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Our History

by Rachel K. Ivey
© 1999

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What exactly is a Y2K quilt?

Y2K, or year 2000, quilts are quilts which have been made to commemorate the coming of the year 2000 and whose main design is based on 2000 pieces of fabric. They are made by swapping fabric squares with other quilters around the world in sets of 25 squares (either 2.5" or 3" in size) plus one signature square, using e-mail and the Internet to arrange these trades. Each Y2K quilter made a minimum of 80 swaps in order to have the needed 2000 squares for a Y2K quilt. Most Y2K quilts include the signature squares of each fellow quilter with whom its maker swapped. Many Y2K quilters accomplished their goal of swapping with a person from each US state, the District of Columbia, and as many foreign countires as possible, with some going so far as to also swap with each province of Canada and each state of Australia. Many of our exhibit quilts feature just such extensive signature square collections from their Y2K swaps.

Looking through the photos on our Exhibit and Gallery pages, you will be amazed just how creative and different these quilts look. Despite each quilter beginning with essentially the same thing (2000 squares of fabric), you will find that each and every quilt is a unique creation. The Y2K quilters who swapped the larger 3" size were able to make half-square triangles from their swapped squares to enable them greater flexibility in quilt design, but even those who swapped the smaller 2.5" size were able to create visually interesting quilts. 19 different US states and 2 foreign countries (Australia and Israel) are represented in our official exhibit. Every area of the US is represented (Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, Northeast, and the Midwest). The exhibit quiltmakers' ages range from 27 to 68 and represent over 400 years of combined quilting experience.

These quilts are unique in that they are meant to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime event, quilters cooperated with each other on a global level to swap sets of squares, and in that computers and the Internet played a vital and necessary role in their creation and completion to a level not previously seen in the quilting world. It was the uniqueness of these quilts that led us to assemble this exhibit, with the purpose of seeing these quilts on display at the 2000 International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. We have lined up The Electric Quilt Company, QUILT Magazine, and others to sponsor our exhibit to IQF 2000.

The History of the Exhibit

The idea for this exhibit began in April, 1999 when, in response to a growing desire on the part of these Y2K quilters to see these unique quilts displayed together, a lone quilter volunteered to tackle the job of organizing the attempt. An informational web site was developed and a OneList e-mail newsletter was begun. In May 1999, submission guidelines, an application process and deadlines were established. By the October 15th deadline 35 quilt applications had been received, and on November 1st the names of the 25 winning quilts were announced online. Currently there are over 90 quilters on the exhibit information newletter list, receiving regular updates on our progress, and our exhibit web site, complete with online quilt photo gallery and the most extensive listing of Y2K quilting-related web links currently online, has received over 12,000 visitors since April, 1999.

As of July 25, 2000, we are a fully funded exhibit. We have raised over $4,000 in sponsorship funds so that these quilts will be on display in Houston. Currently, plans are underway to organize a formal meeting of Y2K quilters in Houston. It should prove to be a night full of fun, fellowship, and the chance to meet fellow swappers, previously known only via the Internet.

Submission Guidelines

1-Quilts must have been made from squares traded by finding swappers over the Internet.
2-Quilts must not have been made before 1998.
3-The main design of the quilt should be based on 2000 pieces.
4-Signature blocks are optional but highly suggested.
5-Quilts should be as visually interesting as possible.
6-Half-square triangles are acceptable as long as made from Y2K squares traded via the Internet.
7-The inclusion of untraded fabric for use in sashing, borders, and/or backing is allowed.
8-Quilts may be either hand or machine quilted.
9-All quilts must be clearly labeled with your name, city, state, country, and name of quilt.
10-Quilts submitted for consideration must be completed on or before August 1st, 2000.

Miscellaneous Exhibit Information

In the unlikely event that one of these quilts will be unable to participate in the exhibition, 5 quilts have been selected to stand by as alternates.

The organizing of this exhibit has been an entirely grassroots effort. No one involved is profiting from the possible inclusion of this exhibit in the Festival. The informational how-to booklet, "Y2K Quilts: A Quilter's Guide to the New Millennium" is being sold over the Internet and its proceeds have been covering the expenses for this effort.