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Sweet, Parthena; and other quilters
Friendship Signature Chimney Sweep Quilt Friendship Signature Chimney Sweep Quilt
around 1865 around 1865

Quilts often have a commemorative function. Some contain scraps from garments that had personal meaning. Others incorporate actual signatures, in ink or thread, of their makers and/or other community members. Called Signature quilts, these were often made for an occasion or for someone moving away. Viewing such a quilt was intended to invoke fond memories. Friendship quilts are a particular type of Signature quilt in which the same block design is used throughout — possibly replicating the autograph albums so popular among Victorian ladies. The Chimney Sweep was a common pattern for these quilts because of the label-like centre of each block. The names on this quilt are of family and friends of Parthena Sweet.

This Friendship Signature Chimney Sweep quilt is composed of 81 squares of primarily brown printed cotton fabric, and contains 80 names (the owner’s name is listed twice) of both men and women; only one block is blank. According to area historian Keith Sly, “many were related to Parthena Sweet. Her father, Allen Sweet was prominent in the community and active in the Methodist church. There were likely many visitors to the Sweet home which might explain the names of individuals from other communities.” The Sweets lived on Lot 19, Concession X, Leeds Township (Sweet’s Corners). Sly has identified 37 names as known to have been related to Parthena Sweet, and about 20 names of neighbours living in the Leeds area; “it appears that some of the blocks were included as memorials to family members who had died.” Sly proposes that the quilt was made at the time of Parthena Sweet’s 19 June 1865 marriage to Skyler Shibley Lake, a carpenter from Ernestown Township, west of Kingston: “members of her father’s family lived in the Napanee area and it is probable that the couple met while Parthena was teaching or visiting there.” The couple settled in Lydnhurst.

One can speculate that as Parthena anticipated leaving Leeds County a married woman, this quilt was made as a keepsake by which to remember her family and friends. On one square, her name is written as “Parthena Lake” and on another is written “Parthena Sweet her quilt,” perhaps indicating a change in marital status during the course of the quilt’s completion.

 
Sweet, Parthena; and other quilters
Friendship Signature Chimney Sweep Quilt Friendship Signature Chimney Sweep Quilt
around 1865 around 1865
cotton, cotton batting and ink cotton, cotton batting and ink
168.0 x 173.7 cm
Gift of Helen Sweet, 2011 Gift of Helen Sweet, 2011
Q11-001

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