Twenty-five years ago, what is now the Latimer Quilt & Textile Center was an abandoned schoolhouse, originally built in the 1880s, with blackberries growing through the floors and birds flying in and out of holes in the ceiling.
By Ann Powers
Today, the former Maple Leaf School has found its place as a nonprofit with a significant role in a certain kind of ‘slow movement’ – not as in food, but as in fabric. The center is now a gathering of fiber and textile artisans sharing their passion for all things handcrafted.
Marilyn Anderson, a Latimer volunteer and weaving instructor, said being slow is crucial to their craft.
“People come in here and ask us how long it takes,” said Anderson, who has been with the center since its beginning in 1991. “And we tell them we haven’t the slightest idea. We just know we started doing (a project), and we’re still here.”
The ‘not-so-fast’ concept is spreading rapidly among younger generations.
“There’s a lot of demand for hand-woven goods on Etsy and Pinterest,” said Sofie Skein-Hall, a Latimer weaving student and owner of Bonjour Poupette in Garibaldi. “It’s crazy what a resurgence there’s been. A lot of young people are excited about weaving.”
Weaving and a whole lot more.
As it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, walking into Latimer is like walking into a treasure trove of highly-honed homestead hobbies. On any given day, visitors may find weavers or spinners demonstrating their fiber magic, quilters shaping another heirloom, rug hookers, needle pointers or a group of students learning age-old, and practical, traditions.
For example, the center offers an ongoing program for Wilson River School students to visit weekly and learn various crafts. Latimer associate manager Gail Grier recalled one teenager from the alternative high school who was introduced to basic sewing.
“He was so excited and said, ‘Now I can wear my pants!’” she remembered. “He ran home during the lunch hour and brought back a pair of (torn) pants for mending. We’ve had others who have made hats and they’re so excited they wear them home.”
In addition, Latimer offers bi-monthly exhibits featuring vintage textiles or contemporary fiber and textile work by local and nationally recognized artists. It also has a repository with handcrafted items dating back to the 1700s, a research library for on-site use, a gift shop full of handcrafted goods, books, yarn and vintage fabrics.
Bi-Annual Tidal Treasures Quilt & Fiber Festival set Oct. 7 – 8
Latimer is inviting the public to witness their wondrous wares at the Bi-Annual Tidal Treasures Quilt & Fiber Festival, featuring Latimer weavers, at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds this weekend. Organizers said the event draws hundreds of craft lovers nationwide and this year’s attendance could hit 500.
The festival is $5 for admission and will also include other various artisans, vendors, raffles and retail items. The event runs from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Latimer Quilt & Textile is located at 2105 Wilson River Loop Rd. in Tillamook. For more information call 503-842-8622.