Landmarks Gallery - First Floor
Knit & Purl
A Snapshot of Knitting History
Echo Mae, Guest Curator
November 1, 2023 - January 21, 2024
Knitting holds a rich yet elusive history. While the exact origins remain a mystery, most agree that its roots lie in the Middle East. From there, this craft meandered its way through northern Africa and the Mediterranean, eventually threading its path across Europe. The discovery of an 11th-century knitted sock from Egypt stands testament to knitting's ancient legacy.
Europe, with its diverse cultures and traditions, embraced knitting, leading to the birth of unique regional styles and techniques. As Europeans began to explore and colonize North America, knitting accompanied these European settlers. The ever-evolving tapestry of history, marked by migration, colonization, and cultural amalgamation also wove knitting into the fabric of the Coast Salish culture.
For some, knitting became a livelihood or done for utility; for others, a means to create heartfelt gifts for loved ones or those in need. The very act of knitting has always been synonymous with community and connection. The northern Puget Sound region stands as a testament to this. Knitters from this area have crafted with purpose, whether it was fashioning treasured family heirlooms, knitting for soldiers, generating income, knitting for fashion, or simply keeping traditions alive.
This exhibit is a tribute to their legacy. While the displayed artifacts and images provide a glimpse into their world, the true testament to their contribution is the thriving knitting communities we see today. Our region, with its bustling yarn shops, vibrant knitting circles, and celebrated fiber festivals, draws inspiration from these past artisans. We walk, with gratitude, in their knitted trails, even as we explore new paths, ensuring that this timeless craft is passed down to future generations.
About Echo Mae
Echo Mae is a knitter and fiber artist, writer, speaker, instructor, knitting designer and board member of the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum. Her designs often draw inspiration from popular culture, literature, and mythology, and her speaking engagements explore the history and culture of fiber arts. She is co-owner of Northwest Yarns & Mercantile in Bellingham, WA, and author of the online journal Know Your Fiber, which explores the history and culture surrounding fiber animals and plants.
Art Evolved: Intertwined
(SAQA Global Exhibition)
Presented by Studio Art Quilt Associates
and the National Basketry Organization
November 29, 2023 - March 3, 2024
There is a continuum where beauty and function blend and diverge in the hands of the contemporary artist. Even when traditional materials such as thread, fabric, wood, reed, and paper are used, these artists combine skill, imagination, and vision to meld their materials into compelling and beautiful art which resonates in today’s world. Artists were invited to participate in this conversation between media to illustrate the continuum between beauty and functionality.
David Paul Bacharach
Larry P. Clifford
Jeffrey Lloyd Dever
Lisa Flowers Ross
Jayne Bentley Gaskins
Dan B. Olfe
The Jim Erickson Collection
November 1, 2023 - February 4, 2024
This collection was recently donated to the museum by American-Canadian James Erickson, award-winning movie set decorator.
Erickson won the Academy Award for Best Production Design for his work on Lincoln, and was nominated for There Will Be Blood, among many of his other credits. Jim traveled all around the world while pursuing his career and began to collect quilts and textiles from many of the places he visited.
He recently approached the museum about donating some of his quilts and woven coverlets so Carla Schultz-Parks, Collections Manager, and Joy Neal, Board President, made the trip to Salt Spring Island and spent two days going through his collection. Jim was gracious and generous. He only wanted the items to find a good home. We could have any of several lovely quilts, woven coverlets and quilt books. Each trunk and cupboard he opened was filled with delightful pieces. Sometimes he knew nothing of the maker, he just loved the design and bought it. Others had stories or were clearly marked with a date and/or name.
"How I wish we could have brought all of the pieces back with us." said Carla. "We had to consider condition, design (do we already have a bunch of that style) and how or if we could display them. It came down to hard decisions and in the end we brought back 42 beautiful pieces."
As Joy said, “We only had so much room in the car!”