Saturday, September 2, 2017

Quilters Through the Generations - Zia Part 2

Today I pick up with Zia's story...  

You can read Part I here...

"Zia’s Quilt Shop was on Main Street, Bastrop, Texas.
We were living in Victoria (our home town) and I drove 103 miles twice a day to and from Bastrop, 5 days a week for 3 years.  
My sister Kay wanted to go into Real Estate full time and because I had varied retail experience I told her I’d help for 3 years.

We rented an old house and the front rooms were her offices and I had the large enclosed back sun porch and a side porch for retail gifts, notions, and custom order ceramic items from Marshall pottery. 

We had a grand open house and the place was packed all day.  I held classes there where anybody could come in, visit, have a cup of coffee, stitch and chat.

After the 3 years, that was it."

In Victoria, I also had a custom design shop where I designed very elaborately appliqued garments, mostly skirts and shirts. The fabric appliques were machine satin stitched with variegated thread. I sold most all skirts to an upscale boutique. A-line wrap skirts will fit a slew of people…No I didn't keep any pictures nor my file of designs and pattern pieces. Foolish maybe but I got tired of that work.

Why did you give up quilting? 

I was tired of it and (it was) time to move on to other challenges. That is my nature to work like crazy for the “blue ribbon” so to speak.

Sometime in the ‘90s, I took over the farming operation for Miller Brothers LLC. You can’t "play house" and run a farming operation doing much of the labor yourself. Again I was on the road every day for 5 years and yes, I got very tired.

We decided to build a beautiful home in the coastal town of Matagorda on the very same property location where my husband Jack’s great-grandparents lived from 1841 until 1887 when they moved to Victoria.  After I gave up my position on the Alamo board in San Antonio and our house was finished, we moved in May 2001.  The ranch house was there but we never lived there. It was more of a camp house retreat near Bay City. Besides it was JACK’s HOUSE and I didn’t mess with his treasures.

In 2001 Jack and I greatly expanded our ranching operation covering 4 locations with the main ranching headquarters on the west side of the Colorado River at Bay City. Still on the road at least 50 miles or more a day. I usually drove Jack.  In January 2004 Jack had a close call that required major heart surgery so he handed me full reins of our ranching business. I have enlarged my herd inventory and cow calf operation. Daniel, my youngest son, has a working interest and cows on the Miller Ranch. I could not handle the operation without his help. We are a good working partnership team. Of course, I am the senior partner!!

Daniel has traveled the world with his work in the oil industry and would purchase some of the hand-dyed fabrics from the various countries - Nigeria and Indonesia, for example.

Zia had started a quilt for her husband Jack.  Jack was an avid duck hunter.  In this quilt top she had used a pre-printed panel (possibly a shower curtain?) and added borders of some of the beautiful fabric Daniel had purchased for her from Indonesia.  It was placed aside unfinished.  I picked up where she left off and finished the borders and quilted it with a pattern that resembled ripples in the water as a duck swims.  When finished it was returned to Zia and Jack for his pleasure.

"While caring for my husband Jack, I decided to go back to knitting and crocheting something I had given up 30+ years ago. While I was sitting with Jack in the nursing home, I would work and he would watch my hands. I made so many hats, afghans and stuff. Fun stuff to give away. I have a new patterning I am trying to master now. It is the Catherine’s Wheel. I am working on a nap cover.

My great hobby and passion is genealogy and history. It is something I work on a little every day. I wrote my first paper in 1959. I have compiled and published three family histories. Helped numerous people with their research which I love to do. Several years ago I compiled, typed and had published a cookbook for the Blessing Hotel Foundation (Blessing, TX). It is now in its 4th printing and still going strong. I didn’t tell you that I wrote a weekly food column in the 1970's and again starting in 2001 until I had enough in 2005. It was published in the Victoria Advocate.

Quilting is  truly an American art form where you are limited only by your imagination. No, I don’t quilt anymore but appreciate the beauty of others."

Were there other quilters in your family before you?

Here is a snippet of a well worn quilt made by Margaret E. Hamrick Crowell (1834-1917) (See Photo) while living in Lewis County Tennessee. It was made for her second child Marion Jethro Crowell (1872-1945), who was my grandfather. The family and this quilt came to DeSoto, Dallas County, Texas in 1875. My eldest aunt was the caretaker of the quilt until her death in Durant, Oklahoma in 1976. Her daughter who lived in Iowa, Louisiana saved it and in 1990 lovingly entrusted me in Victoria, Texas with this well traveled heirloom. 

It is truly a fine example of 1800's Tennessee quilting art. It has very thin fine thin combed cotton batting. The stitching is incredibly fine by anybody's standards. Not much remains of the red binding, but it was beautiful. It's a treasure to have and admire. My great Granny Crowell was a pioneer woman who found time to be an artist. 

As Mrs. Miller stated... "Think of all the work that hand saw in her 83 years."

I offer many thanks to Mrs. Miller for the various photographs included in her story as well as the memories and stories shared.  I am sure that you would agree, Zia is a multi-faceted Lady... and I hope that you have enjoyed her stories as much as I have.  Be sure to show some love to Zia by leaving a comment below.

Happy Quilting!


By the way, remember if you know a family with Quilters Through the Generations  that could be featured here, please let me know by emailing me at  THANKS!

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