I designed for our local quilt group so that they could make it and use it as a raffle quilt to be donated to the Paramount Theater, hence the name. It was designed fairly, let me say, more simple than the present quilt. At any rate, our group managed to get it made in six weeks. It was machine quilted, donated to the Paramount Theater for its restoration. I'm particularly pleased about that endeavor because my husband was on the Paramount Board and his mother, who in her early teens had been an usher at the theater. That is where his father, her husband, met her as a young girl and decided he would marry her.

NF: My. Is there additional special meaning that that quilt has for you?

MR: Subsequently I redesigned it and made it much more intricate. Did it as a raffle quilt for the Vermont Quilt Festival. That particular quilt has won several awards. It really was a wonderful adventure making it. I created it along with my partner in quilting Jan McTaggart. The original quilt was quilted by Merial Liberty of Hinesburg, Vermont. Irasburg.

NF: Of Irasburg. What do you think someone viewing this quilt might conclude about you?

MR: I'm not sure exactly. It has lots and lots of little bitty triangles, which have to be fairly intricately pieced. My love of Feathered Stars is evident in this particular quilt and of stars in general in this particular quilt. I like to cut up fabric and re-sew it so it has a kaleidoscopic effect so I guess people would conclude I love stars.

NF: How do you use this quilt?

MR: I use it on my bed actually. It is the only full-sized quilt that I own. Every other quilt I have made either was as a commission or as a gift. So I treasure it.

NF: What are your future plans for this quilt?

MR: I think someone in my family eventually will be the owner of this quilt. All my children, fortunately, love quilts and would be very happy to have it. So it tickles me more than anything else.

NF: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

MR: It's very varied. Mostly I love the whole process. I particularly love the designing part of it. I'm not sure if this is where we should address this, but at any rate, I originally started designing with graph paper and pencil and compass. Things have evolved now so that's sort of in the distant past. I go at it a whole different way, but I love the designing process. I love the hopping for the fabric. Jan and I do that. We have what we call our road trips. Get our fabrics and have a great day of it. I enjoy the cutting process as well. Seeing all those little piles mound up. Then I love the piecing. Every now and then it's very frustrating. It can be frustrating because you do silly things. I always say, 'The smarter we get at this process, the dumber mistakes we make.' So at any rate, just seeing the whole thing come together is really exciting. I think seeing the finished product, obviously, is the piece of cake.

NF: At what age did you start quiltmaking?

MR: I started in my late thirties when I moved to Vermont. I took a couple of classes just to get to meet people. That was sort of the beginning. If I had stayed in Connecticut I would not have been a quiltmaker. So my move to Vermont was wonderful for more than one reason.

NF: From whom did you learn to quilt?

MR: As I said, I took a couple of classes in the beginning. They were really very, I don't know, they were not very wonderful. It was just enough to put my little toe in the water, I guess. Basically, I am self-taught. Later, I went on to take classes with experts in the field. Then in the beginning actually, what I did, I have to say I learned a lot from Quilter's Newsletter. I would buy ten past issues and read those up. When I was through with those I'd order the next batch of ten issues. Just go through and pick out and do certain things. Eventually my interests honed in on a particular area of quiltmaking that made me feel very happy and excited about what I was doing.

NF: Then you began teaching quiltmaking?

MR: I did, I did. Probably not too much later. Jan and another gal and I started a group called Otter Creek Artisans. We offered many classes in many different fields. We needed teachers for quilting, so I was sort of forced into it. Even though I had been a teacher in my real life, I was sort of hesitant about getting into this. But I found the more I did it the more I loved it. I loved sharing what I knew. Of course it kept me learning more and more things, too, so I could go on and share those with students.

NF: Where are some of the other places where you have taught quiltmaking?

MR: I have taught, really, all around the country. Mostly in the Northeast. Certainly I have traveled the country teaching and have enjoyed it very much. Now that I am getting much older, I am pulling back on some of that teaching. The long distance teaching. If I could push a button and be there, I would be there in an instant.

NF: Would you name a few of the Vermont places where you have taught?

MR: I've taught for Vermont Quilt Festival several times. I have taught for many of the guilds in the state. I have taught at the major shows in the country. Houston and Paducah. I have taught for many state guilds in the country as well. I think I have taught for NQA [National Quilting Association.] also.

NF: Then you developed your own quilting weekend?

MR: Yes. We have. In 1990, we started our Vermont Classic get-away weekends for quilters. We started out offering one weekend. We had so many sign-ups that we had to put on a second weekend that very first year. We now offer four weekends a year. We probably have a ninety percent repeat rate of our students. They have since become very dear friends of ours. We look forward to seeing them every year and at quilt shows throughout the year. We're celebrating our twentieth year this year. We're very excited about that.

NF: Congratulations.

MR: Jan and I did this. We wish we had done it much sooner.

NF: Where is that held?

MR: That's held in Shrewsbury, Vermont. Our ladies stay at a wonderful 1825, I believe, inn that can house eighteen ladies then we go across the street to the Shrewsbury Meeting House. That's where we do all of the classes and most of our meals, and so on. We just have a wonderful, wonderful time in the fall every year.

NF: How many hours a week do you quilt?

MR: That varies. Some weeks I don't get very many hours in. In other weeks I get lots of hours in. I tend to like to work in large blocks of time at this point in my life. When I had young children here, if I could grab fifteen minutes here and fifteen minutes there, I did it. Enjoyed it. Relished it. Now that I have an empty house, empty nest, I have a little bit more flexibility. I don't really have a number to give you about that.

NF: What is your first quilt memory?

MR: In the Bicentennial year. [United States Bicentennial 1976.] I'm ashamed to say, it's the first time I recall seeing quilts in magazines. Probably almost anywhere you'd look you would see quilt imagery. I cannot even remember when I saw a first real quilt. A quilt in the flesh. It was probably some time after that.

NF: Are there other quiltmakers among your family or friends that you could tell me about.

MR: Of course my friend and partner Jan McTaggart is my best buddy in quilting. We became friends, actually, when we took a week long seminar at Vassar one summer. Beth Gutcheon was our teacher. Beth lived in the dorms with us. We became very good friends with Beth. The three of us had children of the same age, so we had lots of fun comparing notes. Also, obviously, with our great love of quilting. Then my daughter is a quilter and does some things. She's very different from what I am. I'm very organized and very structured in what I do. She's very freeform, whimsical, fun and so on. She's very, very talented.

NF: Is that Maura?

MR: Maura. My youngest. She entered a quilt in the New England Quilters' Guild Student Quilt Contest when she was a teenager. She designed the quilt out of a doodle that she had been doing on paper. She actually won the First Prize. She was much more impressed with the $75 gift check than she was with the blue ribbon.

NF: How does quiltmaking impact your family?

MR: I must say that they had to be very supportive. If they weren't, it would have been a disaster. In making commission quilts and also doing other aspects of the business, there were many times when I couldn't juggle all the balls at one time. At any rate, they had to pull in and help out. My son was wonderful. One time I was designing a quilt, a raffle quilt for Vermont Quilt Festival. I was having some difficulties with getting the drafting to work correctly. He was able to pitch in and help me out of my dilemma. It's always amazing to me how much they know about quilting and the quilt world, and can wax poetic about what I do sometimes. It's very rewarding to see that outcome of something that has been so near and dear to my heart. My husband, too. He loved what I did. He was very proud of it. He was also very knowledgeable and very appreciative of quilting and what the quiltmakers could do.

NF: Tell me if you have ever used quilts to get through a difficult time.

MR: I started a project when my husband Tom was having chemotherapy for leukemia. He had great hope throughout his whole dealings with the disease. It was that hope and aspiration that was evidenced in bringing to Vermont when we first moved here, a Mountain Laurel bus, which he planted in our yard. It should never have survived in Vermont. It did much to the amazement of nursery men who were here delivering things from time to time. He had that same hope about most of the things in his life, including the leukemia and so on. I started this Mountain Laurel or Laurel Leaves appliqué project so that I could have something to sit and do while I sat with him while he was having his treatments. I have all of the blocks done for that particular quilt. I still have yet to make the center medallion that these appliqué blocks will surround.

NF: Tell me about an amusing experience that has occurred from your quiltmaking or your quilt teaching.

MR: An amazing experience?

NF: Amusing. Sorry.

MR: An amusing experience. I'm not sure if I can share this one or not. At one or our quilt weekends, we have a woman who came with a group of friends. Paid the fee for the weekend. Then decided that she would rather, this was a married woman, take off with a young man in a nice convertible. She was gone for the whole weekend, returning just in time to return home with her friends. We did check up on her on the following year. Found out that she was no longer married to her husband.

NF: She should have stuck with her quiltmaking?

MR: I think perhaps, yes. But her friends were quite upset with her, to put it mildly.

NF: What do you find pleasing about quiltmaking?

MR: I find it wonderful mental health. I just feel anything we spend on fabric is far better spent than if we were having help from a psychiatrist or whatever. It just let's you leave all your troubles behind and focus on the project at hand. It's so rewarding to see something come from nothing. It's a wonderful way to spend time. Very creative and just mind freeing.

NF: What aspects of quiltmaking do you not enjoy?

MR: The only thing that I must say, I think it's because I am a somewhat impatient person, is the quilting process. I can quilt and I can hand quilt I think fairly well. I do not do much of it. I did in my early years. Now I prefer to get my tops done and have them machine quilted or hand quilted by someone else. I'm already on to the next project. Thinking about the next project. It's wonderful being able to share some of the work load with someone else. Other than that, I just enjoy all the rest.

NF: Would you tell me about some of the art or quilt groups that you belong to? Or have over the years?

MR: I have been a member, and am a member still of my local group. Jan and I were founding mothers of our local quilt group Maple Leaf Quilters. We were charter members and first Board members of the state guild, Green Mountain Quilters' Guild. We were also representatives to the New England Quilters' Guild. Later I served as an officer of the New England Quilters' Guild. I went on to serve on the Board when the Museum plans were in progress. Have been on the Vermont Quilt Festival Board of Trustees, starting in 1983 when the Festival was incorporated. Served for at least sixteen or seventeen years along with Jan in a couple or three different capacities. I always have been an active volunteer promoting the Festival. Now I serve, not on the Board, but as Marketing Director for the Festival. I consider the Vermont Quilt Festival the most wonderful thing ever to happen to a quilter. Particularly to me. Without Vermont Quilt Festival, I don't know what our lives would have been like in Vermont. Or even in the whole country. It's quite a most wonderful experience.

NF: Thank you for all your time that you have devoted to that. [both speak at same time.]

MR: It's been a joy. It really has and just made some wonderful friends. Memories. Learning. I always say when I am talking to different groups, 'Be a volunteer because you get more out of it than you put into it.'

NF: You've developed your own business?

MR: Yes. The first raffle quilt that we were commissioned by the Vermont Quilt Festival to do, we decided it would be a Feathered Star quilt. Mind you, I had only made one Feathered Star block. Jan designed the quilt which was absolutely wonderful. It had twenty-five Feathered Stars in it. The whole quilt had 6000 pieces. So it was rather, you know, 'the quilt from hell' in a way. It was so complicated. At any rate, I'm not even sure what the question was. Now I'm rambling.

NF: Developing your business.

MR: So at any rate, out of that quilt, after I had spent so many hours on that quilt, I decided. I spent several days figuring out a good way of putting the Feathered Star together. It is my original way of doing it. I decided I should capitalize on it and make a pattern. I did. That was the first pattern of my pattern line, which started in 1986. I added several other patterns and some other things to my business as well. Basically I'm a wholesaler and I do some retail shows. Jan was great in lending lots of ideas because of her experience running Vermont Patchworks. So it was an invaluable aid in my starting up my little business. [Mary K. Ryan Design.]

NF: In addition to the patterns, you are also well-known for your marbling?

MR: Marbling fabric. Yes. It was something that I had seen down in Williamsburg [Virginia.] when we had taken our young children on the trip there. They were doing it on paper. I found it very fascinating. I did it on paper for many years with Girl Scout troops and children and so on. Finally decided if I could find a way to put it on fabric I would do that. Did some research and that was the beginning of marbleizing fabric. It is kind of interesting to note that Williamsburg no longer showcases marbleizing because it wasn't true to the period of Williamsburg. So I'm glad it was available when we went because it was really a wonderful experience.

NF: Could you tell me about some publications that your work has been in?

MR: Yes, my Mariner's Compass quilt was invited to Spring Quilt Market exhibit when it was held in Boston, when we were lucky to have it on the East Coast. Bonnie Leman, editor of Quilters' Newsletter, was there and was very taken with the precision of the quilt, of the quilt itself. Invited it to be a cover quilt for her Quilter's Newsletter magazine. As Helen Young, another quiltmaker of note, said, 'It's every quilter's fantasy to have a cover, a quilt on the cover.' So, yes, there. Then the other wonderful outcome of that was that Donna Wilder from Fairfield Processing Corporation wanted to use it in her ad campaign. It was on the back, full page color ads that they put on the backs of covers of quilt magazines. But she and Bonnie had to negotiate, because Bonnie wanted it on the cover first. Then Donna could have it. So we've had quilts in many magazines and quilt calendars and books. In fact, the book we have on the table here by [Robert.] Shaw has actually Mariner's Compass quilt in it. There are a number of publications and so on.

NF: This book is "Quilts, A Living Tradition," a beautiful coffee table book. I've seen that same [quilt.] picture on the Fairfield batting packages.

MR: That's right. It's really interesting because the ad I believe was on backs of magazines for about six months. Not just quilt magazines, McCalls as well. That was in nineteen, I'm not sure but it must have been in the 1980's. I am still getting orders for quilt patterns from that publication, which is now, we're talking, twenty-something years later. Quite amazing. Almost thirty.

NF: Have advances in technology influenced your work?

MR: Oh, absolutely. I am one of those people that started with sandpaper as templates. Also, yes, yes, yes, the rotary cutter and ruler are just the most amazing tools that we could possibly have. The wonderful sewing machines, too. I have a great one with a wide harp. So when you are working on a large quilt it really is much more comfortable to work on. The other nice wonderful thing about my machine is a thread cutter, which I don't know how I ever lived without. The wealth of materials and supplies that are available now in this year, compared to when I started in the dark ages of quilting, is incredible and very helpful. Also I find the Internet is a great resource now too for any particular questions you might have. You usually can find an answer or at least some guidance by doing web searches.

NF: What are your favorite techniques and materials?

MR: My favorite materials are high quality cotton. I tend to work mostly in those. I have a few particular brands of fabrics that I prefer over others. I just recently worked with something that was not by choice. Anyway, it was so thin I couldn't believe. It was not worth the effort. At any rate, I do, I think my great love is precision piecing. I certainly can appliqué pretty well. I love precision piecing. I along the way have developed techniques that make it easier for my students to achieve good results without a lot of tears. I originally started though as a hand piecer and only started machine piecing when Jan, who was inundated with orders for quilts, needed some help. I very foolishly volunteered. Why she accepted the first quilt I passed in to her, I'll never know. Anyway, it was the beginning of my long and great love of machine precision piecing.

NF: Describe your place where you create your quilts.

MR: I started in this house, which is a fairly good-sized house, in nothing larger than a walk-in closet area, which my husband felt I needed. It is a delightful little room because it has a window that looks out on the front yard where, when my children were young, I was able to see them. Behind me, I just whirl my chair around, behind that I have all my shelving for my fabric. It truly is not any larger than a walk-in closet. When my children went off to college, I attached myself to the guest room adjoining this walk-in closet. That has since become my room for cutting. It is filled to overflowing. I don't know how I ever managed in the small space I had when I first started out. Anyhow, it works very well for me. Then my computer which I use for a lot of my designing is in my office area which is separate from my sewing area.

NF: Tell me how you balance your time.

MR: Not well. Not well at all. I tend to go with the flow lots of times. When I'm under deadline I seem to manage to crack out a lot more product and so on. I tend to, I don't know, take it as it comes, I guess.

NF: Do you use a design wall as part of your creative process?

MR: I do sometimes. Particularly when I'm working on smaller projects. I do not have the space for a large project. I tend to design first and then produce and so on. But I do make changes. Scale and proportion come into play a lot more after the design process is started. In the beginning I used sort of a portable design wall, when I had the small space. That worked out very well. The wonderful thing about that was I could prop it up somewhere, and as I walked by it from time to time during the day, I could go and play a little bit here and a little bit there.

NF: What do you think makes a great quilt?

MR: Design and color and technique. I don't think, I can't think of anything more important.

NF: What would you consider is a quality that would be appropriate for a museum or special collection of quilts?

MR: I'm not sure how to answer that exactly. I think a quilt has to have impact. Wonderful color and something to draw your eye back to it more than once. If you can capture the quilt all in one piece I'm not sure that it would be wonderful for a collection or a museum.

NF: What characteristics do you think are part of a great quiltmaker?

MR: I would think that would be very variable. Focus. Love of color. Love of design.

NF: Whose works are you drawn to?

MR: It's quite varied. I do like traditional but I also like contemporary. I have been a fan of Jinny Beyer's from the very beginning. I think hers probably were among the first quilts I had seen in magazines. Nancy Crow was an early teacher and I love her work. Her design. Her color. Michael James, also. I love many of the contemporary quiltmakers today. I am extremely impressed with some of the machine quilting that is being created today. I am quite frankly envious of the skill and talent of these quiltmakers. Diane Gaudynski comes to mind. Nancy Halpern is another one [phone rings several times.] whose works I enjoy and have from the very beginning. I never could understand how she could let "Archipelago" away from her. It is the most wonderful quilt.

NF: I think she can still go visit it when she wishes.

MR: I think.

NF: How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting?

MR: I think it takes more skill to do a very well executed machine quilted quilt than it does a hand-quilted quilt. That said, there's nothing like hand quilting in a quilt, well done hand quilting. I think there's room for both in the quilt world. I think that's what is so wonderful about what we do is that there's room for everyone. You can find your niche. My feeling is that any technique can be used and not necessarily just the quilting techniques, but the other techniques, as long as they are well executed.

NF: So you would apply that to long-arm quilting as well?

MR: Yes I would. Absolutely I would. Many of our quilts are long-arm quilted. We have a local quilter and friend Janet Block, who does the most amazing work, has a wonderful sense of color and design, is an expert on threads and so on. So yes, my hat goes off to anyone who can do the job and do the job well.

NF: So Mary, why is quiltmaking important to your life?

MR: It's just that it's a release of the creative process. It's wonderful to see something come out of nothing. The other wonderful benefit of this whole world of quiltmaking is the wonderful friendships along the way. In this workshop that we went to with Beth Gutcheon, she said 'Find a friend. It will make you a better quilter.' How true those words were. I have never forgotten them. We live those words. It's just been a wonderful, joyous experience to be a quiltmaker.

NF: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region?

MR: I'm not sure that they do. I remember a speaker, actually a quilt historian speaking once about New England quilts being browns and oranges. I have to say I don't think I have ever worked with those particular colors so I'm not sure that I'm influenced by the region whatsoever. I do think we have a wonderful cultural heritage of quilts in New England. I think that is certainly probably lingering way in my background. Basically I don't find that that reflects in my quiltmaking.

NF: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

MR: I think that with the resurgence of quiltmaking in the Bicentennial years it brought to the awareness of the country the wonderful work that women did. In those times, unsung work. As a release from the hum-drum work-a-day chores that they had to do. It was for them a release, as it is for me. I think people today are much more aware of quiltmaking. Have a much greater appreciation of quilts. Quiltmaking was involved very much with the history of this country. It is a very valuable part of the cultural heritage of the country.

NF: Are there any special quilts in women's history that come to mind for you?

MR: I really can't pick out one in particular, although I must say I did have the Jane Stickle quilt in my house for about two weeks when I was collecting quilts for Vermont Quilt Festival, to show. [both speak at same time.]

NF: Tell more about that quilt.

MR: That was a Civil War quilt and wonderful little tiny blocks. It is part of the Bennington Museum collection. It has since become quite a popular quilt in the quilt world, with a book and lots of replicas of this particular quilt being made. It was made as a reflection of the times. Certainly wonderful. I also own an antique quilt from about 1840. It doesn't have a history, you know, it doesn't have a historical background. Except that I treasure this quilt and the fact that it is still in existence. I can treasure it. I know that I am going to wear it out just by having it hanging on the wall. I cannot bear to take it down, it is so wonderful. The quiltmaker was so amazing in her design. Not so good as a craftswoman, but just an amazing quilt.

NF: How do you think quilts can be used?

MR: In every way you can think of except for wrapping your skis in them. Which I have seen done on a regular basis living in ski country as I do. Much to my horror. I let out a scream whenever I see it and drive anyone in the car crazy. Anyway, I think on the walls, on the beds, in museums, wrapped around little babies. Any which way. Just to be a joyful kind of thing for everyone involved.

NF: Have you worked on charity quilts in your--

MR: Yes, our guild is very much involved with charity quilts. We have done those. I have done some for the Diabetes Association and I have done some for Juvenile Diabetes and whatever. Yes, I have worked on charity quilts as well.

NF: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

MR: I think with the documentations that are going on today, just quite a wonderful thing. Getting not only the quilt but the stories behind the quilts. Very, very effective. I think people are valuing quilts more than they once upon a time did. I think the awareness that's being created about quilts and their history is vital to our history of the nation as a whole.

NF: You have worked specifically with the Vermont Quiltsearch team? Would you describe that?

MR: We have worked by volunteering at different venues but not to a great extent. Are very much aware of the work that is being done. Also the fact that as an outgrowth of that particular Quiltsearch, quilts are brought into the Exhibit part of Vermont Quilt Festival and are shared with the greater craft people. Also advanced the appreciation for what was done. It's amazing to me what women did, lacking all of the tools and knowledge and literature that we have available to us as quiltmakers today. It is most amazing what women did in years past.

NF: Have any of those quilts appeared in your pattern line?

MR: Actually not. Why, no, let me take that back. Once upon a time I had seen this quilt that I absolutely fell in love with. An antique quilt. The image lived with me forever. I didn't see the photograph of it, you know, except on rare occasions. However, I did adapt that particular antique quilt as a raffle quilt for Vermont Quilt Festival, called "Stars of Vermont." I have recreated a smaller one. I did a prototype of it which I do own. Then I created the larger quilt as a raffle quilt for Vermont Quilt Festival. I do have a pattern for that, as well.

NF: What has happened to some of the quilts that you have made for friends and family?

MR: I think for the most part they are either on beds or hanging on walls. None of them are put away or stored for future generations. Though I did make a quilt for my mother once upon a time because she decided that was what she wanted. I think I made it for her 80th birthday. After a while she sort of got tired of it. So she gave it back to me, which is perfectly fine. So at least I know it is in good shape and in good hands.

NF: Will that be passed forward in the family?

MR: Absolutely, absolutely. All of my quilts hopefully will find happy homes with my children.

NF: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

MR: Time. Lives are very busy. I think you really have to make the time. For many people. You have to make the time to do the quilting. Other than that, I think the other thing I will say is a lot of the fabric shops are going out of business. It's harder and harder to get to see and feel the cloth rather than having to purchase it over the Internet. So that's another issue facing quilters.

NF: Do you think the quality of the fabric is changing?

MR: I'm not sure about that. It's really interesting to watch the trends. I have used certain lines of fabric because I like the quality of them. I have found that that has held up over the years. I do think there are probably more fabrics out there now that probably are not quite as high quality as they might be. I think it's interesting to notice the trend in designs in fabric. I mean everything is cyclical. Sometimes you wonder about some of the fabrics that are out there and available. I know that there probably is a use for all of these fabrics. They are just not all particularly to my desire.

NF: Mary is there anything you would like to add to this interview?

MR: I'm trying to think if we've forgotten anything. It's been a wonderful roller coaster ride. Jan and I were recently asked to contribute quilts to a little exhibit at the Vermont Quilt Festival celebrating our collaboration and association over the years. It was called "Jananmary." Very appropriate because we are known as "The Four Lips that Speak As Two." It was a delight to be asked. Richard Cleveland, who is a dear, dear, dear friend and founder of the Vermont Quilt Festival, did the write-up for the program. It was very touching and brought back wonderful memories. Even though we had no new quilts to add to this exhibit, it was wonderful to see it on view, to have wonderful comments that were made to us about the exhibit. Working with Vermont Quilt Festival has been truly the joy of our lives. We've made wonderful associations and learned so much. Vermont Quilt Festival has given so much to the quilt world as a whole.

NF: That reminded me that we were at the very first meeting of the Green Mountain Quilters' Guild together. Would you share some of your memories?

MR: It was a fairly good-sized group, considering we are a small state. We met and we were told to go out and sew the seeds. So we did. Jan and I came back to Rutland and founded our Maple Leaf Quilters and became a chapter of Green Mountain. At Green Mountain, at the beginning, at that first meeting we met people who became our life-long friends. Lucile Leister was the ringleader. At that meeting, we met Richard Cleveland also, who told us about ironing his antique quilts. Much to our amazement. We were all aghast. None of us have never forgotten it. Out of that became Green Mountain Quilters which was a wonderful organization meeting twice a year bringing in quilters from all over the state. Was really the catalyst for all of the guilds that were established in the state over the years. Then Green Mountain became a part of New England Quilters Guild also and shared some of the speakers and that kind of thing over the years. Just a great organization, too.

NF: I'd like to thank Mary Klett Ryan for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories. Our interview concluded at 10:54 a.m. on July 17, 2009.

[interview concludes.]


“Mary Klett Ryan,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024,