New Mexico Centennial Quilt
New Mexico Centennial Quilt
People have been living in New Mexico for over 13,000 years, according to archeologists, making it one of the oldest sites of human habitation in the United States. In addition to its many centuries of population by Native Americans, New Mexico’s long and storied history includes time under the dominion of Spain and Mexico and six decades as a U.S. territory prior to becoming a state on January 6, 1912.
To celebrate the statehood centennial in 2012, a group of quilters in Alamogordo, New Mexico, known as the Love Knots, created a quilt called 47 Stars, so named because it commemorates New Mexico’s entry into the union as the 47th state. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez proclaimed a special day honoring the 47 Stars quilt as a fitting tribute to the state’s move from 63 years as a territory to full statehood.
The driving force behind the centennial quilt was 86-year-old Ruth Vaughan, who has a deep love for her home state, saying, “I wasn’t born in New Mexico, but I got here as soon as I could!” Ruth grew up around quilting, but didn’t take it up herself until she retired. After completing a community education class in quilting, her instructor suggested that Ruth start teaching the class. She then helped form the Enchanted Quilter’s Guild in Alamogordo, and served as its president for two years. Some of the guild members wanted to meet more often than the monthly guild meeting, and the Love Knots quilting bee was started in 1989.
When the 12 members of the Love Knots decided to make a centennial quilt, they discussed a number of ideas before agreeing on stars to depict New Mexico’s position as the nation’s 47th state. They then set about finding fabrics in colors that reflect those found in the state’s landscape.
Using Eleanor Burns’ “Radiant Star” pattern (from her Quilt in A Day series) as the quilt’s centerpiece, they decided to surround it with 46 smaller star blocks in a variety of patterns. They studied various sources for star blocks, searching books and looking at other quilts for inspiration. The finished blocks went up on the design wall in Ruth’s studio for placement. Some of the blocks turned out to be too large, and those were later made into charity quilts.
When the final block selections were made and the top was pieced, quilted, and bound, the resulting quilt measured 108” by 118”. The extensive hand quilting included flora and fauna native to the state.
It took the 12 members of the Love Knots over 500 hours to complete the quilt. “It means a lot to have a little part in celebrating the New Mexico state centennial. I wanted to do something to honor this very momentous occasion,” Vaughan says. “I quilted on it nearly every day—sometimes even on Sunday—for three months.”
Some lucky person is going to be able to own this piece of New Mexico history. The Love Knots are selling tickets to win the quilt ($5 for one ticket or $20 for six) and a drawing will take place on December 12, 2012. If you are interested, you can contact Ruth Vaughan by calling 575-437-4085 or 575-437-5162.
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