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Brenda Murry, left, the newest club member, with Susan Sweet, display one of the quilts of
valor that will be given to a veteran later this year.
Photo by Sherrie Norris



Originally published: 2014-07-07 10:47:58
Last modified: 2014-07-07 10:50:42

Quilting for a cause

by Sherrie Norris

Quilting has been an important part of life in the High Country area for several generations and is a rich tradition being kept alive by women of all ages. 

This remains especially true for the approximate 30 women who make up the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild, said Susan Sweet, who has been an active member of the club for about seven years and is in charge of special programs and workshops. 

"We come together every month and bring our personal machines to work on special projects as a group and to share with each other what we are doing individually," Sweet said.

Not only have strong, lasting friendships developed among the all-female guild, but many special projects have also been completed and donated throughout the community and beyond to warm the hearts and lives of others.

The guild was organized in 1987 to promote the appreciation of and education about the fine art of quilting, Sweet said.  

A central focus of the group is community outreach through its "donation quilt" projects, in which countless quilts have been made and given to individuals, nursing homes, hospitals and other locations where a little extra warmth is needed and appreciated.

In 2013, more than 100 quilts were completed and distributed through the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild.

Just recently, 25 baby quilts were presented to Hope Pregnancy Center in Boone. Others have been distributed recently to the Blowing Rock Extended Care facility, to veterans through the Wounded Warrior project, and to homebound elderly, to name a few.

Among several quilts currently near completion, Sweet said, is one reminiscent of a 1930s feed sack, a very popular replica fabric, which will be donated to the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center in Boone. 

"It's our expression of gratitude for the ongoing use of the conference room, where we have met for many years," she said.  

Four quilts will soon be sent to the headquarters of the National Quilts of Valor to be distributed to veterans. The mission of the foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts designed and made especially for them.

In 1998, the guild participated in making a commemorative quilt for the Watauga County sesquicentennial, which is displayed in the county courthouse. 

"We also provided the Watauga County quilt squares for the Blue Ridge Parkway's 75th anniversary celebration quilt," Sweet said. 

Additionally, the guild has two special quilts hanging at the Hospitality House that were created for the new facility.

Most of the quilters are retired, with extra time on their hands to devote to the group, with the numbers of participants increasing in the summer months as seasonal residents return to the area. 

For Joanna Roberts, a young mother of three children, however, it requires planning ahead to carve out a few hours of her busy schedule every month to join her mentors and friends.  But, as the youngest quilter of the group and currently the longest serving member, she tries to make it work on a regular basis. "It's me-time," she said. "I can't find time to quilt at home, but I love to do it here."

 "We have young quilters, middle age quilters and we even have one lady who is 97, quilts from her home and donates her finished work for us to pass on to others," Sweet said.

The monthly, year-round gatherings begin at 1:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month in the upstairs conference room of the Human Services Building, 132 Poplar Grove Connector, in Boone.

In addition to quilting, the members enjoy a lunch break together each month, as well as special programs, workshops and group outings during the year.

New members are always welcome.

For more information, call Sweet at (828) 263-8399 or email (ssweet@bellsouth.net)