Craig quilters find it gratifying to make, give gifts that comfort others
Young and old, the sick and cold — when seeking comfort many people cuddle up in a cozy blanket.
“Quilts represent comfort. It’s gratifying to give one to someone in need,” said Kathy Blevins, a member of Hand-On Quilters.
Hands-on Quilters is a small group of Craig women who make special blankets — patchwork quilts — they give away to people that might need the security and comfort offered by a handmade gift.
The group started in 2002 when professional quilter and former Craig resident Cheryl Bush was given fabric from the family of Elaine Van Tassel after Van Tassel’s death in 2000.
The group meets for one day each month January to November, to sew. In the summer months, they gather at Leta Kernen’s home to enjoy potluck lunch along with their sewing.
“Our family does community service. It’s nice to do it in something you can enjoy,” Kernen said. “I really love this group.”
The ladies take turns teaching patchwork patterns to each other with many of their ideas from Missouri Star Quilts, a company that provides videos and step-by-step diagrams to help quilters create the patches.
Individuals then use donated fabric and their own supplies to complete a quilt based on the pattern. They finish between 30 to 50 quilts each year, which amounts to hundreds of quilts over the 15 years that the group has existed.
“My love of quilting was passed down from my maternal grandmother. I can only have so many quilts in my house, so this allows me to enjoy my love of quilting knowing that I have a place to have them go,” said Sheri Sanford.
Quilts with fabrics in a patriotic theme are sent to the VA Hospital in Grand Junction. The rest of the quilts stay in the community and are given out through the Senior Social Center, Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center, Advocates Crisis Support Services, and Memorial Regional Health’s Oncology Unit.
Susan Erikson helps to coordinate the transfer of quilts from the group to nonprofits. Unlike other members of the group, Erikson started sewing young, about age 6, and used her skills to clothe her family and bring in extra money.
“It was work,” she said.
Then her grandma Herold, who was from Baggs, Wyoming, gave her a quilt. For the first time, she started to think of sewing as creative and fun. Then Kernen encouraged her to join Hands-On Quilters.
“I went gangbusters,” Erikson said.
The group continues to welcome new members, donations of fabrics and quilts, and more quilts that would appeal to men. It’s a lot of work but offers the women a priceless payoff.
“My reward is in the giving,” Barbara Beason said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.