The founding members of The Enchanted Quilters taken in 1984: Marge Gradl, Gladys Alexander, Francis Currier (in back), Bertha Kurutz, Wini Alexander, Edith Schwendeman (and husband Harold), Charlotte Lamoureaux, Bernadette Butler and Ernestine Moffitt. Millie Gillespie and Millie Cowan were among the first members also but are not shown in this photo.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Although there was talk of forming a quilt group as early as 1981 on Lopez Island, it wasn't until 1984 that a formal group of quilters coalesced. The group was begun by members of the Senior Center specifically for the purpose of making a raffle quilt to help the Lopez Seniors earn money to establish a new meeting place. My mother-in-law, Wini Alexander, was one of those instrumental in the founding of The Enchanted Quilters. Her 30 years of correspondence with me is archived in my quilt history files.
That first group of dedicated quilters successfully raised $2,000 with their first raffle, a series of appliqué blocks done in traditional Celtic patterns. It's unusual for a group effort to tackle applique. The fact that they did attests to their skill and ambition.
And, yes, 26 years later the members of The Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island are still making raffle quilts to raise funds for Senior Services. In fact, they made two colorful quilts this year, a Log Cabin pattern predominantly in blues and tans and North Wind, a delightful scrap quilt. Either quilt will fit any décor! You will find EQ members selling tickets at the Lopez Village Market during the Tour de Lopez this week as well as at the Farmers’ Market all summer.
Lopez Island has a long history of quilting. It probably began with the first European-American female settlers who arrived on the island 1869-1870. We do know that Amelia Davis, one of the first white women to settle on Lopez, mentioned quilting in her diaries.
Quilting and needlework in general enjoyed a big boost in popularity here in the USA in the late 1960s as the “back-to-earth movement” grew in popularity and in the ‘70s as the Bi-Centennial approached. Those on Lopez Island who loved plying a needle got another big boost of inspiration with the opening of The Enchanted Needle needlework shop in October of 1976.
This colorful shop opened in a section of the building that now houses the Fudge Factory and the Bay Café. The needlework shop, founded by the mother/daughter-in-law team of Millie and Tammy Cowan, opened at the east end or “village end” of the building with a much smaller Bay Café at the water end or west end of the building. In between the two —for a couple of years—was the Rub-A-Dub Pub.
As the businesses grew and shop owners readjusted their dreams and plans, The Enchanted Quilter moved to the west end of the building overlooking the water about 1978 and stayed in this spot until the shop was sold in 1988 to Dawn Lease. Then once again the quilt shop and the café swapped places and both gradually expanded.
It was the desire to raise funds for the Senior Center that finally brought quilters together in the 1980s. In the process of making that first raffle quilt, they established such camaraderie that they decided to continue meeting. Those first members were (as seen in the 1984 photo above): Marge Gradl, Gladys Alexander, Francis Currier (in back), Bertha Kurutz, Wini Alexander, Edith Schwendeman (and husband Harold), Charlotte Lamoureaux, Bernadette Butler and Ernestine Moffitt. Millie Gillespie and Millie Cowan were among the first members also but are not shown in this photo.
The group chose the name Enchanted Quilters of Lopez & Shaw Island because of their great appreciation for Millie's quilt shop. In time they were simply referred to as the Enchanted Quilters.
In 2004 a search began to find a buyer for The Enchanted Needle as Dawn Lease prepared to retire. When a buyer could not be found, the shop closed in October 2005 thus another chapter in the business history of Lopez Village came to a close.
However, another much smaller quilt-related shop opened in the Village over Vita’s in 2000 — The Quilters Studio/Anne Dawson’s Quilt Restorations, a business which sells new and antique quilts and repairs and restores quilts. The Notion Nook was added in June 2008.
Stop by and get your winning ticket and help the Seniors of Lopez at the same time! The winning ticket will be drawn at EQ’s first fall meeting September 14th. Let’s hope you buy the winning ticket to one of these beautiful quilts!