Whatever you do, do not say that it is a dying craft.
Quilting, says Marge Ellingson, is not only popular in the Northeast, but across the country and around the world as well.
“That’s the biggest misconception,” she explains. “There is a new renaissance with the generations coming up. Lots of times it’s something that is learned and passed down in families. You just grow up around it.”
Ellingson, secretary of the Country Quilters of Northeast Connecticut, says the age-old craft is seeing a rebirth due to magazines, websites and guilds that are making what was once retro now renewed.
The Plainfield group, which meets monthly at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday at Atwood Fire Company, is seeking new members. During the first part of their two-hour sessions, the nonprofit organization conducts its business meeting.
The Country Quilters is involved in charity work and community projects. The group also organizes bus trips and provides information about local and regional quilt shows. Most of the members are devised of residents in the Quiet Corner, from Putnam to as far south as Norwich.
The second half of the meeting is dedicated to what the members joined the group for – to share tips and materials, and talk about their passion for quilting.
“We’ve got beginners to people who have been quilting for 60 years,” says Ellingson, who began when she was 12 years old. “One member is in her 90s and she still does museum-quality, awe-inspiring work. We have a wide range of talents and skills.”
According to Quilt Chat, an online support group, quilting is the stitching which holds the three layers of the quilt “sandwich” together while forming a decorative design. Quilting can be done either by hand or machine.
Hand quilting is usually done in a quilting “hoop” or on a quilting “frame” using special needles, called “betweens” and quilting thread. The stitches are usually executed with one hand; the other hand is kept underneath the quilt to feel for the needle.
Typically, hand quilters prides themselves on making small, uniform running stitches. It is more important, however, that the stitches be straight and uniform than tiny. Either way, these stitches must go through to the backing, preferably to be the same size on the bottom as on the top.
Quilts are not just made to snuggle up under on a chilly winter day. They make beautiful hangings and are also used as a sign of peace and comfort.
The Country Quilters group has donated quilts to the Hole in the Wall Gang in Ashford and prayer flags to commemorate the Boston marathon bombing.
“The request was put out, so we started making them and sending them,” Ellingson says of the Boston event. “They were strung up as part of a display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.”
The group also provides quilts to the domestic violence shelter in Danielson and to the Wounded Warriors who are undergoing treatment at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
But despite their interest in the community service aspect, the women of the northeast group always remained focused on one thing — the love for the stitch.
“There are always new patterns and new methods coming out,” Ellingson says. “There are no limits. You can take it wherever you want it to go. It’s an art form.”
Ellingson is administrator of the group’s Facebook page. For more information, visit Country Quilters of Northeast Connecticut and leave a message.