Patricia Almy Randolph

1932 - 2008

 

Patricia passed away in her home on May 9, 2008 surrounded by her family. She will be missed by all who knew her. Taken from the Quilter's Hall of Fame Newsletter, spring 2000 below is an article written by Hazel Carter about Patricia's remarkable contribution to quilt history.

 

Patricia Almy Randolph & Nimble Needle Treasures

by Hazel Carter

 

Quilt networking was quite limited in the late 1960's. Two women, both editors, were plowing the ground and planting the seed that would eventually lead to the great quilt organizations and quilt markets we know today. You know the first one, Bonnie Leman, of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. Few have heard of the second one, Patricia Almy Randolph, but she deserves recognition for her pioneer work in the great quilt revival, as magazine editor and prolific quilt pattern collector.

 

Nimble Needle Treasures was born of Patricia's desire to "preserve the art of quiltmaking; renew the interest in historical research of quilt scholars, pattern designs, designers and quiltmakers; and to present real in-depth coverage of quilt topics, and reports on current quilt related activities." The first issue was "amateurish at best" but it was a product of "my heart and with love and hard work... (it) grew with each issue." NNT was fist published in September 1969, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, just south of Tulsa. One thousand copies of that issue were mailed to quilters and pattern collectors, which resulted in "an overwhelming response."

 

The scope of Patricia's articles and columns was expansive. My first exposure to NNT was the Fall 1971 issue which contained an article on Hawaiian quilting, a new style at that time for me, as well as quilt happenings in New York City via the pages of The New York Times. Still another article told of a formal tea held at the exhibit of the Genesee Valley Quilt Club, the oldest social quilting group in America. Even the ads were interesting, for they introduced readers to the latest quilt patterns, to dealers seeking quilts, and to quiltmakers seeking work--the potential market of this emerging quilt revival.

 

Quilt patterns were but a small segment of NNT, though several pattern series were offered over the years. Patricia's preference was for patterns to be placed in their historical context.

 

Many columns were written by researches of the 60's and 70's. Delores Hinson had her own column, "The Quilter's Notebook." Maxine Teele was another big contributor, who appeared with her quilts on the cover of the Summer 1973 issue. A regular series was titled "Quilting from California" --or from Canada, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, or Pennsylvania--showing the breadth of coverage. Letha Rice reported on Kansas quilting while Mildred Saffell from Maine covered the while of New England in her columns.

 

NNT introduced readers to first-ever-in-print news about Ladies Art Co., a chronological study of quilt kits, the Smithsonian quilt collection, and the Index of American Design at the National Gallery of American Art. The researcher of those news items was none other than Cuesta Benberry, QHF Honoree. Patricia commented, "My association with Cuesta Benberry was the backbone of NNT historically and it would not have been the same magazine without her. Her first submission was... about the Hatfield-McCoy Victory Quilt of World War II, a ballad or song that had been made up about the quilt of the infamous feuding families, and also... about the Freedom Quilting Bee of Gees Bend, Alabama, one of the first quilt cottage industries formed during the War on Poverty programs of the 1960's.

 

Cuesta's columns were varied and thorough. In a recent e-mail, Cuesta remembered, "How easy it was to work with Pat... She let me have lee-way to do what I wanted. If an article was too long... she would divide it into parts. So I had 2-part articles, 3-part articles, even a 5-part article-- 'Quilt Patterns of Late Victorian Era.'"

 

Cuesta believed it would not be "professional" if too many articles appeared with her name attached; therefore, she requested that some of her articles appear anonymously. It is easy to recognize Cuesta's many columns even without her name attached. On quilt personalities, Patricia reported, "Cuesta wrote the first article about Bertha Stenge (QHF Honoree) to appear in a quilt magazine." In addition, she wrote about the work of Mary Schafer and about Marie Webster's quilt patterns as well.

 

Patricia's Editor's Notes were filled with detailed information covering quilt shows, new products, quilt articles in current non-quilt related magazines and new books and quilt exhibition catalogues that were at last coming on the market. In a 1975 editorial, Patricia admonished those offering pattern reprints of original designs to designate them as "adaptations" if indeed that is what they were, and, for the benefit of pattern collectors, they needed to acknowledge the source of the patterns if known. "What is important is that all accurate information should be attached to patterns." Patricia's editorial notes were generally two columns long, but now and then they carried over onto other pages, always ending "till next time..."

 

Unbeknownst to Patricia, another quilt publication was launched in Colorado in the same month and year that she launched NNT. The Colorado publication, Quilter's Newsletter, would become well known to quilters around the world. QHF Honoree Bonnie Leman had inherited her mother's quilt pattern collection, giving Bonnie the incentive to publish her newsletter. QM was circulated monthly and generally gave it's readers the latest contemporary news, whereas NNT was a quarterly magazine with a focus on quilt history.

 

It is interesting to note that the two editors, along with many of their early contributors, were connected to quilt pattern collecting. Could one postulate that those stalwart quilt pattern collectors of the 1960's were the backbone of the third quilt revival of the 20th century?

 

Patricia recognized quilt pattern collectors in the Spring 1972 NNT issue with a listing of 98 ladies from across the USA and Canada. In Vol. 6, No. 1 (1974) there was a new listing that introduced 65 more collectors. These numbers make me wonder how many pattern collectors are out there today? In the 1974 issue was an even more amazing listing. It gave the names and addresses of 254 ladies who quilted for others. A hard task today is to find one quilter to quilt one's quilt.

 

These two unknown editors bravely took on the world of publishing at the dawn of a new era, never dreaming what they were about to set in motion. Jointly, these two publications were instrumental in building a community of quilt enthusiasts. From this newly established community came national and international communications, contests, collections, research and scholarship, as well as the nitty-gritty "how-to" of quilting.

 

Patricia Almy Randolph and Bonnie Leman truly changed the shape of quilting history when they launched these two quilt publications. It was with great loss in 1975 when Patricia ceased publication with her 24th issue, due to illness. Today she feels NNT "was not my magazine... it belonged to the subscribers." Patricia can be proud that Nimble Needle Treasures was a dedicated publication of serious quilt history.