Sewing together many memories

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003

During the months of January, February and March, every Monday at 8:30 a.m. quilters meet to tie material together at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. This annual ritual has been going on for more than 40 years. The quilts that these ladies tie go to World Relief, the Orphan Grain Train, the American Red Cross and if there is a local need, to The Salvation Army.

The basement of Holy Cross is a cozy, pleasant place to meet on frigid winter mornings. The women have quilting frames, clamps, scissors, needles, wooden blocks to make the tables higher, two sewing machines, thread and yarn. The women work well together and they say they are all bosses so not one person makes all the decisions.

Hazel Hinz is the current chair of the women's quilting group. She is the oldest church member at Holy Cross. Another member that has belonged to Holy Cross as long as Hinz is Loretta Rappe, who currently lives in a nursing home. Hinz took over the quilting chair position from Mae Highetshore who was in charge for 12 years.

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"Mae had a lot of energy and was very good at being chair," said Hinz.

Helping Hinz tie quilts on a cold Monday in early January are Rhoda Burger, Karen Sellers and Lorene Rector. Sellers has been part of the Holy Cross quilt group the longest. Gertrude Marquardt and Dorothy Swenson usually come to tie but they have left early on this particular day as they had other appointments.

The women work well together, moving in unison, laying out the sheets and tucking them in the sides under the wooden quilting frames. They lay a pretty blue cloth on top of the sheet, using a tape measure to make sure the material lays even.

The women opt to use white yarn to tie the sheet and blue cloth together. Cut-out cardboard blocks are laid on the material and large needles with the white yarn threaded through are pierced through the cloth at the cardboard corners. Neat rows of tied white yarn are sewn into the cloth. Some of the quilts they tie are made up of sewn blocks. The women sew and cut the blocks at home. The final sewing of the quilts is usually finished up at home.

Lorene Rector said, "None of us do fine quilting. Hazel has done quite a bit, but this is only tying quilts."

The women enjoy their fellowship and usually stop for coffee and cookies. On this particular day, no coffee is available and Hinz offered the workers crackers and water. The women laughed and said they were on the "jail train" with only water and crackers to eat.

The material for all the quilts is all donated and it is always welcome. The winter mornings go by quickly and four quilts are tied on this particular morning. In 2002, the women tied 50 quilts. Sometimes the women go out for lunch together after their busy morning. They are tired after their morning on their feet.

"We work well together and will continue to meet to quilt as long as everyone is willing and able. These quilts are needed and we like getting together for a good cause," said Hinz.