The "seeds" for our little crazy quilting group were "planted" during the summers in the late 1990's when I volunteered and then worked as a site interpreter at Historic Murphy's Landing. Now known as The Landing, it is a lovely place where old homes from the surrounding area have been relocated and interpreters tell the story of the settling of the area along the Minnesota River Valley (1850's to 1890's - if you click here you can check it out). It was a lovely place to work. One could almost not call it "work"! It was a very peaceful place. I took the name of Martha which was my great grandmother's name. A few years earlier, I had learned that she had been a dressmaker and that was the "role" I usually took at Murphy's. The home I was most often assigned to was the Harms house, set in about 1860. There was an old treadle sewing machine, a loom and other accoutrement's of a seamstress in the house. One of my favorite things was when a group of young home-schooled girls would come to the Landing for a "learning day". I loved it when they would stop by "my house" and they love it because I had a sewing basket filled with scraps that they could use to sew dolls and such. We called our little group "Miss Martha's Sewing Circle". In my journal from 1999, date August 6th I wrote "Sewing Circle....meet girls 1:00 p.m.......We had a lovely time stitching on crazy quilt blocks and eating the English toffee I brought. It was really good." Just a few weeks before that I had accompanied my husband on a business trip to England so we were eating the goodies from that trip plus I shared laces I had bought in Nottingham.
In the summer of 1998, I proposed a plan to have volunteers and anyone who was interested in crazy quilting to make a 12" block for a crazy quilt that would be a raffle item at Murphy's Landing's Annual Adopt-a-House event. We had a lot of fun creating those blocks and the completed quilt raised a little over $2500 for The Landing. Definitely a success!
That next summer of 1999, we began work on another raffle quilt (embroidered and patchwork blocks) but still enjoyed working on crazy quilts, too. I had sewn the raffle quilt together and when it was finished, I really hated to part with it and so was determined to make one of my own. I remember telling Doc Pistulka (another volunteer who was a Doctor in real life but enjoyed playing the role of the village doctor at Murphy's Landing) that I thought a good name for our sewing circle would be "The Ladies of the Landing Philanthropic Sewing Society". He laughed as he should have as no one would want to say that more than once and so that idea never grew. Then one day after some of us came in from a day of "work" in the houses, we were talking about how nice it would be if we could continue to meet all year round and continue to crazy quilt. Minnesota winters are no fun in a house or building with no heat or just a small log stove!! Judith, the Education coordinator at the Scott County Historical Society, was at the Landing that day and heard us talking and said "why not meet at the Historical Society?" And so we did! The seed had blossomed for what would become our crazy quilt group.