I had a wonderful yo yo growing up and loved doing tricks with it. Did you know that there are pictures of yo yo’s on a Greek vase from 500 b.c.e.? In 1928 the Yo Yo Manufacturing company was founded by a Filipino immigrant to the United States. He made several key improvements to the toy which made performing tricks like “walking the dog” possible.
The origin of the yo yo comforter is found in the rosettes men and women of fashion wore to decorate clothing in the 17th and 19th centuries. At some point during that time period they were also renamed Suffolk Puffs, apparently because the frugal people of Suffolk, England would reuse scraps of fabric to make them, sometimes stuffing the gathered fabric circles with wool. Yo yo quilts became very popular during the 1930s, I’m assuming that the name changed in the U.S. due to the popularity of the circular toy. A quick search of the Quilt Index found that nearly three quarters of the yo yo comforter’s documented were dated around 1930.
A yo yo spread/comforter is not a true quilt. It is made of circular pieces of fabric gathered to make a rosette or yo yo (or Suffolk puff, in England). The yo yo’s are tacked together and can also be tacked to a backing fabric. It does not have a quilt ‘sandwich’ (fabric-batting-fabric). Yo yo’s are also used in dimensional applique. Here are some examples from online auctions and the Quilt Index:
Yo yo’s make a great portable project, they are easy to make (especially with the plastic yo yo makers now available) and they are fun. Although I’m not sure that I’m up to making 10,000 tiny yo yo’s for 1 comforter!!