Eldrid Johnson


Elrid Johnson 1.jpg
Elrid Johnson 2.jpg


Eldrid Johnson




Eldrid Johnson


Joanne Gasperik

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Brookfield, Wisconsin


Joanne Gasperik


Joanne Gasperik (JG): This is Joanne Gasperik. Today's date is July 27th, 2005. It is 11 am, in the morning. I'm conducting an interview with Elrid Johnson in her living room in Brookfield, Wisconsin. It is for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Thank you, Elrid, for allowing me to interview you today.

Elrid Johnson (EJ): It's my pleasure.

JG: Let's talk about your quilt. Please tell me its story, its provenance.

EJ: Well, the title is "The Diary Quilt," made in 1992, but it's got a secondary title called "How to amaze your friends with your diligence," because it's not beautiful, but it records the very first year, total year after my husband died. He died in May of '91 and I was at a Wisconsin Quilters Symposium that Fall listening to a lecture by Nancy Halpern, who had done a Block-a-Day quilt. And I thought that I would like to do this to record the first full year of my widowhood. She used something called a tessellated quadrilateral, which is a really four-sided irregular figure, geometric figure. I attempted to do that on the first of January and decided it wasn't going to work for me because I would have to mirror-image it and flip it around and so I settled for a four-inch square. [laughs.] Every day, every day of my life is on there, from 1993. [the correct date is 1992.]

JG: Wow, wow. You started it when?

EJ: January 1st, 1992. Excuse me. 1992. Yes. January 1st, 1992.

JG: Yes, well, there are airplanes, there are all kinds of--do you want to elaborate, talk about some of the blocks that were meaningful to you?

EJ: One thing, before I do that, there are black circles on there and yellow circles. The yellow circles follow the full moons through the year. [JG exclaims: Oh, yeah!] So those are the days of the full moon and the black circles are the new moons. Where there are up at the top in January and then as you get down into April [JG: Bottom right corner.] they go up. There is one circle though that is not a moon and that's when we won in bowling. [JG laughs.] It has a bowling ball with the number '1'. A bowling ball and then a pin [JG laughs.] with number '1' on it, and my team won. And so that was that day's big event, because each of these blocks are like something from the day that I would consider worth remembering, I guess. [both laugh.]

JG: Oh, fantastic.

EJ: There are a lot of trips. There are a lot of airplanes going north, or South down to Texas, where my daughter lived and north, up and she had twins in February of that year. So, I made 5 trips down there and all of those airplanes are on there and that was when Northwest was the proud bird with the red tail. They had the red tail on it. So, they all have a red tail, because they were all Northwest Airlines. [JG laughs.] There is a snake on there in April, where I snaked a sink downstairs and did it by myself without any incident. [JG exclaims.] Just got it done and found that a very satisfying thing. [JG: Wow, yeah.] When I look at it, I think I'm impressed at the depth of my fabric collection then, because not all the blocks were pieced. Some of them just represented something. I know in the summer there is an eggplant, and I planted, or must have harvested an eggplant on that particular day out of my garden. I had eggplant fabric that I could use the block. [JG: Fabulous, yeah.] I could cut it out and say, 'There it is. That's what we did that day.'

JG: Well, it doesn't look like there are too many repeat fabrics on here, maybe the balloons.

EJ: Oh, yeah.

JG: But otherwise, you could almost call this a charm quilt, as well. [both laugh.] 365 different fabrics, Elrid. [laughs.]

EJ: There is kind of an ugly fabric in there that I used on the days I really felt down, when I was just down and I used this ugly fabric and it pops up here and there, where it wasn't a good day. I just put it in. [laughs.]

JG: Yeah, baahumbug.

EJ: Yeah, yeah. Kind of black and kind of unpleasant fabric. [laughs.]

JG: Yeah. Oh gosh. Yeah.

EJ: A lot of the blocks where I was involved in friendship block exchanges and so a lot of the blocks, or many of them are a miniaturization of the block that I was doing on that particular day.

JG: It's just a great notion. It's just phenomenal to do a block every day. And then you really can look back and describe day by day.

EJ: Oh, yes. And I have a journal, so there are a lot of things I don't really remember what they represent any more, but I can if I'm so inclined I can go [JG: Go and look it up.] and look it up, yes.

JG: Oh, gee. Well, Elrid, tell me how did you get started quilting?

EJ: I was taking, and it must have been back in the seventies, mid-70's, a class in stitchery at the Brookfield Recreation Department with a woman named Dorothy Manache. We kind of moved into a session on quilting. That was where I really got the taste. You know, we did log cabin block and we did, oh, I can't even remember any more. It's been a long time ago. But I also became interested because '76 was the big revival. [JG: Bi-Centennial.] And I remember seeing, buying some magazines, and I just got bitten by the bug [laughs.] Definitely.

JG: Well, many people did get bitten by the bug, but it lingered in their brains until they did have an opportunity to begin. So, you really, it's been 30 years, you've been quilting, nearly.

EJ: Yeah. I think in 1982, was when I really did it. Our West Suburban Quilt Guild started in '82, and it grew out of this class with Dorothy Maneche. So, that's my home guild. [JG: Yes.] I've belonged to it ever since. [laughs.]

JG: Really. And you've been president, you've held offices?

EJ: No. I've held offices there, never president in that particular guild. But I was membership and program and [JG nods.] I think always been very reasonably active in that guild, because that's my home one.

JG: Yeah, sure. Are there quilters in your family? Past and present?

EJ: No. No

JG: Not at all?

EJ: Not at all. My mother, when we were living in the country. She joined us in California. I was there with my husband and family. She made a couple of quilts. The blocks were folded, somewhat like a cathedral window. I've never seen anything like it. She used scrap fabric [laughs.] and she made these, these things that she tied [JG nods.] because they were really, really thick. They're maybe not really quilts, but she learned how to do this and she made one for each of my children and one for me and then she was done. But that's the extent of it.

JG: And what was it in particular about quilt making that attracted you back in '75?

EJ: Hmm. I've always like to make things. So, I think it probably was the idea of--and I've always liked to sew, too. So, I think the combination of the two just whetted my interest. [laughs.]

JG: And it was an outlet for the creativity that you had in you already with sewing, etcetera.

EJ: I think so.

JG: Ah. Great. How many hours do you quilt a week, or do you try to?

EJ: Oh, gosh. I think I'm working on some kind of stitching every day. I would say a couple hours a night. Lately it's been hand quilting, but you know [laughs.] I like to do cross-stitch, too, so--

JG: Oh! So, you're diluting your quilting time with cross-stitching. [laughs.]

EJ: Yeah, yeah. That's right. That's right. It is diluted. [both laugh.] Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I also actually belong to a doll club, so I make a few dolls now and again, too.

JG: I saw this sweetie, here.

EJ: Oh, yeah.

JG: I saw her. What is your first quilt memory?

EJ: I suppose it would be the sampler, the sampler quilt, like everybody. [JG nods.] It started with the sampler. There was a little group of us in West Suburban [Quilt Guild.] and we met at night. Ann Williams got us started on making a sampler quilt. It was quilt as you go. And so, this is probably about, probably around in '82, [I.] started that. And haven't finished it. But it was quilt-as-you-go, and I looked at it recently and I thought 'Oh my gosh.' I think I only have like two more blocks to piece--all hand pieced, hand quilted. You know, and I thought 'you need to finish this.' [laughing.]

JG: It's a teaching tool, Elrid.

EJ: I suppose.

JG: Some things should be unfinished, because then you can explain to people how it was made.

EJ: That's true.

JG: A teaching tool. [laughs.]

EJ: That's true. [laughs.]

JG: Oh, gosh. Well, how does quilting impact your family now?

EJ: Well, for me I don't think my children pay a lot of attention to what I'm doing, [laughs.] but I was widowed in '91 and the friendships and the creativity has really made my life very full, because I've been able to--you know I belong to a number of guilds. I've been active in a lot of them. And it's just the friendships, the friendships and the fellowship, really are what does it.

JG: They fill your life.

EJ: Oh, yes, very much so.

JG: Okay, advertise. How many guilds do you belong to?

EJ: Oh, gosh. Well, I'll hate to admit it, because [both laugh.] I belong to West Suburban [Quilt Guild.] and that was the first. And then some place in the early, early '80's I joined Wisconsin Quilters [Inc.], but I also joined Northshore Quilters and Falls Quilters and a little later on Lake Country [Quilt Guild.] out in Hartland. And there was a group meeting in Eagle or at Old World Wisconsin and so I [chuckles.] you know, why not? So, I joined that, and let's see I'm missing something. When Common Threads Guild was formed, they met at the same time that Northshore met. But when they changed their date [laughs.] I joined them, too. So, a lot of these meet on Wednesdays, so my first, second, third and forth Wednesdays are kind of taken up. [JG: Elrid's not home.] No, and then actually, a friend of mine keeps saying, 'You should come to Quilters Anonymous.' [JG laughs.] So I go, 'Oh! Okay!' [laughs.] You know, so I do that too. Although it's getting a little, you know like maybe you need to rethink this, Because I do like to participate in the different projects and it does get me into a little bit of trouble. [laughs.]

JG: Right. Because we don't go there strictly to be entertained. [EJ: No.] We are working members, and that does take time. But Quilters Anonymous, you belong to seven guilds, so you're hardly anonymous.

EJ: No, I guess not. [JG laughs.] Plus, actually, that should be seven plus Wisconsin Quilters [Inc.] Yeah. I don't like to admit that, but it has filled my life. I don't have brothers and sisters. I have no relatives anywhere around, except my two sons who live in the area. But you know what? They have got kids and families and they're busy. [laughs.] So, I don't expect them to entertain me. [JG: Yeah. Sure.] But you know this can take over your life too. [laughs.]

JG: Absolutely. It's our passion.

EJ: I'm afraid so. [laughs.]

JG: Our passion. How do you select your projects?

EJ: Oh, well. [JG coughs: Excuse me.] Classes, because I have gone to classes. I have some projects that I get together with a group of friends and they say, 'we want to do this.' [laughs.] So, I just do that with them and sometimes something in a book or magazine will impel me, but I have a lot of things that are started and not finished either. And participatory things are, like I've been in a number of Round Robins [JG: Ah, yes.] which is a real creative challenge, [JG: Yes it is.] when you're working on somebody else's--

JG: To try to immerse yourself into their project.

EJ: Yeah, yeah, you know to make a border that's going to be complimentary to the whole project. So that happened to me.

JG: Yeah, well, you know for these UFO's we could re-interview you next year and find out what's been finished. [EJ laughs.]

EJ: Ohhh, yeah!

JG: You're working on a blue kitty quilt right now [Elrid: Yup. Yup.] That will--

EJ: Those embroidered blocks which were presented to me when I was done being president of my Common Threads Guild. They're wonderful to work on and thank goodness I'm coming to the end, because I felt it had to be hand quilted, and I do like the hand quilting.

JG: Yes, yeah, yeah. Who influences you in your quilting, in your thinking? Do you try to emulate any teacher?

EJ: Well, you know I've been friends with Ann Williams, almost since my quilting life began and I think she's influenced me. She's a hand quilter and does wonderful work. I guess she is somebody I've been good friends with for all these years. So, she has certainly been an influence on me. I don't know offhand anything else. [short pause.] But, well, you know being in little groups, I am in a little group with Pam Quebbeman and Ann Sherwood and Peg Pompe [spelling?] and they're appliquéars. And I do like to appliqué. Although I have realized, I don't think anybody thinks of me as an appliquéar, because I only have one or two appliqué quilts that are actually finished. I have a lot of blocks but they're not finished. [laughs.]

JG: But that is your tendency. You really enjoy the appliqué.

EJ: Oh, yeah, very much.

JG: Needle turn?

EJ: Yeah. Yeah. Usually with freezer paper on top, but you know I always say you need to have a number of arrows in your quiver. So, you need different techniques which go for different instances. But basically, I feel like I do the freezer paper on top and then the needle turn.

JG: What do you find most pleasing about quilting?

EJ: The creativity and the friendships. And I think once in a while the great joy of having something finished. [laughs.]

JG: Yes. Right. Right. Well, you're predominantly a hand quilter?

EJ: That's what I'm most comfortable with. I like my machine but I'm not particularly expert in machine quilting. And a lot of it is not practicing. Because I think a lot of that is the secret. More practice. What I've machine quilted has been stuff that really needed to be done and straight forward in the ditch, this kind of thing. I'd like to be better at machine quilting and I have taken classes from the [laughs.] the goddesses of it, but like Diane Gaudynski and --

JG: Do your homework. [laughs.]

EJ: Yeah! But, you know when I go 'Oh, my God, this is wonderful. I could do this.' And then I go home and I don't. [laughs.]

JG: Yeah, yeah. What is about quilting that you like the least?

EJ: I like the least. Hm. Probably putting on a binding. [laughs.] Because that just takes much longer than I ever anticipate. But I think other than that I really enjoy all of it [JG: Every aspect.] Yeah, yes.

JG: So, you like--what about long-arm quilting? Do you think that long-arm quilting is something that you could be interested in?

EJ: I've only had one piece quilted by somebody with a long arm. And it was like we needed to get these done. There was a group of us and we wanted to have them in the Wisconsin Quilters as a group, Symposium, as a group. I think there probably will be times when I would have something machine quilted because there are a lot of tops that all of us have and we're never going to get them done if we don't go to the long-arm quilting. It has become really, really nice. I guess I like to do it all myself [laughs.] if I can.

JG: Well, that's where the machine quilting would come in. Those are--just like I earlier told you, I practiced my hand quilting on raffle quilts. You have your quilt tops. And truly by the end of that first quilt [EJ: Oh, yeah.] You'd be better.

EJ: Oh, yeah, definitely. But you know I do think the long-arm quilting--I have a lot of friends who are signed up with machine quilters [laughs.] and everything. But I guess it's a certain Germanic stubbornness I have, that I'd like to do it myself. [laughs.]

JG: Sure, Sure. How many awards have you won with your quilts and where?

EJ: I have gotten a couple of ribbons at the [State.] Fair. One was a blue in a sampler quilt and a couple of reds. Let's see, I won a Viewer's Choice out in Cedarburg [JG exclaims: Oh. That's exciting.] at one of the things there, which was kind of fun. Actually, it was a Viewer's Choice on the Sampler quilt I had won the blue ribbon on. [JG: That's exciting.] But I don't think always my work is clean enough to win any kind of a really big prize, but I do love doing it.

JG: That gives you great pleasure.

EJ: Oh yes, definitely, definitely.

JG: Do you teach quilting?

EJ: No, although, with Ann Williams that I've been friends with all these years, we do a workshop called "Blocks by chance," which we have done a number of them starting, oh gosh, probably back in '97 or so. And it's a paper bag method. We have several block patterns that people can choose and everything has to be cut ahead of time. It's a fun workshop, what it really does is teach participants a little bit about 'value' in their quilts. And I know I've got one there I can show you that was our initial thing. But that's kind of the extent of it.

JG: Tell me how you document your quilts.

EJ: Oh, I'm kind of methodical [laughs.] I have become. I keep over the last few years I keep a list of all my projects. Sometimes, how do I explain this? A project is not necessarily a finished quilt, but it will be like I did a block for this. I date it and write in that I finished this block. But then I got a little more elaborate [laughs.] so I have a little notebook with a page, and there is the project. And when I've done various steps or I've finished a block I date it and I write it down and hopefully, eventually I'll come to the end of the page and it will be done. [JG exclaims.] And I take pictures. I take pictures of everything I have done. I've done an awful lot of blocks for other people as they have done for me. So, every so often I find a finished quilt in a friendship quilt and I go, 'Oh, my God, there's my block!' [laughs.] You know? It's there somebody finished this quilt. But I'm kind of anal I guess about [laughs.] documenting what I've done, because I like to know that I've accomplished something, even though I might not necessarily have a finished project out of it.

JG: Yeah. And so many times, too, when they are gifts, [EJ: Oh, yeah.] they're gone out of your life and then you totally forget. [EJ: Oh yes.] So, are your labels elaborate?

EJ: I like to do a cross-stitch label but that doesn't always happen. And I do try to label everything, because you forget. You forget when you've started and when you finished. [JG agrees.] And I do try to put something on the back.

JG: Well, we know you have a big stash. Are there any colors that you prefer?

EJ: I [laughs.] I've decided I'm pretty eclectic and I used to sew upstairs and somewhere along the line, probably since--I've been widowed for 14 years, and so gradually this has taken over my house. So that's like my fabric storage room, but that's not the only place the fabric is. I've lately been buying brights because I've been working on a quilt that called for brights, so it's given me a mission [laughs.] [JG nods.] Oh, I know what I started to think about. I used to think florals were something my mother liked until I sorted out what I had in floral fabric, and I thought there are boxes. It's like, 'Oh y gosh.' So, I guess I have a little bit of everything almost.
[JG laughs.] You know whatever strikes my fancy. I don't particularly buy for a project. [JG is amused.] It's like the project occurs and then we go, and we say 'oh, this will work.' So, I don't think my children understand how much my stash, probably, has been spent on my stash.

JG: Their inheritance. [both laugh.]

EJ: That's like 'don't bring the dumpster in' because you know the people will like some of this.

JG: That's your inheritance. [EJ laughs.] Don't throw it away. You can reap from it. You can reap benefits from it. [short pause.] Elrid what do you think makes a great quilt? What do you feel makes a great quilt?

EJ: Oh. I think the workmanship. I think what has happened in these years, the level of technique and workmanship in the quilts that you see in the magazines are just fantastic. The bar has been going up and up and up. And I think to me that is part of it. But I think you also have to have some sort of maybe emotional response to a quilt. I think that's how I would feel about it.

JG: And which quilts draw you?

EJ: Oh, I guess appliqué quilts, a lot, draw me.

JG: From across the room?

EJ: Yeah. Appliqué is something, even though I don't seem to have a lot of appliqués finished that's something that [laughs.] really, really attracts me.

JG: Yeah. Yeah. That's the love. That is the love. What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

EJ: Oh, my. [sighs.] I don't know maybe the intricacy of the technique the piecing, the piecing techniques that are maybe more complicated. I don't know [laughs.] I don't know.

JG: Well, what makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection in your opinion?

EJ: Oh, dear. Historical value. I would think. I've always been interested in the old quilts. The workmanship and the story, because I think every quilt has some kind of a story. I'm not sure you can have guidelines for what would be appropriate in a museum, but I think you can't have hard and fast rules, perhaps.

JG: Subjective. [EJ: Yeah.] It's very subjective. Yeah. What do you think makes a great quilter?

EJ: Oh, my. [laughs.] Oh, that's a good question! Hmm. Well, there has got to be a good amount of talent in making a quilt, whether it would be the workmanship or the vision of making something innovative. [sighs.] I don't know, I guess personality of a quilter. I enjoy being with my quilting friends and I think that has a lot to do with it. There is a lot of support and just plain fun together. I don't know what else.

JG: [nods.] What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

EJ: Well, they're usually and have been in the past women's, things that women have done. I think it goes toward the history of women, to have these quilts. There is a lot of history in the quilts as you go back and look at the ones that have come before us. [sighs.]

JG: In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history in America?

EJ: They document certain things. There have a lot of quilts that have been made to do a political viewpoint, where women were not able to say anything out loud but could do something with their stitching. Certainly that.

JG: And in documentation this is what we are looking at, your quilt.

EJ: Yeah, I guess so.

JG: That's a document of an entire year, day by day, as much as each stitch on an elaborate Baltimore Album quilt.

EJ: I suppose so. [laughs.]

JG: What else do they document? How do you think quilts can be used?

EJ: Well, you make them for family events, baby quilts. I've made all my grandchildren quilts. Some a little bit later than others [laughs.] but certainly that. And family events, always, always should have something to commemorate them. Friendship quilts, I've got a quilt that was--the blocks were made for me right after my husband died, and they're all signed and that is a finished project because I got that together. So that was very meaningful to me, that they made these blocks for me. It was a very warm quilt to work on. I got a lot of fond, fond memories. Yeah, family and events, certainly, commemoration quilts.

JG: What's happened to the quilts that you've made for friends and family? Do you know how to keep track of them or do you see them?

EJ: I've given away to my sons and my grandchildren. When my son turned 40 it was an appliqué class I took at Hearthside [quilt shop.]. It was the shape of a shield, this particular quilt, any way. And they were long skinny blocks. There was the Mayflower, long skinny and there was an Uncle Sam and I can't remember now, there must have about nine of them across. So, when Eric turned 40 he had expressed an interest in this. And I said this is your quilt for your fortieth birthday. Now, my then son-in-law, who taught history, he went 'Oh, I really like that quilt.' And I thought, well that's interesting. Now I had occasion to borrow the quilt back from my son, and I said, 'Can I borrow my quilt back?' and he said, 'What do you mean, 'Your quilt, Mom?' [laughs.] And so, I thought, 'Oh, he really likes this.' And when I was done using it and brought it back, it was like, it left my hands and it was back on the wall. I thought, 'Oh my goodness.' I must have really made something that he really, really likes. [laughs.] And that was very interesting to me. [laughs.]

JG: So, quilting has impacted your family.

EJ: I think so. I think so. I know the quilts I've made for my daughter and her husband are up in her house [JG: See!] They're up in her house, pretty much all of the time [JG: See!]

JG: Do you get any more hints?

EJ: Yeah, Oh yeah. When my daughter has come, she's said 'Let's look at what you've made, mother, so I know what I want.' And I said 'Oh! Okay.' [laughs.]

JG: Actually, that's a lovely way of putting it. [laughs.]

EJ: Yeah. Yeah. That's nice to hear, because on the other end I feel like they're not paying a whole lot of attention to what I'm doing, but I guess.

JG: They're just pretending, not--

EJ: Maybe they are. [laughs.]

JG: Yes. So how many grandchildren do you have? How many quilts have you made for them?

EJ: I have eight grandchildren and a ninth on the way this fall. So, I need to think about something for that. I'm not sure my daughter-in-laws have encouraged those grandchildren to use the quilts the way I would have liked. But my daughter definitely did. My oldest grandson is fifteen. And actually, the baby quilt is worn out, but I had made him a second one. And he comes down sometimes with it wrapped around his shoulders. [laughs.] He's turned fifteen. So that's kind of nice. You want to see them used.

JG: That gives you a really warm feeling. Are there times when quilts should be preserved? Or do you feel that quilts are always made to be used?

EJ: Oh. I think if you've put a lot of elaborate appliqué on something, I think you really would like to be careful with it. I think there are certainly circumstances where--and you know I make wall hangings. So, they're not going to be [JG: Used up.] used up, probably. But baby quilts and things like that they should be loved and dragged around.

JG: Do you sleep under a quilt?

EJ: [laughs.] You know, not always. Not always, because I guess I have a king-sized bed and I don't--I've never actually really made a quilt for a bed. They're as big as they are. And then I'm done. The initial blocks-by-chance quilt that will actually fit on the top of my bed. And I do like sleeping underneath that.

JG: If nothing else, then for a bedspread, if you don't--

EJ: Yeah. I don't know, I guess when I make quilts it's like 'this is what I want to do', and it doesn't necessarily have a place in my house. I guess my mind doesn't work that way [laughs.] When people ask me 'And where does it go in your house?' I say 'oh, well I don't know.' I just made it because I wanted to make it. [laughs.]

JG: Yeah. Do you collect other people's quilts? Do you collect quilts?

EJ: I haven't, no. No. Though there's the neighbor down the street who approached me that she might have a couple of things I was interested in, made by somebody's grandmother. I haven' seen them but I thought I would probably give them a home [laughs.]

JG: Are there some questions that you thought I would ask that I didn't? Were you expecting a question?

EJ: I think there was something, but I think it's eluded me now. I know for me, the quilting is the creativity, but it's also all the quilting friends I have. [JG: agrees.] So, I don't think I was expecting any of your questions.

JG: So, does anything--I think we touched on that earlier, does anything in your life interfere with quilting?

EJ: Since I'm alone, not too much. [laughs.] I'm pretty much able to enjoy belonging to the guilds and participating in their projects and it kind of took over my life. Probably more than it should have. But you know what? It's just fine. It's just fine.

JG: Do you make wearable art?

EJ: No. I used to sew a lot. There was a period of my life when I worked for Stretch and Sew, one of the Stretch and Sew stores and sewed constantly, but not wearable art. I have patterns to do that [laughs.] in my collection, but no.

JG: And you probably, possibly have the fabric purchased to go with that pattern.

EJ: Yeah, probably could, yes. [laughs.]

JG: So how do you organize your stash?

EJ: Kind of by color. Kind of by category. I think I have all my plaids together, but there might be some that have wandered someplace else. And then I have some that I consider reproduction fabric [JG coughs.] and thirties fabric stays together. But sometimes I think it's mainly all churned up.

JG: When you hand quilt, do you quilt on your lap or your hoop?

EJ: I have a hoop. What would that be about a 14 inch hoop [gestures the size.] I use. I also have a really nice Hinterburg hoop, a big one that I've never put together.

JG: The round? The floor?

EJ: Yeah, because when I purchased it I tucked it away because I was afraid my husband would ask me why I had bought it, since I didn't have anything big enough to put on it. And I think I need to get that out and I haven't. And that's been waiting for me a few more years there. And I think, why am I using this cheap crippled hoop? I even have another smaller Hinterburg that I bought. Four of us went up there to look at their quilting frames. One of us had bought this hoop and recommended it. So, one gal said, 'I want that.' And I said, 'I think I want that too.' And the fourth one, who didn't hand quilt, got one too. [laughs.] It's like we all worked on each other, [laughs.] I haven't assembled that either. And that's because I guess when I want to quilt, I just want to quilt. I don't want to assemble the hoop, which is really foolish, because I have an investment in that. [JG: agrees.] So, I'm using this hoop, that's going to fall apart, but now I may be forced to use something a little bit better. [laughs.] But I do like to have a hoop just to hold it.

JG: Well, then you're quilting in your lap as opposed to leaning a little forward for a floor hoop [EJ: Yeah.] What's your favorite thimble? Do you have a closed end thimble or an English tailor thimble?

EJ: I've got a closed end thimble. For a long while I used a silver thimble that came from my grandmother in Norway. I punched it a little too much. So now I have a brass one that I use. I do use--my underhand is pricked all the time. But I do put a thimble on when I--

JG: Have you ever used a thimble?

EJ: No. I think I probably have acquired a couple of different--I know I bought one at the [Wisconsin Quilters, Inc.] Symposium that was like a spoon kind of thing. It was so great and then I never used it. I don't know if all quilters do this. I see a tool and I think 'oh, I need that.' But I seem to go back to my old [laughs.], my old habits, rather than doing something new.

JG: The comfortable ones. Well, we're nearing the end. Is there something that you'd like to add? A message for the quilters out there?

EJ: [laughs.] Oh, gosh. I don't think there is any one technique that is any better than any other. I think there is room for them all. I guess I said it before. It's like in appliqué; you don't need to just stick with one technique. You need to have more than one arrow in your quiver, because the different situations will call for different things. I guess I just enjoy the whole thing. And it certainly kept my mind occupied, [JG agrees.] and my house full of books and patterns and fabric and tools [laughs.]

JG: Well, in that case Elrid, thank you very much. The interview ends at 11:45. Thank you for your time.

EJ: Oh, you're really welcome. It was delightful.



“Eldrid Johnson,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed February 24, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2090.