Kawandi Quilting Part 2

Dear Liza,

I had so much fun with my first Kawandi style quilt, I wanted to make another one! I had noticed that many Kawandi are made with shiny fabrics, so I pulled out the shiniest fabrics I have: Robert Talbot tie silk given to me by Ruth Andresen five years ago.

I have put off using these treasures because I have never worked with silk before and everything about it scares me. What if I made horrible mistakes and wasted it? But I realized that the biggest waste would be leaving it in the box for another five years. So I jumped in.

I discovered that cutting the silk is the first challenge. It slips and slides under the scissors as though it were alive and trying to escape! I pulled out my dangerously sharp rotary cutter and, with lots of patience, got some pieces cut.

Pressing the edges was the next challenge. How hot is too hot? How hot is not hot enough? This took another hour. But without the pressing, the next part would be impossible.

Because the silk is slippery, every step was harder. Pinning every edge of every piece was necessary to get anything sewn accurately. My fingers got sore from pinching while sewing. Once I got the first ‘frame’ done, I took a break. Since this piece is only about a foot square and doesn’t need to keep anybody warm, I decided not to lay in a filler layer.

I kept laying down pieces and trying to keep my stitches even while sewing close enough to the edges to sew everything down. It was starting to feel like work.

I was frustrated by the slippery fabric and the easily fraying edges. I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I WAS going to finish it!

In the middle of the day, Grandpa Nelson took me out for hot dogs and ping pong at Zach’s. When we came back, I had a fresh perspective on the piece. I liked it. A lot.

I kept pinning and sewing until it was done. I did a few tiny stitches to hold some lose corners down, and called it good. Because the silk frays so easily, I did not put the little triangles called ‘phula’ on the corners. I guess this Kiwandi will have to remain unfinished.

I am really happy I made a Kiwandi out of Ruth’s silks, and that I stuck with it to the end.

Thanks, Ruth!


Grandma Judy

Giving Back

Dear Liza,

While we were living in Salinas, I got to be friends with a wonderful lady named Ruth Andresen. Ruth is the mother of Pete, one of the most involved parents University Park ever had, and grandmother of four of our students. Ruth was born in 1921, so she is exactly the age your great grandma Billie would be.

I met Ruth because we were both active at The First Mayor’s House, also called The Harvey Baker House, the oldest building in Salinas. Ruth has lived in Salinas since the 1940’s and actually knew some of the people who lived in this historic house, Florence Baker and her sister Helen. They were little old ladies when she was a young wife and mother in the 1950s, and she used to go visit them. They would tell her stories of their childhood in 1890s Salinas. She heard history, as they say, from the horse’s mouth!

The First Mayor’s House

When I was learning about Salinas history to write stories and curriculum for the House, I started visiting Ruth. We talked about history, but she also told me about her life. She was a geology student at Stanford University when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, which started the western end of World War II. As a graduate, she worked in Washington to help create maps that helped with the Normandy Invasion! “It was such an exciting time to be a young woman in the world”, she said. “There was important work to be done and we got to do it.”

Ruth is still helping people learn about history. She does spinning demonstrations to show people how pioneers turned wool into yarn, and gives lectures about the “Old Days”.

She also helped organize the very first Founder’s Day Celebration in Salinas. The first one was so small, even the newspaper didn’t say much about it, but by the second in 2017, there were hundreds of people! In 2018, thousands of people came to visit the Harvey House, attend lectures, play carnival games, listen to music, and have pony rides. It took dozens of people to make it happen, including my dear friend and former Principal, Mary Randall, but at the center of it was Ruth. In my carelessness, I do not have a photo this wonderful woman! (I was probably enjoying our conversations so much I hated to interrupt for a photo.) Silly Grandma Judy.

Display at Founder’s Day

Anyway, for the second Founder’s Day, there was going to be a quilting booth, showing folks how to quilt and displaying old and new quilts. I was going to make a small one during the day as a demonstration. But so many other groups wanted booths, the quilting booth didn’t happen.

Almost done quilt, and Mouse the cat

And now, with the extra time that comes from not preparing lessons and teaching every day, I have gotten it out and am almost done. It will be wrapped up and returning to Salinas very soon. Thanks for all the stories, Ruth!


Grandma Judy