By Harley Nefe
Boone’s Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild has been working hard to give warm gifts to local foster children this winter season. As part of their latest project, they will be donating 30 children’s quilts for Christmas.
Members of the group contacted Social Services, which directed them to Children Services, and the members asked if they would like any children’s quilts.
“Children Services said it will be perfect for these kids because it will be something that’s their own and they can take with them wherever they go,” said Susan Sweet, who is the chairperson for workshops and special projects of the Guild. “They were very appreciative of our doing this for them.”
The children’s quilts aren’t the only projects the Guild has been making this year. Boone’s local Guild has donated 126 quilts to local institutions in the area, including the Watauga Medical Center newborn floor, Blue Ridge Partnership for Children, Daymark Recovery Services, Life Care Senior Center, American Red Cross, Children’s Advocacy Center and Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center.
Also for the Cancer Center, the Guild made heart-shaped stuffed pillows to go under the arm for women who have had mastectomies or operations for breast cancer. The pillows can provide cushion for when individuals have to get in the car and put a seatbelt on. These donations were the Guild’s project in the fall.
“When we found out about the heart pillows, we called the local doctor’s office that does most of the surgeries and inquired and also the cancer center at the hospital, and they were both really interested and appreciative,” Sweet said.
The Guild also usually donates regularly to the Hospitality House and provides baby quilts for the local pregnancy center; however, these places are not currently accepting donations right now because of COVID-19 concerns.
Therefore, members of the Guild reach out to different groups and organizations inquiring about making donations.
“We usually reach out to see if anybody needs them and sometimes we get a call from people like the Red Cross — they like giving out quilts because when people have a fire in the middle of the night, they would like quilts to just wrap the people up in,” Sweet said.
The Guild was organized in 1987, and it involves a group of about 30 women who enjoy quilting and friendship. The purpose of the group is to promote appreciation and education of the fine art of quiltmaking.
The donation quilts the Guild makes have a quilt top and then they put fleece on the back.
“It washes easily and it’s snuggly and it makes it very soft,” Sweet said.
The group normally meets once a month and has workshops; however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshops have been canceled and they have been having Zoom meetings.
Members of the group also come from all backgrounds of quiltmaking.
“We go have new beginning quilters and very experienced quilters, and we kind of teach each other,” Sweet said. “That’s one thing good about the workshops when you’re quilting with other people, no matter what stage you’re in, you can learn from the other person’s doing, and we share patterns and we share fabric.”
In order to obtain fabric and other materials to complete projects, the Guild has hosted fundraisers in the past; however, they normally get a lot of fabric donated to them. For example, if someone passes away and the family is cleaning out the house, they tend to donate fabrics to the Guild. Or sometimes they have people who start quilting and decide it wasn’t for them and they donate the materials.
“We’re always looking for donated fabrics, so if anybody has fabric they would like to donate, we would be glad to pick it up,” Sweet said.
Sweet has been with the Guild for around 12 years ever since she saw an ad in the newspaper. She was always into sewing, but never tried quilting before.
“We had just moved into town, and I was looking to meet people and make friends, and I saw there was a group that liked quilting and I thought, ‘Well, I would like to learn how to do that,’” Sweet said.
Now, over the years, Sweet has completed quite a few quilts. One of them was a Watauga alphabet quilt that had letters A-Z on it. Each block was different and had a letter on it that resembled something of the local area like C for cabins and S for snow.
“We’re always looking for new, young women who would like to learn how to do things like this,” Sweet said.
And by members of the group coming together and who all share the same interest in making quilts and other items, they are able to give donations to different causes, just like their latest project with the children’s quilts for the foster care system.
“It’s really been a fun project because when you’re working on it and you’re making the quilts, you know it’s going to go to a good cause and we’re thinking of the children,” Sweet said. “It probably makes us just as happy as it makes them.”