International quilters keep hand quilting art going strong

Years ago pioneer women would get together for quilting bees, carefully hand stitching each tiny stitch on intricate designs with love

International Quilters: Judy Frayn

Years ago pioneer women would get together for quilting bees, carefully hand stitching each tiny stitch on intricate designs with love and careful precision.

As they worked, they would indulge in ‘women talk’, chatting and laughing and visiting.

And as their needles flew, so did their chatter.

And as they spent hours completing their handiwork, they sewed together not only beautiful quilts, but bonds of friendship that, more often than not, lasted forever.

Today, it seems the art of hand quilting has been lost, disappearing along with wringer washers and coal and wood stoves and front verandas.

However, if one was to visit the International Truck Museum in Rimbey on a Monday or a Tuesday morning, they would discover that hand quilting is not quite a lost art.

Here at the truck museum, among the rows of International Trucks, one will find the International Quilters, a group of ladies who have continued to keep the art of hand quilting very much alive for the last 30 years.

“It seems we have been quilting forever,” said Jean Warta. I would say at least for 30 years.”

Warta, who came from Holland in 1957 said she didn’t know how to quilt when she first arrived in Rimbey.

“They taught me in a hurry,” she said with a chuckle. “I couldn’t speak English when we first came, but I listened and I learned. And I loved it, (the quiling) it was a great way to get to know the people.”

In their years of quilting, the ladies have made many baby quilts for the Rimbey Hospital, donated quilts to FCSS, the Ronald McDonald House, and, also supplied quilts to other families who have suffered a loss such as a house fire.

Presently the ladies are working on a quilt which was started by Bobbi Anderson, a well-known Rimbey native who passed away on Christmas Day, 2013.

One of the quilters, Judy Frayn said all the squares of the quilt which has the Rose of Sharon pattern were embroidered by the late Bobbi Anderson.

“It is very beautiful,” she said. “It has two shades of pink on a white background.”

The quilt is large; nine and a half feet square, is fiber filled and has a sheeted back.

“I couldn’t put a price tag on,” said Frayn. “It is going back to her family. Bobby was very gifted,” she added.

The International Quilters are hoping to finish the Rose of Sharon quilt by November and, no doubt, will then take a break for Christmas.

But one can be sure when the new year rolls around, they will be hard at work again, busily making a new quilt that may, one day, be tenderly tucked around a tiny infant or placed lovingly around the knees of an elderly shut in.

One can be sure that wherever the quilt goes, it will have been hand quilted by a group of ladies who have kept alive not only the age old tradition of hand quilting, but the unspoken rules of friendship and caring.